Here is REALIE’s Ultimate Residency Abroad Bucket List. While some of the following activities might seem obvious, completing or trying to complete this list will lead to you really getting to know your area, it’s culture and will definitely help in your personal development.
Find somewhere to live
You might not be able to arrange anything before you go. Don’t worry; loads of students will be in the same position.
Don’t be that person who lives out of their suitcase for 6 months. It will help you settle in if you unpack everything and give your accommodation a personal touch.
Open a bank account
Get a sim card
Get a travel pass
Get some passport photos printed
Many countries require passport photos for almost every form. If you haven’t got any, make sure to go and get some. It never hurts to be organised.
Discover the local area
Take a trip
Visit the country side
Visit a big city
Visit a historical site
While it can be tempting to only do things when your new friends are doing things, it can be a very valuable experience to travel alone, whether it is in the local area or further afield. You develop all sorts of skills from travel.
Visit friends on their YA
Have friends visit you
Attend an international/ERASMUS event
Attend a language exchange
An easy way to meet locals and improve your language skills.
Make new friends – work, classes, halls, neighbours
Date a local
Often lauded as one of the best ways to improve your language on a RA. (Although this has been disputed.)
Visit the local art/history/science museum
Go to the cinema
Go to the theatre
Get a bike
This is a great (and fun) way of getting to know your area. There might be a public bike scheme where you’re staying, but if not, try and find a cheap, second hand one for the Semester/Year.
Try the local cuisine
Go out for a meal
Go on a night out
Find a gym
Get a haircut
An interesting (and terrifying) way of testing out your language skills.
Join a club
Take a class
Learn an instrument
What seems like a strange decision reveals itself to be a great experience. Former Southampton student wrote about learning the clarinet on her Year Abroad for Globalgraduates.com
Get a part time job
Write a Blog
Maybe you could write for REALIE?
Write for your university’s newspaper/magazine
Listen to the local radio
Watch TV in your target language
Have target language only days
Go out of your comfort zone
Obviously don’t put yourself in danger. But there will be times when you feel uncomfortable because you’ve never been in that type of position before. Going out of your comfort zone every now and then can really go towards your personal development especially by making you more confident.
Sometimes locals will realise that you’re English and try to speak with you in English. They might enjoy speaking English or just be trying to help you. But be pushy, keep talking to them in your target language and eventually they’ll catch on.
Take days off
Go outside everyday
These last two look like they cancel each other out but they don’t. While it’s important to take the occasional ‘break’ from the language when things might be overwhelming you, you might find yourself having a lot of free time so it’s really important that you don’t fall into the trap of spending days on end never leaving your flat. You might never have an opportunity like this again, don’t let it go to waste!