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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

In October of 2023, I decided last-minute that I would spend the spring semester overseas in England. My “Wild Child” adventure was waiting for me on the other side of an eight-hour flight. This decision was very impulsive and rushed, admittedly like most big decisions I make, which made the massive change feel even more overwhelming. In case anyone else planning to head abroad is feeling as distraught as I was, here are a few tips that I wish I knew before my first few weeks! 

Unpack and get your room set up as soon as you get there! 

When packing for your time abroad, be sure to leave room in your suitcase for a few decorations that remind you of your bedroom at home. A few posters, trinkets and pictures go a long way when settling into an entirely new place. Having a few familiar decorations will make you feel a bit more comfortable while you adjust. Also, try to unpack as soon as possible. Cleaning and organizing always make me feel better when I’m stressed, but even if that’s not your thing, this will also make your room feel homier, which is important in those first few days. 

Stay busy and go to school events. 

Often, there will be a mixer or some sort of gathering for all the new study abroad students shortly after your arrival. Go to this mixer and put yourself out there! Normally there are other study abroad students who are feeling just as nervous and excited. Everyone there will be hoping to make friends out of it, so try not to worry too much about meeting people. The school will most likely have other welcome week events, even if you come in the middle of the year, so try to attend a decent amount of those events as well. A lot can come out of a school event that you might feel lame going to. Give it a chance! 

Say yes to everything (within reason).

 Most people coming overseas have an idea of how life-changing the experience will be and know that they signed up for a bit of personal transformation. Change is inevitable and you’re bound to change along with all your surroundings. Try to embrace it! Go clubbing even when you’re tired, take that harder course you’re curious about, kiss strangers, etc. Now I’m not suggesting you do coke or anything (I have been offered while here and have respectfully declined). I know that saying yes to everything has its obvious boundaries, and you know yours at your core. Be safe about it of course, but when it comes to most overseas experiences, you’ll never know until you try. After all, you don’t fly across the world to stay in your comfort zone, right? 

Talk to people first, take risks. 

While I am a bit shy myself, and certainly don’t strike up conversations with people I don’t know at home, I challenged myself to be different in England. I would make a joke or two in the bathroom, ask people their names and where they’re from (as if I knew the various English towns in the area), get their social media, etc. Introducing yourself to others will get you far and even if you don’t click with them, now you know, and you’ll probably never see them again. Don’t be hesitant to ask people about themselves and to put yourself out there! 

Join clubs. 

While this suggestion is like the earlier one of saying yes to everything, joining clubs deserves its own tip because it’s so important. It provides you with a schedule, allows you to meet lots of people with similar interests and fills your time while you adjust. While studying in England, I joined a surf club. I have never surfed a day in my life and merely joined because of a friend of a friend. I ended up meeting some of my best friends and did learn how to surf (not well, but nonetheless). I discovered a love for something new and for the club members. I tried to join a dance club first, but that was more of a year-long commitment, so I dropped it. Try out different clubs and see which ones are the best fit. You’ll end up right where you’re meant to be. 

Give yourself grace. 

You’re coming to an entirely new place that’s halfway across the globe with none of your loved ones. Expect to be a little sad. I’m giving these tips out for a reason, aren’t I? Be kind to yourself while you handle all this change. Your ability to stay grounded will be your greatest strength among the chaos so be nice to yourself while you figure things out! 

I hope these tips resonate with some of you and help you get through your time as a study abroad student. It’s going to change your life forever. As the Brits would say, best of luck xxx!

Hi everyone <3 My name is Emily Murphy and I'm a psychology major here at ODU, but I'm also passionate about activism, politics, and pop culture. I'm excited to be writing about these topics and more as a part of the HER Campus team!