As a language student, I am faced with the exciting yet terrifying prospect of moving to Colombia in a month’s time as part of my degree. The majority of people that I know at uni are also jumping ship as many of them are studying languages. This means I am surrounded by the all-too-common year abroad frets which those BSc students just don’t seem to understand.
#1 Will They Let Me Into The Country?
The visa forms are long and plentiful. I am goddamn hoping that there is room for error, because there is no way that I remembered my full travel history for the past 10 years, nor my complete medical history. The questions – ‘Are you a murderer?’, ‘Have you ever been a murderer?’, ‘Do you plan on being a murderer?’ – are no doubt trying to catch me out; I find myself stumbling at the answers that should be simple.
#2 How Will I Get My Stuff There?
We’ve all suffered the shameful rush to reorganize the suitcase at the airport check-in desk, aimlessly moving stuff around and stuffing socks into your hand-luggage to try and reduce the weight of your suitcase. If 23kg was not enough for 2 weeks in Marbella, how are we supposed to survive a year with this limit? The daunting thought of arriving in Colombia with no kitchen utensils, bedding, and only half of the clothes that I want (not to mention the niknaks that fill my shelves) is a stressful prospect firmly ingrained in the back of my mind. Although I’ve heard on the grapevine that there are, in fact, shops abroad, I can’t help but feel an emotional connection to my favourite saucepan… nothing boils an egg quite like the one I’ll be leaving behind.
#3 Will I Even Be Able To Speak To Anyone?
Can I even speak Spanish? I tripped up on the translation of ‘aubergine casserole’ the other day… if I can’t even discuss this then how will I cope?
#4 What If It Is All A Waste Of Time?
I’ve always been told that the best way to learn a language is by living in the country. Realising that I rely too much on movie subtitles, throughout my degree I’ve justified my lack of fluency by promising myself that ‘I’ll be fine after my year abroad’. But WHAT IF I AM NOT? I’ve been using this year abroad as a cop-out for mixing up ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ for too long now… if I still can’t distinguish them, or the subjunctive tense continues to remain a mystery to me on my return, there’s no hope at all.
#5 What Will I Eat?
There’s a rumour that Chilli Heatwave Doritos are not sold in Colombia. It’s a difficult scenario to picture myself in, and I wake up in cold sweats at the very thought of it. I never realised that baked beans and cheddar cheese are very british foods… What will I have for lunch? The worst part of all: gravy is not universal.
#6 Will I Make Friends?
What if my clever wit and banterous charm aren’t appreciated abroad? My ‘Spanish Puns’ book will only get me so far.
If you’re a language student like me, you probably chose your course with the firm desire of having that golden year abroad (contrary to what your personal statement says). You’ve been looking forward to it forever but as it gets nearer, the terrifying reality is starting to set in. Nobody else seems to understand these problems, but joke’s on them when their roast dinner is dry because you’ve stockpiled all of the Bisto in Britain to satisfy your addiction, trade it for a duvet and bribe people into being friends with you.
If you’re also stressing about money whilst abroad then check out Loot here. You can use the contactless card without paying any additional fees and if you lose it, you can pause it and protect the money in your account. Phew.