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How to make the most of your semester abroad

Two young women make the most of their semester abroad by sitting on a ledge near a river.

In just three weeks, my time studying abroad in Hungary will come to an end. This has been without a doubt the greatest year in my life – but it definitely wasn’t without its trials and tribulations.

Here are the tips you need to totally slay your semester abroad…

Keep a journal

Since arriving in Budapest, I’ve kept all my boarding passes, train tickets, photos, and museum tickets of the places I visited since moving here and made a huge travel journey of my adventures. It’s a really good way of reminding yourself of everything you’ve done and just how far you’ve come since starting your year abroad. It’s also a really fun pastime while you’re there!

Bring your own toiletries

I know this goes against all the major travel tips but believe me, this is worthwhile – especially when moving to a country where English is not the native language. It really helps in the first few days when you are still feeling a bit homesick, trying to find your feet and getting to know your new home. Having products you know and use provides you with those well-needed comforts whilst you settle in.

Remember the 5 P’s

As my dad always says, ‘perfect planning prevents poor performance’. Prior to your departure, you should really consider what do you need to bring and what is in your accommodation in the county you will be studying in. What do you need to budget for? Will you need to buy sheets, cutlery etc? I was lucky enough that my flat was fully furnished when I arrived. When looking for accommodation, try and find one that is fully furnished, as this really helped me with settling into my new home.


Don’t be afraid to take risks

I know it is incredibly important to stay safe whilst studying abroad, but don’t be afraid to take a few risks. I remember on my first day at my university in Budapest, I hadn’t found anyone to talk to – so I stood around for ages just waiting for someone to say hi to me. After time passed and no one had spoken to me, I saw a group of people laughing. I took a risk, thinking “what is the worse that could happen?” and asked to sit with them. That group of people ended up being some of my best friends here.

Learn the basics language/ history of county

Learning the basics of the language really helps, and the locals really appreciate it when you try and make the effort. It’s also super important to know the basic history and cultural conventions of the county. For example, it’s rude to clink your glasses of beer in Hungary. Legend has it that when Austria defeated Hungary’s revolution in 1848 they celebrated by clinking mugs of beer, and so Hungarians swore that they would not cheers with beer for 150 years – and don’t, to this day. By doing a little historical research, it could help yourself to respect the customs of the country you chose to study in.

Go Solo

I know it can be comforting to embark on a semester abroad with someone from your home university – but if you want the real experience, go solo. I’m pretty sure I was the only one from my home university studying in Budapest, and it was the best thing ever. Going solo really allows you to grow and discover who you are as an individual. It also allows you to be a little selfish. You can create the experience you want, and do the things you want to do without having to compromise for your friends from back home.

Have you slayed your year abroad and got some insider tips? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…

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