Student Blog: The daunting decision of leaving home
'I was 20 years old when I left home for London. In Colombia you usually don't leave home in your early twenties, you live with your parents while you study at university unless you move to another city. Nowadays, it has become more common for young people to move abroad and start a new life in very different cultures.
I had finished my degree when I made the decision to study abroad and, despite the fact that I had a university degree, I knew that the challege of living in a different country, speaking a different language was going to be the toughest challenge of my life. I did it anyway. This decision might be very daunting, but it is also challenging and full of gains! Living and interacting with people from different parts of the world has become not only a gain for my personal life but it is also an asset for any employer or business.
Some of the aspects that I feared the most when I left were if I had the money, where I was going to live and if I could manage with the pressure of learning a new language. Experience proved that none of them are simple issues but certainly possible to solve. Here some tips for you trip planning:
I come from a not very wealthy background and my main concern was getting into massive debts that me or my parents couldn't afford. I saved some money working but I found so many organisations that were willing to help. The British Council offered some advice in terms of budgeting and getting my finances right. Also, many people don't know that the International Organisation for Migration sponsors students with 50% of flight fares when you travel as student and buy your ticket through the airline. Check in your country branch if this is applicable for you, but at least this is the case in Colombia.
A place to live for the first two weeks in London was arranged by my English school. I had the opportunity to meet other students from my school and go to study with them in the morning while I got the hang of the Tube map! (Check the TFL website). I am very grateful with Mrs. Miskell who hosted us and woke up every morning to make sure we had our breakfast. But after that I had to find a place to leave. I found very useful information in www.gumtree.com . However, be aware that this is a site open to everyone and some people are more experience than other. Use this site to get information about average prices in the area you want to live as well as the deals that you get in each offer (i.e. bills included, number of people, terms of contract). Always make sure to get contact details of the person in charge of letting and speak to them regarding any enquires you have. Never send any money or cheques in advenced, or I would suggest not before you have moved in! Many people have been victims of scams, don't be afraid, just be very careful. If you are not sure about all this, look for advice from your classmates with more experience or the authorities in your school or university, they are always happy to help.
Before leaving Colombia, my best friend advised me not to get comfortable in the level that I started in and tried to move up level as soon as I was ready. This is the piece of advice that I pass on to all of you. Proficiency in the language has become the key of getting better jobs for me as student. Keep practicing and immerse yourself in the culture you are in: listen to radio, watch TV, read the newspaper (Check this website for very clear information, easy to understand as listening practice)..... you might not understand all of it at the beginning but all those new terms will stick at the back of your mind and you will see that yur vocabulary will improve with time.
I hope you find this information useful. Overall i have to confess that this has been the highlight of my life and I am very happy a manage to gather the courage to pack my bags and leave the comfort of home in order to achieve a new personal experince. I am sure you won't regret it either!.'
Aspiring journalist and Cambridge University graduate, Londoner 'by adoption'. Tweeting for @hotcourses_Abrd