As a college student, I know that the prospect of studying abroad is exciting and exhilarating, and often can even be one of the major deciding factors as to where you go to school. So here’s to all of the future adventurers and explorers of the world who are daring to take a semester or year abroad. Go for it and embrace it fully. It can be an exciting but scary and nerve-racking time for those preparing to leave, so here are some must-know secrets to keep in mind before studying abroad. Take a deep breath, don’t panic, we’ve got you covered. It’s going to be epic.
1. Pick the Right Program For You
Pick a program that actually interests you. You don’t want to be stuck for a semester in a country where you literally hate everything you’re doing.
2. Use Your Advisor!
Talk to your advisor to make sure you plan ahead so you can manage all of your courses and fulfill all of your reqs when you get back.
3. It’s Worth Knowing the Language (even just a little!)
Grab a book and get crackin’ on those key phrases. It’ll pay off in the end.
4. Don’t Procrastinate on Your Visa
Get your passport and visas done correctly and ahead of schedule. You can’t go anywhere if you don’t have your passport.
5. Don’t Bring Your Whole Closet
Don’t pack fifteen suitcases worth of stuff. You’re not going to an underground bunker. There will be stores…
6. Packing Light is Key
So find a nice small bag, and pack lightly.
7. Download WhatsApp
WhatsApp is your friend. Get it, download it, use it.
8. Be Open to New Things!
Be adventurous and try all types food, no matter how weird it looks. You’re guaranteed to find something amazing.
9. Be Spontaneous!
On the weekends make an effort to explore parts of the country you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. You never know what you might find.
10. Learn the Monetary System and Exchange Currency
Try to do this before you leave. You don’t want to be without cash in case you run into trouble.
11. Get your International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
Again, it’s best to be on top of this before you leave. Then, you can utilize all of its perks when you’re in the country, like reduced fares for public transportation and leisure activities.
12. Being Homesick is Normal
It’s okay if the first three weeks are hard. It takes time to adjust and it’s completely normal to feel anxious about being abroad.
13. Embrace the Experience
Let yourself get lost in the experience and the culture of the country you’re in. Your life back home will still be waiting, so get out of your comfort zone!
14. Learn the Social Norms
The social expectations could be different depending the country you’re headed to. No one wants to be disrespectful.
15. Prepare yourself!
Read up on the country and its history, prepare yourself for being away, and do what you need to do to feel confident about studying abroad….
16. But Also… Be Prepared to be Unprepared
But remember, no matter how much you prepare yourself, something is bound to go wrong!
17. Everyone is nervous.
You’re not the only one feeling a little uneasy. Take time to meet the people you’re with and to get to know your surroundings.
18. You Will Change
You will return home having changed and that’s okay. People will be attracted to your deeper character.
19. Talking About Your Experience is Good!
When you get back, all you’ll want to do is talk about studying abroad! Don’t be discouraged if your friends get tired of hearing your stories. Find some new people to talk to and share your adventures with.
20. Soak It All In!
Most of all, enjoy yourself because this time well spent. You may never get another chance like this again, so soak it all in and be present in the moment.