Studying abroad is an unforgettable experience. However, before you can fully immerse yourself in the local culture, learn the language, and create lasting memories, you need to prepare for your trip to a foreign country, which entails more than just obtaining a passport and packing a suitcase.
This covers all the necessary preparations for studying abroad, including a study abroad preparation checklist, guidelines of what to do and not do, and a comprehensive list of items to bring. Let’s get started!
Following is the list of guidelines to follow:
- Sort Out Your Finances
- Obtain the Required Documentation
- Explore Your Destination
- Arrange Your Arrival Transport
- Backup Important Documents
- Learn a Few Keywords in the Local Language
- Refill your essential personal care items while abroad
- Medicines and Insurance
- Cultural Awareness
- Embassy Assistance in Emergencies and Avoiding Legal Trouble
- Memorize or write down important numbers and passwords
- Buy a Suitable cell phone plan
- Greet your host family or roommates
Sort Out Your Finances
Before making any further plans, ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover the cost of the trip and your expenses while abroad. It is advised to have a mix of cash in small denominations and a credit card for larger expenses and extended trips. Don’t forget to inform your credit card company of your travel plans to avoid any blockage during your trip. Keep in mind that expenses while abroad are likely to be higher than anticipated.
Obtain the Required Documentation
Studying abroad requires traveling to a foreign country and for that, you will need a passport as a form of identification. Keep in mind that obtaining a passport can take several weeks, so it is best to apply for it as soon as possible. Your passport will be required when departing the US and upon entering the host country. Depending on the destination country, you may also need a visa for studying abroad. Verify the requirements with your advisor to make sure you have all the necessary documentation and bring both digital and physical copies of your passport and visa.
Explore Your Destination
One of the most exciting aspects of preparing for your study abroad trip is learning about your destination. You can research by using travel guides or searching online, including exploring the travel content available. Having a general understanding of the place before your arrival can aid in planning your trips and activities to make the most of your experience abroad. Additionally, familiarize yourself with local customs, habits, and traditions to help you quickly blend in and feel like a local.
Arrange Your Arrival Transport
Ease the stress of your arrival by allowing your study abroad advisor to arrange transportation from the airport to your residence or school. If you prefer to arrange your own transportation, research your options beforehand and download any relevant apps to save time and energy after a long flight. Don’t forget to also plan for transportation to the airport before your departure.
Backup Important Documents
Ensure you have both digital and physical copies of important documents like your passport, insurance, and credit card information. Store them in multiple locations, such as leaving a copy with family or friends and carrying both digital and physical copies with you. Keep the digital version in a secure but accessible location, such as your email inbox or cloud server.
Learn a Few Keywords in the Local Language
Maximize the ease and enjoyment of your travels by familiarizing yourself with the new language before your arrival. Knowing a few phrases in the local language will make your travels smoother. Utilize long flights as an opportunity to brush up on basic vocabulary.
Refill your essential personal care items while abroad
Before you travel for studying abroad, consider whether you want to bring your own essential toiletries or buy them when you arrive. If you’re attached to a specific brand, it’s better to bring them with you. Otherwise, you can easily find soap, shampoo, makeup, and other toiletries at your destination, which may be cheaper than in your home country. The choice is yours.
Medicines and Insurance
If you are taking prescribed medication, it’s important to work with your doctor to secure enough supplies for the duration of your study abroad program. Don’t assume that your destination will have your specific medications readily available.
Common over-the-counter drugs can usually be found overseas, but they may go by different names. Do a quick online search to find what to look for at local pharmacies. You may be pleasantly surprised to find familiar pharmaceutical brands at your study-abroad location.
If you need medical attention while abroad, don’t panic. Most foreign countries have good medical facilities to take care of you. Make sure to bring your passport and insurance card with you to the clinic or hospital. You will likely have to pay for medical expenses upfront and then file a claim with your insurance company.
Being a study abroad student carries certain obligations, and one of them is to be culturally aware. As you will be residing and functioning in a different culture, it is crucial to be mindful of the local customs and traditions. This could affect your attire, speech, and interactions with the locals.
It’s essential for travelers to exhibit cultural sensitivity throughout their trip, as inappropriate behavior can cause offense to others or give a negative reputation to all travelers.
Embassy Assistance in Emergencies and Avoiding Legal Trouble
In case of an emergency, while studying abroad, it is advisable to contact your country’s embassy. Keep the contact information and address of the embassy with you at all times. If necessary, the study abroad resident program staff can also assist.
Note: It is important to abide by local laws while abroad. Breaking the law in a foreign country can result in imprisonment, and your home country, friends, and program staff may not be able to help. To have a safe and enjoyable time abroad, it is best to avoid engaging in any illegal activities.
Memorize or write down important numbers and passwords
With the reliance on mobile phones, it’s easy to forget phone numbers and passwords. When studying abroad, you may need to get a new phone or access a computer at school. To avoid stress, make sure to memorize or write down a few crucial phone numbers and passwords or password hints so you can make calls and log in easily.
Buy a Suitable cell phone plan
It’s worth considering purchasing a local SIM card if you’re planning on studying abroad for an extended period of time. Before you leave, consult with your mobile service provider to understand the costs associated with roaming and data plans, to avoid a large bill upon your return. While free Wi-Fi is readily available in many places, such as your school, accommodation, and public areas, it’s still beneficial to have a way to stay connected when not in a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Greet your host family or roommates
If you have the contact information of your host family or roommates, reach out and introduce yourself before leaving. They may be just as eager to get to know you as you are to know them, so a warm greeting would be a kind and considerate gesture.