Friends and socializing is actually the last thing you have to worry about!
Name: Xuan Vo
Course: BSc Psychology
Placement Position: Erasmus Student
Location: Korea University Seoul, South Korea
Advice for moving abroad, from a non-traveler
Hi, I’m Xuan, a Psychology Single Honours student, and for my placement year I am Studying Abroad at Korea University!
Doesn’t that sound crazy?
I was born in Birmingham and lived there all my life. I’ve also never lived away from home long-term before. But what better time to try something new than Placement Year? It’s the perfect time to get stuck into something outside of your comfort zone that is related to what you like or want to do in the future. I personally really wanted to visit Seoul and it was on my bucket list to live abroad, and I set my sights on achieving this while at Aston!
It goes without saying that I am not a traveler. At all. This trip to Seoul was my first trip all by myself. It was terrifying travelling over 5000 miles away from everything I know for a whole year.
Despite my excitement and how smoothly the journey went, I spent most of it in tears from anxiousness. My first piece of advice as a non-traveler is that preparation is key. Start packing early, have currency on hand, and the only thing that might make you cry on the flight is the excitement.
If you’re a non-traveler, I would say just to take it easy and do only what you feel up to doing during the first week. That doesn’t seem helpful at first: While my fellow Aston exchange students were all exploring the sights of Seoul, I was horrifically jet-lagged, exhausted from the journey and managed only one fun day out on my first week. I didn’t even have a pillow, and was so tired I managed to sleep without for days. Even after that, nerves can stop you from going out.
I’ll say it again: take it easy. You have more time than you think, there’s no rush to see everything at once, and you definitely don’t want to burn out on Day Three.
Friends and socializing is actually the last thing you have to worry about. I found kicking up a conversation with other exchange students surprisingly easy especially as everyone is so great at English! What’s more difficult is making friends with locals!
Make sure to kick up some conversations with fellow students, and even if you came over with friends from Aston do invite other exchange students into your crowd. By the time you have formed a network of friends, you can trade useful bits of advice such as places to eat and shop and the overall experience becomes much less lonely. “So where are you from?” works super well to break the ice, especially at Korea University where there are over 700 exchange students from 53 countries!
Until Next Time,
- S If you want to hear more about what I am getting up to, I write a little on my personal blog, Twenty Swans!