Year Abroad, Part One: Preparation

Since I got back from my family holiday in Italy, I haven’t been writing as much as I’d have liked. I’ve been busy. But not in the usual way. My year abroad has come around rather fast and I’ve suddenly realised there’s quite a lot I still have to do to prepare for it.

I’m spending my year abroad studying, in Tübingen, Germany. I leave in two days.

Right now, I’m in the middle of packing, and am relieved that that’s all I need to do at the moment. Most of the preparations have taken place in the past month or so, but in reality, we’ve been preparing for this for about a year now. And all that time I’ve been kidding myself that it’s a whole year away, as if it’ll never actually happen! So going to briefing lectures, filling in occasional forms, sending off my application to Tübingen University, sending off my application for university accommodation… it’s all felt like something I needed to do just because. This whole year abroad thing, even now, has never felt entirely real.

And then I got home from Italy and realised that I needed to read and sign a German rent contract, fill in, sign and send off no less than six Erasmus forms (most of which were not as straightforward as they should have been), choose the modules I’ll be studying (which took days; it was so confusing!), plan both the journey there (which has involved us booking a Channel Tunnel crossing, somewhere to stay in France, and somewhere for my parents to stay in Tübingen) and the journey back for Christmas, and pack (not just clothes, but also kitchen stuff, bedding, study materials… etc etc etc). All within about one month.

Needless to say, it’s been more than a little stressful at times, and, frankly, I’m feeling quite overwhelmed. And I’m not even in Germany yet. And I’ve had my parents helping me with quite a lot of the things on that list (I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them; thank you so much Mum and Dad!).

But that doesn’t mean I’m dreading going to Germany. Okay, well maybe a little bit. But that’s mostly because all the things I have to do on arrival sound stressful, and despite signing up to the bare minimum of modules, I still feel like I’ve signed up for far more than I’ll be able to handle. After all, I have struggled to keep up with English university for parts of these last two years (probably because I hold myself to too-high standards), so I feel it’s natural for me to worry that I’ll be even less likely to keep up with German university. Hopefully this year, though, I can learn not to be too hard on myself – doing less than brilliantly at such a huge challenge is not a failure, and I shouldn’t let myself think that it is!

Anyway, in between arrival and studying, I have a few weeks to settle in. It’s not often I think about those few weeks (I have so much else to think about!), but when I do, I realise that I am looking forward to them. My accommodation looks much nicer than the student accommodation I’ve had in England – not to mention cheaper! It looks very light (the house I rented with my housemates in second year was quite dark, especially in winter, which was quite depressing), with decent coloured walls (white; the bedroom walls in my first year halls were green and unplastered!), and it has a huge kitchen! So I’m definitely looking forward to living there. And the town of Tübingen looks nice too.

I plan on writing numerous blog posts to document my year abroad, both for my own benefit (I’ll forget what I did otherwise!) and so that anyone who wants to keep up to date with what I’m up to while I’m away can do. As ridiculously cheesy as it sounds, I’m hoping that I will be able to look back at these blog posts one day and see all the progress I made to becoming a more confident and capable person (and a better German speaker!) during my year abroad.

Read Part Two here.

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