If you’re studying abroad, get ready for an experience you’ll never forget. Whether you go for one semester or an entire year, you want to make sure you’re prepared to make the very most of it. Follow these tips to make your study abroad experience wonderful.
1 Learn About Your Destination Country
Check out books from the library, read online guides, and ask questions of everyone you know who has ever been to that country. Not only will it help you move around more efficiently once you’re there, but being informed can help lessen any anxiety. Try to learn the language as much as possible. You’ll learn more once you get there, but learn the basics so you can get around safely and efficiently.
Of course, what’s even more important than learning about your destination country’s culture is learning about their laws. You should also look up your country on your government’s website to check for any safety concerns and recent conflicts so you can go in prepared.
2 Make Sure to Budget
Budgeting can be hard in your own country, let alone another country. Learn about the exchange rate and figure your budget in your country’s currency. Do these exchanges with authorized agents to avoid violating any laws. Do your research and ask for your parents’ help if you need it.
3 Plan Side Trips Before You Get There
The earlier you plan side trips from your destination country, the cheaper your flights and hotel stays will be. Budgeting will help you plan what you can afford, and it gives you time to look up the local sites and festivals you can see.Take photos and journal—in the moment,you believe you’ll remember these people and places forever but the memory is only so strong. Document everything, we promise you’ll be so glad you did!
4 Get Your Papers In Order
Arrange for passports and visas ahead of time, and be sure to fill in the emergency section of your passport just in case. Passports typically take six weeks to process, but you can expedite it. As this article from internationalstudent.com notes, you also want to leave copies of your itinerary, visas, and your passport data page behind with friends and family in case of an emergency. Keep your host program informed of your location at all times.
Another area of paperwork to address is your insurance. Make sure that you not only remember your insurance card but also ensure that it covers your emergency medical needs should anything arise while you’re overseas.
5 Exercise Caution Once There
While you want to enjoy yourself and not be too apprehensive, you do want to keep your wits about you while traveling in places you haven’t been before. Don’t drink alcohol in excess and always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid wearing or bringing anything of value while you’re out and about. And as strongly as your political convictions may be, you should try and avoid doing any protesting while abroad to keep yourself safe, especially if the sentiment in the area is particularly anti-American or anti-Western.
6 Go to Class
Your attendance policy at your university abroad might be more lax than the one at home, but you still need to go. You don’t want this once-in-a-lifetime experience to keep you from getting that dream job once college is over, and you’ll meet new friends in class that you can travel with.
7 Bring A Little Bit of Home With You
It’s normal to feel a little bit homesick while you’re away, so bring along some goodies that remind you of home and make you feel a bit more connected to your loved ones. Pack some cuddle-worthy items for those days you just need to relax; it might be your childhood blanketor some cozy California t-shirts from The Home T that remind you of your loved ones back in the Golden State. When it comes to mementos, bring along photos of your family and your little stuffed bear from that special someone—anything small enough to pack and take along with you. The most important way to bring home with you? Download Skype on your computer before heading over so you can stay in touch with your family and friends with ease.
Follow these tips while studying abroad to stay safe and have the experience of a lifetime.