Tips for starting a good student life in Europe
Attending a foreign university and living abroad is a great character-building experience in itself. As you plan to start your studies in Europe, it is good to know that academic concerns are not everything. You should also be thinking of having a great student life as well.
Language and Getting along
For students contemplating a stint at a European university, it is worth investing in language classes before departing. Though you can expect your grasp of the lingo to improve fast once you are immersed in the new culture, settling in (meeting people, renting a room or flat, opening a bank account) during your first weeks is made much simpler by a basic understanding of the language – and a firm commitment to improving it on your arrival. Integrating with foreign students is a challenge wherever you are, but it is all the more onerous when you face a linguistic as well as a cultural barrier – if you choose to go to Europe, be prepared to throw yourself into university social life without inhibitions, and to make the odd gaffe along the way!
Social life online
In the UK and the USA and many other countries in Asia we are all used to the hegemony of Facebook (and maybe Twitter) when it comes to social networking. Studying elsewhere may mean opening a new account on an analogous but different system. In Spain, it is Tuenti. In Latvia it is Draugiem. In Germany, many still use StudiVZ– which resembles the increasingly-popular Facebook, but for some subtle differences. Instead of “poking” your friends, for example, it gives you the option to “cuddle” them 🙂
If you were to study in US , it would be hard to spot a student without a driving licence and driving their own car to campus. At most European universities, expect your academic colleagues not to drive cars but taking the bus, tram or bike. You can also expect excellent public transport system in many of the European cities like London, Berlin and Prague.
Alcohol, particularly at post graduate level on weeknights is a ubiquitous part of daily student life in the Europe. The humble student bar in the UK has its continental counterparts,say, German beer halls, Spanish bodegas and chupiterias (pubs and shot bars) and French boîtes (nightclubs). Expect lot of drinks around when you go out to a student party.
As said in the beginning, you student life in Europe is not about academic concerns alone. It is also time to learn from people and culture where you are stationed. Remember that living abroad is a great character-building experience in itself . Good luck.