The definitive list of every problem you’ll face on your year abroad from Durham

And how to overcome them

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Your bags are packed, your tickets are printed and you’re all ready to head off into the big wide world, for your year abroad. But what is waiting for you at the end of your flight?

Here is the dl on the most common problems you’re likely to face on your Durham year abroad, and how to fix them (by those who have lived through it).

No House

Travelling to your chosen destination before your actual departure date wasn't really financially viable. But now it's d-day and you're genuinely considering spending the first few nights setting up camp in a local park. Fear not! Airbnb is your friend. Find somewhere cheap until you actually have the time/finances/local knowledge to find a place of your own.

No Internet

Your first week is bad, and all you want to do is cry on Skype to your bffs, but, unfortunately, you have no internet connection. Most companies won't do student deals. Several, such as SFR (in France), will do monthly wireless data passes. It'll have you connected to Skype and Spotify in no time, and is much cheaper than installing a proper box.

No Food

Proof of the (unappetising) versatility of turnips.

Your rent is astronomical, your pay hasn't come in yet and you're living off your Erasmus grant. How to budget on the essentials, then? The answer is easy; most dietary requirements can be fulfilled with varying combinations of only chickpeas and spaghetti. If you fancy a change; try a turnip curry. It is as high in nutritional value as it is low in flavour.

No Friends

With European universities less keen on offering a social side to university, this one will be hard. Fortunately, you may find that some universities have 'ateliers' run by Professors in artistic subjects, such as: art, writing, photography, ancient Greek theatre.

Functioning a little like 'societies', you will think that you may get to meet people by attending them. You will not actually make friends at these events, however, after spending an hour jumping on one foot, whilst reciting ancient Greek poetry that you don't understand and pulling funny faces…. you will cease to ever want to see anybody in the room again.

No Money

If you're living in a major city and you aren't working, then money can quickly become an issue. Fortunately there are also many free things to do: major art galleries offer free entry to under-25s, as do several museums. You can also go window shopping, take scenic photos of buildings you can't afford to enter, and take long solitary walks wondering whether you will make it home alive, and contemplating what you did to deserve this fate.

No Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Many people will be attracted to your 'cute English accent'. Use this to your advantage by getting them to take you out to dinner. This will work fine, unless you decide to end it, in which case…..

Foreign Language Classes

No doubt, you will, at some point, be offered well-intentioned classes designed to help you improve your target language whilst you are studying/working away.

You will actually find these classes consist of analysing the Latin origins of words, counting the number of stressed syllables, learning phonetics (still not exactly sure what it is), or writing timed sonnets in the foreign language (as impossible as it sounds). The only solution here is to befriend your equally confused classmates to make the hours bearable.

Unwanted interest

When someone tells me I need to write a sonnet in French, with correct rhymes and metre, in under half an hour.

If you're learning a romance language this one is unavoidable. From much experience, the best way to avoid these situations is to pretend you have a champion weightlifter girlfriend/boyfriend or, simply, RUN.

No medical certificate

To participate in any kind of athletic pursuit you will need a medical certificate. These are easily obtainable, particularly through university healthcare centres. All you will have to do is: answer a few simple questions, receive a lecture on alcoholism, discuss your sex life with a complete stranger, and perform a few easy yoga exercises whilst entirely topless.

Just think of how much you really want to attend that ski weekend.


You will face many challenges on your year abroad, but thankfully this won't be one. Once you have eaten up your chickpeas, been to your Greek theatre class, and rocked home to you tiny hobbit-hole, you may wonder if it was all really worth it.

However, when you find the time to go and explore, take the most amazing pictures for your 'gram, meet friendly foreigners with interesting stories, and do things you would never have the chance to back in Blighty, you'll realise what a great decision you have made!