GET PRIMED FOR A FUSS-FREE FIRST YEAR
GAP YEAR BEFORE UNI?
Read Save the Student’s alternative packing list before you go, and get primed for a fuss-free first year. There’s plenty of info out there about getting prepped for a year abroad. But what about when you get back? Save the Student takes a look at simple ways steps to make your transition to uni less stressful: read on.
1. UNI GEAR
If it’s non-perishable, stick it in a box and label it before you leave to cut down on the pre-term scramble for spatulas (heads-up: check what your new gaff will have before doubling up). Then file – or make a note of – any paperwork you’ll need at uni: exam results, acceptance letter, ID, National Insurance number and GP details.
Top tip: Make copies of originals you’re taking on your travels, too – scan or photograph ‘em and upload to secure cloud storage for backups you can access any where you have a connection.
Make a note of any organisations, departments or tutors you’ll need to keep in touch with while you’re away – and make sure they’ve got a current email address for you, too. Think: getting term-time accommodation sorted, course updates and student finance. If you’re going off-radar, nominate someone reliable back home who can check your voicemail or reply to essential emails on your behalf.
3. MONEY (KNOW-HOW)
You may be footloose and fancy free to go wherever the wind blows you, but don’t be breezy about your finances. The last thing you’ll want to take to uni is a stack of travelling debts.
- Online banking will be a life-saver – get it set up.
- Consider an overseas prepaid debit card. You can top up with cash from your bank accounts back home, they help you budget, plus your money’s protected against loss or theft. Shop around for the best exchange rates and lowest fees before signing.
- Try to keep your uni cash separate from your travel stash – separate accounts can help avoid accidentally blowing your rent deposit.
- Give yourself a weekly or monthly allowance from your travel fund so you don’t torch through the lot in one go. Stuff the rest into a high-interest savings account to earn a little extra on it while you’re away.
- Check the t&cs for any student bank accounts you’ve got your eye on – taking a gap year could affect your eligibility or access to account features and borrowing
- Be wary of using a 0% overdraft or credit card to fund your travels if you don’t have a plan to clear it afterwards: you’ll have less to fall back on when term starts.
4. READING MATERIAL
Chances are you won’t have heaps of time for reviewing, revising or pre-course reading while travelling, but with a little planning, you don’t have to be caught short:
- Load up an eReader with core reading materials or lecture notes before you go
- Pick up cheap editions of set-texts locally (sell or donate them when you move on)
- Got internet? Google Scholar has free access to some academic journals and articles – worth a look.
5. A TIMETABLE
A gap year is your chance to be free and unfettered, but you don’t want to be in Azerbaijan when the rest of your year has started Horse Dentistry 101. Know when you need to be back, and leave yourself space to finish-up essential paperwork and prep – and wind down!
A gap year isn’t ‘just a holiday’ (unless that’s what you want, of course!). You get the chance to live independently, learn to rock a budget better than George Osborne, and snag a whole heap of life hacks along the way – all uni essentials, as it goes. Don’t just mind the gap – make the most of it. Have a great time!