Make the Most of Every Day Abroad CC0

Make "one day" today. Here's why—and how. 

A lot of young people living abroad are taking part in an exchange programme or work placement of sorts. This type of experience is a great way to get an insight into life abroad and help you make decisions about the future, but there is one major downside that can complicate matters: they have an expiry date.

I have worked two month-long summer contracts and taken part in a yearlong exchange programme and made sure that I made the most of my location each time. Here are my three top tips to help you do the same:

Plan your time well from the beginning

We’ve all said it: “I’ll do it one day.”

For me, this is the worst thing that anyone can say because—more often than not—"one day" becomes "never." I’m not saying that I am on top of my bucket list at all times, but when I know that I am spending X number of days somewhere, I plan to the minute. This does mean that my holidays and weekends can often be compared to a military exercise, but I always get as much done as time will allow for.

Each of my summer jobs lasted four weeks so I made a list of everything I wanted to see and ranked them in order of importance. On my year abroad, I employed a similar tactic but as well as sights, I also ranked places.

Study and complete tasks during the working week (as far as possible)

Until I started working freelance and lost the opportunity to have a say in my timetable, I was a big believer in working super hard Monday to Friday and leaving weekends free for exploring. In Paris, my weekends were always filled with museums, sightseeing and maybe a trip to visit a friend on exchange somewhere else. In Zürich, I visited a lot more of Switzerland because I had never been there before.

I would definitely recommend this type of work-life balance for people who want to make the most of their placement/time abroad…but maybe not during exam time!

Travel as much as you can

I can’t stress this part enough. The likelihood of there ever being a time in your life when you are being "made" to live abroad (either for uni or a work placement) is slim. So make the most of it! Most countries will offer some sort of travel pass or discount card. I would encourage you to buy one at the very beginning so that you get the full benefit.

Even if you’re tired from working so hard during the week, it doesn’t take much effort to hop on a train for a couple of hours and explore a new city. If you’re in Europe, everything is so well connected and accessible so it really is worthwhile visiting as many places as you can.

Whatever you choose to do during your time abroad, the most important thing is to enjoy it and have fun! 

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Kirsty Smith

Originally from Scotland, Kirsty Smith has a Master’s in languages and is a keen traveller. She is currently based in Zurich, Switzerland, where she is a language assistant for the British Council and also a freelance translator, proofreader and post-editor.


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