July 18 2016

Before You Go Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know

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You’ve likely heard it before, that your semester studying abroad will be the best time of your life. And it’s true. Even though it sounds pretty cheesy, you will not only experience tremendous growth culturally, but also intellectually, socially and individually during your time abroad. In order to have an unforgettable abroad experience that lives up to your expectations, here’s what you should know and keep in mind before you take off:

Pick a study abroad destination that is right for you

When picking a study abroad destination, there are tons of things to consider. Location matters. If you plan to spend your weekends visiting other countries, then being in a centrally located area is key. If you want to immerse yourself in a single country, then the centrality of your destination is less relevant. Also, be sure to consider the cultural experience you want to enjoy and language barriers you may encounter. Make sure to choose a study abroad destination because it’s what you want and because it’s well-suited to what you hope to get out of your experience. Don’t choose a destination simply because it’s where your friends are going.

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Research, find and reserve your home sweet home as soon as possible

Where you live and whom you live with will largely depend on your abroad university’s housing policy. If the university you plan on attending requires you to live on campus, make sure that the housing options are centrally located in the city. When it comes to housing, it’s very important to consider what experience you want to have. Do you want to live with locals or other international students? Or, do you want to enjoy the comforts of living with friends or other American students? Either way, be sure to book your abroad housing as soon as you can.

When it comes to packing, less is more

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Image published with permission from All Things Abroad. Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

The key to packing like a pro for abroad is to avoid over-packing. In terms of clothing, bring basics that can be layered and re-worn, and leave your expensive belongings at home. Be sure to research the typical temperature and weather for your abroad city and destinations you plan on visiting, and pack accordingly. For ladies, a medium size cross-body bag with a zipper will become your life support, and should allow you to keep your belongings safe from pick pockets. Save money and stress by bringing adapters and converters with you. Most importantly, fill a small zippered pouch or envelope with your passport, proof of abroad housing, study abroad university acceptance letter, visa (if applicable), return flight information, a letter from your home institution stating your purpose for being abroad, proof of healthcare, and copies of each of these documents. Also, be sure to place copies of these documents in a second place for safe keeping.

Time Flies when you’re Studying Abroad

Wherever you choose to go, your time abroad is bound to fly by. In order to maximize your time abroad, think about the cities and sites you want to visit before you go abroad, and begin planning your first few trips, or busy trips such as Oktoberfest and Halloween, before leaving home. Find an outlet to record and reflect upon your experiences abroad, be it through a journal or a digital platform such as All Things Abroad.

Check out All Things Abroad for a study abroad packing checklist and to find the answers to any questions you might still have.

Now, you’re all set to go. We wish you a safe and unforgettable journey!



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