This year, like hundreds of other University students, I’ll be going on my compulsory year abroad as part of my degree. For the next 12 months, I’ll be posting a weekly column exploring different aspects of being an international student. Think of it as a bit of a spin on Lauren White’s #Year10/11/12/13Problems column.

Titling this column ‘Bronjour’ may seem a bit cheesy, but what use would it be to be called Bronwen and move to France if you’re not going to make a bad pun of it?

This column will be aimed at students currently on a year abroad and anyone who is contemplating taking a year to study/work abroad as part of their degree. I will attempt to be as open and honest as possible to give an unfiltered account of being a student in a strange new country. Of course I don’t know what kind of emotions and experiences I’ll have over the next year but it’s likely that I’ll be talking about culture shock, home sickness, loneliness as well as new adventures, successes and becoming a more cultured individual.

I’m less than 3 weeks away from moving to Montpellier, France to begin my semester studying in a University as part of the Erasmus scheme. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Erasmus, it’s basically an exchange programme. As with any new endeavour, my year abroad has taken some intense and stressful months of planning so why not make the debut column all about the preparation involved with doing an Erasmus exchange?

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that my I probably spent more time filling out forms than I did socialising in the last year. In order to fill out a form to apply for a French University, you need to provide several documents. In order to get these documents, you need to fill out forms which require you to provide countless other documents. It’s an endless cycle of writing out your national insurance number and address and chasing your year abroad coordinator up for signatures.

Oh and not to mention you need to actually decide what you want to do. Most UK unis give you a lot of choice and flexibility when choosing where you’re going to go and what you’re going to do. You can become an English language classroom assistant with the British Council, you can study at a partner university, do an internship, volunteer or just go and do some casual work.

Once I picked Montpellier, I had to trawl the internet looking for somewhere to live- I’ll explore this more in depth next week.

Having done all the preparation and forms, I would give this advice to anyone planning a year abroad:

  • You can never do enough research
  • Forms are tedious but worth doing well
  • Don’t rush your decision but also don’t leave applications too close to the deadline