Going away overseas on a gap year, holiday with a difference or a career break is a really exciting time. Whether you are going away for a couple of weeks, a couple of months or even a year, here are 5 top tips for making the most of your time overseas from the second you land:
1) Give yourself plenty of time before departure
It is important that you are feeling well-prepared for your trip. With Oyster you receive a set of comprehensive joining instructions giving you information about what to pack, weather forecast, airport pick up, visas and much more. Make sure that you familiarise yourself with this and pass it on to your parents. It might be a good idea to go through it with a highlighter, making sure that you will have immediate access to information should you need it.
2) Check in with your parents
It is important to let your parents know that you have arrived safely. It is the parental prerogative to worry, and if they don’t hear from you to let them know that you are ok, this is just what they will do. Send a quick text to let them know that you are safely at your destination. Some of the best advice I have ever been given was do not call home or contact home until you have settled in. The first few days are exciting and at first challenging, and there might be times where you feel overwhelmed. It would be very easy to send a quick text home to say that you are feeling homesick, but this will only make your parents worry. Let them know that you won’t be in touch within the first week whilst you find your feet properly. Don’t forget- this is a new feeling for them too, so chat your feelings over with your peers or rep/ coordinator if you are feeling out of your depth.
3) Give yourself time to settle in
It is only natural to feel a couple of butterflies when you start a placement, but do not let these overwhelm you! It isn’t unusual to feel like you want to turn around and fly straight back home again- but remember, many other people feel like this too! Whether working or volunteering overseas, you are out of your natural environment and stretching your comfort zone- don’t expect everything to fit into place from the second you step off the plane. It can take time to learn new skills, get to know new people and adjust to a different lifestyle- remember, it’s all part of the adventure and why you have decided to do this in the first place.
4) Make every effort and the most of every opportunity – as long as it’s legal!
Ever heard of the book and film, Yes Man? Now is the time to get into that concept. Be open to new suggestions, and say yes to the opportunities that come your way. This is the best way to make the most of your placement, get to know the people around you and really settle in. Push yourself and enjoy yourself- your time overseas won’t last forever, so the best thing to do is to make sure you enjoy each and every moment of it.
5) Don’t always expect everything to go exactly to plan!
Be spontaneous, flexible and open-minded. You are in a completely new environment and new culture, so you shouldn’t expect things to go as you are used to at home. Instead of getting stressed out and upset about it, embrace it. You are after all overseas to enjoy a rounded experience, and some of that is to expect the unexpected!
Our staff in the UK and overseas are here to help you make the most of your time overseas. Do make sure that you talk to the UK staff before departure, and communicate with the volunteer coordinators and reps overseas- we are all here to help you!
Have an amazing time!