As you prepare for your study abroad trip, you might be wondering where to even begin. Luckily, most of what’s on your to-do list can fit into three main categories.
Once you finish these tasks, the only thing you’ll have left to do is pack!
1. Brush Up on the Language and Culture
If you’re heading to a country where the residents don’t speak your language, make sure you’re prepared to handle this. You don’t necessarily have to be fluent in the language that is spoken at your destination, but you should at least know some common words and phrases. Write down or make a note in your phone of much-needed phrases such as “Where is the bathroom?” and “How much does it cost?”
Of course, you will likely learn more of the language once you arrive. After all, language immersion is a great way to eventually become fluent. Rarely will you get a better chance to learn a new language in a short amount of time.
You should also get a feel for the culture. For example, find out if there are any gestures or actions that might be offensive where you’re going. You wouldn’t want to accidentally insult anyone!
In addition to general social norms, learn as much as you can about local holidays and food etiquette. Preparing yourself for these kinds of things can help you avoid culture shock… at least to some extent!
2. Prepare Financially
You can’t prepare for your study abroad adventure without thinking about finances. You should first find out how much the entire program with cost you including not only the cost of tuition but also travel, food, entertainment, and living expenses. Once you know the total costs you can start evaluating how you will pay for it.
If you cannot afford the costs up front, look into all available financial aid options. Start with a simple internet search to uncover potential scholarships or reach out to your study abroad advisor. If you haven’t already, get a part-time job and start putting money aside. Ask your neighbors or teachers if they need a babysitter. You can also look into options such as selling on such sites as Ebay and Poshmark. And don’t forget, you can also make money while you’re abroad to help cover costs.
You should also consider whether you will need insurance when you study abroad. It’s usually a good idea to insure your belongings in case you lose them in another country. You might also find you need health insurance since your current policy probably won’t cover you outside of the country. Make sure to ask your program for details on these things!
3. Get the Proper Documents
You will find that preparing to study abroad involves gathering up some important paperwork. At the very least, you will need an updated passport to leave the country. Depending on which nation you plan to study abroad in, you might also need to apply for a student visa.
Another way to prepare for your study abroad trip is to find out which vaccinations you need to enter your destination. Some countries require proof that you have been vaccinated against specific diseases, so find out this information.
Once you gather the right documents for your study abroad trip, find out whether anything must be translated, provided the country you are heading to does not speak English. If your trip is coming up soon, you can benefit from a rush translation of personal documents so you can be as prepared as possible for your semester abroad.