So, you’re studying abroad this year – how totally awesome. We know you can’t wait to get on that plane and experience how other people live life overseas. Before you do that, you’re going to have to do some serious planning. It will save you in the long run, so that you can study abroad as carefree as you can (well, aside from the stress that schoolwork will bring.) We have 6 tips that will help you plan for your study abroad trip!
1. First thing’s first – have all of your travel documents ready!
You can’t go anywhere out of the country without a valid passport, so this is the first thing you are definitely going to need. When you’re applying for a new Canadian passport, it takes between 10 to 20 business days for it to process – and this is not including mailing time. If you already have one, double check the expiration date so that it’s not expired but also, that it won’t expire while you’re studying abroad. Depending on how long you’re staying, and where it is you’re going to, you may also need a student visa.
2. Get travel insurance
A lot can happen in a semester or year. Though we don’t want to think about the worst, you should always prepare yourself for it. Travel insurance can help you get out of any sticky situation when you are studying abroad, but only if you purchase it before you leave home. Though your health insurance provider will likely cover medical costs, travel insurance will help you if something happens to your flight or luggage, if something of yours gets stolen, and if (though hopefully not) there is an emergency evacuation.
3. Create a packing list
We strongly advise against packing the day before your study abroad trip. Seriously. You are going away for a semester or a year, not for a week or two! We promise it’s going to save you a great deal of stress (and honestly, time) if you plan at least a month ahead. Creating a packing list for your study abroad essentials will ease your mind, and keep you on track with what you have or need to get before you jet off. Aside from looking at the overall climate of where you’re going to, it’s also important to know how conservative the area is. It’s important to be respectful of the cultural norms of where you’re studying abroad, which brings us to our next point…
4. Research your destination’s local customs and culture
You’re going to be far from home for a while, so why not familiarize yourself with your temporary new home? Learning more about where you’re going to live for your study abroad term will not only help with culture shock, but also excite you for what is about to come! Researching ahead of time will put you in the know of where to eat, what sites to see, and what festivals or holidays the people there celebrate. It will also teach you what is culturally acceptable or not. Life will be slightly different from what you’re used to at home, so it is important to know what the differences are to avoid insult. Plus, also, it will make you feel like you’re truly a local!
5. Create a budget
Yes, we know, the dreaded budget. As much as we would love to live our complete fantasy when we’re studying abroad, it is totally not realistic. Plus, do you really want to wind up broke during the first month or two of your study abroad trip? Remember this: we’re not saying that you can’t do anything off your bucket list. We’re just encouraging to be mindful of how you are spending funds so that you can save for what you are most excited for. You should also be mindful of the exchange rates between your currency and that of your destination. It can be confusing, but it will definitely help you in the long run. Thankfully, there are several currency converter apps you can use!
6. Plan for all your technological needs
Your family and friends are definitely going to want to keep in touch with you while you’re studying abroad (and we’re sure you’re going to want to share every juicy detail about your time abroad too!) In order to do that – without breaking the bank with international phone charges – you’re going to want to look into the best option for you and your phone in order to stay in touch with everyone at home. This will, again, require some research because each destination will be different in terms of what will save you the most money. You could either get a study abroad phone with a local plan, or you could unlock your smartphone and input a local SIM. Make sure you scope out all options before you fly over!