Monday 5 March 2018

How to Survive Your Year Abroad as a Chronic Worrier

Rosie shares her tips on how to survive your year abroad as a chronic worrier.

- Rosie Wright

A year abroad can be a very stressful time for anyone. You are moving to a new place with new people, and a language which isn’t your own. Being a chronic worrier like myself, this could completely freak you out. However, if you follow these simple steps, you can keep the worrying at bay and enjoy this very exciting time in your life:

Plan, plan, plan: as soon as you know where you are going, look for accommodation. Seek out the best coffee shops, the best bars, the best places to eat. Look up the public transport and work out your route to work/university – you can even take a walk around the streets on Google Maps. Once you get accustomed to the place you are going to live, you will start to relax and be able to enjoy the experience.

Keep busy/give yourself distractions: to set your mind at ease and get out of your own head the best thing to do is keep busy. Make plans with friends, flatmates or other new people you have met. Get your friends from home to come visit, and you can be their very own tour guide. Invite your mum for the weekend and get her to bring some home comforts (PG Tips and chocolate fingers basically saw me through my stint in Leipzig – you’re the best, Mum!). Doing new things with a familiar face is incredibly comforting, but exploring your new home with new faces can be exciting too.

Get a feel for the place: go on walks and check out new places. Go and visit all the coffee shops you found online at home. Try out different restaurants or even takeaways. Find some favourite spots so that you know you will have safe havens around the city should you start to feel nervous. Seek out the nearest homeware shop (if you find a Primark you are on to a winner!) so you can make your room yours. You’ll feel instantly more comfortable and less worried with a cosy room and a feel for your new city.

Having a routine: this one is important. Get up at the same time each day, and make sure to have an indulgent and stress free morning so that you are not worrying before you even get out the front door! You could even fit in some exercise if you are feeling adventurous. Make sure you know what you are going to eat, and that you have some meals planned you will look forward to. Try to go to bed at a similar time every day too, and make sure you feel comfortable in your room, so you can sleep. If you are also scared of the dark – like me, at the ridiculous age of 23 – get some cute fairy lights or a night light to ensure you get off to sleep easily.

Have someone to turn to: whether it’s your mum, your grandad, your best friend or your dog via Facetime, it’s important to have someone there to listen when it all gets too much, even if it’s just ringing your mum, or going round to a friend’s flat who also lives in the area. You never know when you’ll need someone to talk to and calm you down, so knowing there is one person (or more than one if you are lucky like I was!) you can rely on no matter what will set your mind at ease. Even if it’s just having them send you dog memes, having them on the other end of the phone is incredibly soothing.

Try to make the most of your year abroad despite your worries and most importantly – have fun! This is a once in a lifetime experience to pack up and move somewhere exciting, and one you will look back on fondly later in life!

Hi, I'm Rosie and I'm a final year German student at the University of Manchester. Having suffered with mental health issues throughout University and especially on year abroad, I wanted to speak up and break the stigma surrounding mental health.

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