Saturday, December 13, 2014

Exchange Student Survival Guide no4: Starting to Plan the Trip

Now that you have applied and hopefully gotten accepted to the program, it's time to start planning the journey there.

If you did some research on bursaries and scholarships before this point you will have information about possible financial help during your exchange semester.  This will help you decide how to go about the following steps.

1. Figuring out when to arrive 
After you have received the official letter of acceptance, the school will be sending you plenty of information concerning first days of classes and when it is possible to arrive in residence and what not. I suggest fully adhering to these dates, even though sometimes it may seem that there are many days between the date they suggest you arrive and the day you start classes, but after living through it, it's always best to have a few days to settle in before starting any academics in a foreign country, also to get over the jet lag.

2. Deciding where to stay
In my opinion, the easiest and best place to stay while on exchange is in the student residence of the university. You will be able to apply from home during your application which means you will know exactly where you will be staying before getting there, which is always reassuring and one less thing to worry about. Secondly, it is the absolute best way to meet new people. If you decide to find an apartment on your own in the town or city, it may be hard to meet other students and be fully immersed in the exchange experience. During both my semesters abroad I stayed in the student residences and I loved it.

3. Reserving your plane ticket
Once you have figured out when you need to be at the school, it's time to find an affordable way to get there. Realistically, this won't be cheap. You will be going somewhere far away for several months, so you will be bringing a rather large (or in my case two rather large) suitcase. This means you won't want to buy a trip with several connections and airport changes and whatnot. Depending on where you actually decide to go, a direct flight may not be possible, but choosing the most direct route is absolutely essential, and you will be very glad once the travel day actually arrives. The less tiring you can make yourself be that day, the better you will feel upon arriving in your new temporary home.

4. Planning additional travel from closest airport
Most likely, the town you will be staying in won't be walking distance from the airport you will be arriving in. It's important to research ways to get from the airport to the city/town you will be living in. Probably there will be buses to take you there.  It is best to take notes and phone numbers and bus line information down and have this all with you when travelling because you never know what can go wrong and it's best to be prepared than stranded and not know what to do. It could also be a good option to just take a cab from the airport, if it's not too far away, and have it take you directly to the residence, because after a long flight and being away from home that first day can get overwhelming and dishing out a little extra cash to get there quicker and faster is definitely worth it.

There you have it, a few extra tips about getting ready for an exchange :)

Sorry for not posting on Tuesday, a more consistent schedule will continue starting next week!


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