“For how long do I want to go abroad?”. This is an important question you have to ask yourself if you are planning on going away for a longer period of time. 3 month, 5 month or 10 month? Some people stay even longer, depending on wether they are planning on graduating in that country or not. But what is best for you?
For me personally it was always clear that I would go for 10 month. My organization told me that most of the students have really settled in after about half a year and for me it didn’t really make sense to leave after just settling in, so 10 month seemed like a good time span. Although it might seem long, I can tell you time flies by! Since I am in a town with a lot of international students, I got to know people who are staying from three month to three years. And I also know how the poeple who already left felt.
I think 3 month is way too short. In my opinion you just got used to everything and everyone and especially your host familiy and then all of a sudden you have to leave. Three month sound long, but trust me it’s not. It takes time to get used to everything in your new environment and because of that time it takes to settle in, you don’t really spend much time feeling super comfortable and at home. 5 month is a long time and perfect for those people who don’t want to redo their school year in their home country. I know a lot of people who went for five month because of that very reason and I totally understand it.
I myself felt like I wasn’t done after five month if you know what I mean. When I went to the airport in January to say good bye to my friends, I was thinking that I wouldn’t have been ready to leave at that time. I felt like my time here wasn’t over and I was super happy I didn’t have to go! What I mean is, that for a lot of students five month may be the best option because it is a fair bit of time and you really get to live the normal live in that country. In addition you don’t have to re-do your grade but for me it wouldn’t have been enough, because in that moment I wouldn’t have been ready to go home again. Redoing your grade is a thing you have to accept if you are planning on going for 10 month but for me it is totally worth it.
I feel like I settled in so that I felt comfortable after a few weeks, but something changed towards February. Living here just feels so normal now. And I think that is what you want to achieve when you leave for a foreign country, you want to really live there and experience the daily life, feel like a “normal” citizen.
For me 10 month are perfect because I really wanted to experience how it is to live here and not only feel like a visitor. That is of course a little exaggerated and for some people 3 or 5 month may be the ideal time span but for me 10 month is what fit me best and what gave me the experience I wanted.
So if you have to decide right now, consider your expectation on the expirience you want to get. Not your expectation on how cool you want your time abroad to be, but your expectation on the outcome and the feeling of living you want to have there. I think there is a huge difference in your mindset if you know you are staying for three month or ten. I think you can embark better in the daily life when you are staying longer, because you don’t have that mindset of having to leave in a few weeks, so you really start living a normal life in your new town.
A huge aspect you also have to consider is how much you want to improve your ability of speaking the „new“ language. Obviously you improve more when you are spending more time in that country with the language all around you and you being forced to speak it. So think of that as well when you are deciding on leaving to go abroad.
I hope I could help you with your decision or could give you more suggestions for you pro and contra list.
Have a good day & smile a lot!