Top 3 survival tips as a first year student

So, you are already accepted or considering to study in the flattest country in Europe? From the point of view of a person who has experienced such a drastic change in their life, I cannot say that it is an easy process.
Posted by Monika
From Bulgaria
Monika at Leeuwarden

"Studying abroad will not only help you grow on a personal and professional level, but also will give you the chance to get to know yourself better - your strengths and weaknesses."

My name is Monika and I'm a first-year IC student. As a person who has lived away from their home and beloved ones for 7 months now, I gained valuable experience which I am happy to share with you.

So, here are my top 3 survival tips which will make your adjusting process much smoother and easier.

1. Focus on time management

Once you step into the charming north city of Groningen, you will feel how internationally oriented this place actually is. Thanks to the numerous associations and student clubs of all kinds you could easily make new connections and friends. Not to mention the nightlife here which could get more than exciting at some point...😊

But let's get back to the reality and the initial reason you came to the flattest country in Europe. Many students, especially in their first year of studying, fall under the spell of being “finally free and away from their parents” that they totally forget being part of educational institution. This is a common mistake which we will try to avoid, won't we?

The truth is that leading a balanced student life is the best way to enjoy your experience studying abroad. You might ask “But how?”. Well, it is quite straightforward actually if you manage your time properly. You could do that in three different ways which have turned out to be successful for me:

  • Planners
    Planners are my go-to option when you decide that you want to be organized. Could you imagine the satisfaction of highlighting the last task of the day while the weekend is just around the corner? The best feeling, right?
  • Online apps
    Online apps could do a perfect job as well when you want to organize your day and time. They are a perfect choice if you are “too busy” to get creative with a planner and would rather go for the simpler version😄. Some examples are Google Calendar or Clockify
  • Notebooks
    You could simply list the tasks you have to accomplish during the day in your favorite notebook. You might consider it as an old-fashioned technique but, to be honest, it hasn’t let me down so far.

2. Budgeting is a must when you are a student!

Being a first-year student in a foreign country might be tough financially. Not only for you but for your family as well. But here we talk about hundreds of people with hundreds different mindsets and financial statuses. That is why there is no concrete rule how you should structure your budget. However, my personal advice for you would be to leave the financial concerns for your parents at this stage of your studies, if possible, which is a pretty good reason to start being more conscious of your finances.

Remember: Our main goal in the first year is to receive all of the needed credits (ECTS) in order to make our lives easier for the rest of our studies. That automatically means that you will be fully dependent on your parents for a while.

There are 3 main tactics that I use in order to spend money as a student:

  • Make use of Excel sheets in order to divide your monthly/weekly budget effectively.
  • Purchase your groceries from more affordable supermarkets, such as Lidl and Aldi.
  • You can save a lot of money if you make your own coffee at home.

3. Supportive parenting might be crucial!

Could you imagine the picture of being hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from your family and friends? Well, that is a sacrifice which is inevitable when you decide to study abroad. The good news is that living on your own will contribute not only to your independence but also will help you to expand your horizons.

However, in most cases the process of building this whole new lifestyle might get really tough at some point. You will be quickly introduced to the “adult life” which combined with all the tasks related to university might become emotional and stressful. Moreover, you will probably face the so-popular homesickness, especially among international students. Well... I could tell you that this is exactly the point when you will test your abilities to live on your own but on the other hand you will embrace your true self.

"Support from our parents is vital in these hard times when all we need is a hug and a good listener."

A quick reminder: Don’t forget that you will never be left completely alone in the cold. Your parents might not be physically with you but I could assure you that your phone will be constantly tempted with dozens of missed calls and messages.

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