Congratulations on being accepted to your study abroad program! Your next task is to prepare for one of the most adventurous times of your life. To avoid unnecessary stress and mishaps, here are some general tips to follow. Be sure to check with your program director or university for more specific preparations.
1. Take care of proper travel documents.
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one right away. If your passport is up to six months from expiration, be sure to renew it accordingly. Some countries may require travel visas, so be sure to check your country’s embassy website. When buying plane tickets, check with your university’s travel agency first; they can help you purchase tickets with a student discount. .
2. Prepare your travel funds
To avoid your bank putting a hold on your account, let them know your travel dates as well as the countries you will be visiting. You should also check to see if your bank partners with any banks in your host country. If that is the case, you may be able to avoid transaction fees. Be sure to research how purchases are conducted in your host country. Do most transactions require cash, or can you usually use your debit or credit card? Ask your program director about recommended cash amounts to carry.
3. Do some research on your host country’s language and etiquette.
This will be especially important if you have little prior knowledge about your host country. Try to learn a few useful phrases: “please,” “thank you,” and “can you tell me where ______ is located,” can make all the difference. To avoid embarrassing interactions with foreign classmates or a host family, have a basic knowledge of your host country’s manners. You’ll be more likely to get your cultural experience off on a good start!
4. Be aware of what you need to bring and what to leave behind.
Before you start packing, check your airline’s baggage restrictions to avoid any unexpected fees. Be aware of the expected weather while you are there, and pack accordingly. If you want to use anything that requires an outlet, be sure to have the proper adapter. Many programs strongly recommend a card holder that you can put around your neck to carry your passport, cash, and other necessary identification cards.