Being able to study abroad is a wonderful opportunity to learn a new culture, see how other schools teach, meet new people, and broaden your horizons. It requires a lot of preparation so here are 12 handy tips to help you get ready to study overseas.
Get a Passport
Visas and Other Travel Documents
If you don’t already have one – and as a student you likely don’t – apply for a passport as early as possible. It takes longer than you think and the fees for expedited processing are high. The State Department website has information to get you started.
Find out if you need a foreign visa – it will vary by country and situation. Your school and/or the program running your study abroad program should be able to advise you. The State Department website has good resources for student travel. Check the Consular Information Sheet for the most recent travel information and alerts for the area you’re visiting. Register with the local embassy on your arrival so they can reach you in the event of an emergency.
Verify with your school what you’ll need to transfer the foreign college credits. Check with the other school to ensure there are no complications or additional requirements on their end.
Set a budget for the trip and your living expenses while there. Ask your bank about transfer charges, international ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, etc. NerdWallet has a lot of useful information about this. Notify your bank and credit card companies that you’re leaving the country so your account isn’t flagged for fraud and locked down.
Make sure your budget includes:
- Travel (for there and back, plus within the area and side trips)
Consider a VPN for safer Internet use while away. Before you leave, make sure you know your essential online passwords, especially for banking. Leave valuable jewelry at home. Even if the area is safe, you’re more likely to be distracted and lose items. Avoid flashy clothing that draws attention or marks you as a tourist.
Ask your cell provider about international calling and data rates. Sometimes adding an international plan is cheaper and other times getting a cheap mobile phone in your host country is a better choice. Another possibility is getting a local SIM card and pay-as-you-go plan. Look into apps like Skype, Messenger, or WhatsApp that might be cheaper alternatives to texting. And one more time – always check the data rates!
Research the Area
You’ll be better prepared if you know something about where you’ll be staying. Look into:
- The area you’ll be in and any places you should avoid
- Where the closest U.S. Embassy is and its contact info
- Public transportation
- Local culture
- Nearby places you can visit
- Local food and drink to try
- Shopping areas – both for mundane items and local crafts
Find out what type of current is used in that area and get adaptors if necessary. For bulky items like blow-dryers, it might be easier and cheaper to buy one there. Streamline the devices you bring to avoid theft, complications, etc.
Spend time before the trip brushing up on your language skills so you can navigate more easily.
Get student health insurance – it’s much safer to buy it and not need it than to have a huge bill due to an accident or illness. Some schools might even require that you get it. Consider travel insurance as well.
Storing Your Stuff
You can’t bring everything with you so you might have to store your belongings while you’re away. Box&Co. can make it easy for you by dropping off boxes and picking them up when packed for storage. Consider autopay so you don’t miss a payment while you’re gone.
Think layers and combinations that work to create many outfits instead of bringing your entire closet. Get good walking shoes and shoes that can go with casual or dressy clothing. Bring toiletries for a week or so and plan on restocking there. Don’t bring food – you might not be able to bring it in anyway.
Travel and studying abroad can be a wonderful, life-changing experience. Planning ahead will make help you avoid headaches and make your overseas education experience a more enjoyable one.
Box&Co. for Easier Storage
With Box&Co., there’s no reason for you to haul boxes. After booking arrangements, we’ll drop off storage containers and pick them up for free after you pack them. What could be easier than that? We’ll return your items when they’re needed, and you can keep track of your stored items online. To learn more or to book storage space with us, contact us today.