Going to another country on your own, finding a place to live, making new friends and, despite the language barrier, taking care of all the administration involved in your exchange will undoubtedly help you become more independent and mature.
Here are some extra tips for a smooth start:
Tip 1: Immerse yourself in the culture and customs of the country where you will study or work. Learn the local language. If you don't speak the language well, it can be a huge obstacle. Learn it as soon as possible: take lessons (or download the Duolingo app), talk to people and practice new words and phrases. When you can have a conversation in your new environment, you will gain more self-confidence.
Tip 2: FUN - Make a bucket list of things you want to do during your stay!
Tip 3: The checklist below shows you what you need to arrange before leaving on your adventure.
Make a decision about your study or internship abroad well in advance, about one year before your planned departure. Think about what you want to do and where. As soon as you make that choice, there are quite a few issues to address and decisions to be made. Make a plan and keep in mind the following:
- determine your study or internship choice: What? Where? When?;
- communicate your choice and coordinate with your study programme coordinator;
- look for a study programme or internship company;
- investigate funding options to pay for the adventure and apply for a scholarship if possible;
- apply for a visa and/or (residence) permit;
- search for accommodation;
- purchase the appropriate insurance;
- book your trip;
- take care of health matters (getting insurance and vaccinations).
Be sure to contact a teacher/counsellor as well as the the international office at both your home institution and your host institution. Talk to students who have previously studied or done an internship abroad. Find an overview of the web pages for the international offices at the various Flemish higher education institutions here.