You are about to go on board on the adventure of your life, so it’s normal to feel excited. But there are some things you need to know before you catch the flight. In this article, you’re going to learn how to prepare for your study abroad, and what things should you pack.
First things first: You’ve found a great study program abroad, you’ve been accepted, and how you’re getting all excited for studying in another country. Congrats! It’s a wonderful thing, and now you just need to prepare yourself for the great trip. What should you include in your suitcase? Do you need travel insurance? How should you handle your money?
To be sure you’re all set before your leaving date, get your passport 6 to 12 months earlier. Don’t worry, everyone who went overseas to study was nervous at first, but with some preparation and research into how to prepare for your studying abroad you can be well on your way to making the best of it.
1. Apply for a Passport and Visa
To study abroad, you must have a valid passport. If you already have one, make sure you check that it is not expired and that it will not expire in the next six months. (This is because many countries will refuse entry if your passport expires within a few months of planned entry.) You can apply directly at certain state and country offices, the selected post offices, or at a state department passport agency. It can take up to six months to get a passport or even a year depending how busy things are. So, make sure you start early. If this is your first time applying for a passport, don’t forget to bring your birth certificate, 2 passport-sized photos, your driver’s license (or any other legal identification), and your passport application.
Additionally, you might need a visa to study abroad. Different countries have different rules so check your study abroad destinations’ requirements on the state department’s website. You can also contact an embassy of the country you plan on traveling to in order to receive information about visa necessities and travel restrictions. Depending on which country in where you are traveling, the visa can take some time to process, so hurry up with your visa application!
2. Get a Reliable Travel Insurance
It’s essential to have a reliable health insurance policy when studying abroad and a coverage for emergency evacuation, although we always hope it never comes to that. Your health insurance might cover you abroad, but even so, there are some things that travel insurance does not cover. These include:
- Stolen personal belongings
- Coverage if your flight is delayed or is canceled
- Evacuation in case of a natural disaster or a health insurance
You can look for travel insurance through many providers online. Do your research and choose inexpensive insurance that is offered to students and young people who are under 25 years old.
3. Research Your New Destination’s Local Culture
It’s more than recommended to familiarize yourself with your study abroad country. Knowing something about your soon-to-be home’s customs, economy, history, and so on, will make your abroad experience much more enjoyable and meaningful. Talk to people who already have been there and look for opportunities to read more about the country’s culture and customs. Knowing the basic sayings in the local language can make a huge difference and help you overcome being overwhelmed.
4. Pack Your Things!
This is incredibly essential: pack light! Make sure you double-check your airline and see what luggage you are allowed to bring on so you can avoid additional costs. Don’t pack more than a backpack, a suitcase and one personal item such as a purse unless you are sure you can bring more items.
Don’t weigh yourself down by bringing all the unnecessary stuff.
Other useful packing tips:
- Bring travel-sized toiletries, they’ll be good for the first 2 or 3 weeks.
- Buy towels and bed sheets on arrival, so you won’t waste space in your luggage on that.
- Pack your personal items that make you feel at home such as your accessories or buy things that would make you relaxed while you are abroad such as nice cozy pajamas that you can find at online sleepwear and pajamas collections.
- Bring power adaptors for your electronics.
- Bring medication in case you get sick. If you are bringing prescription medication, be sure to keep it in its original containers.
- Leave your blow-dryer at home! In most countries the voltage difference will fry your unit and possibly the apartment you staying in.
If you don’t know what to bring with you, ask your study abroad program for a suggested packing list. Maybe most of the items you want to bring with you will already be available overseas. Also, be sure to check the weather in the country you plan on studying. For example. you could pack a lot of shorts and T-shirts, but if you plan on studying in the UK, that might just be silly. Just pack a single pair in case you travel somewhere warmer during your time abroad.
Consider bringing a notebook with you to write about your study experiences or to jot them down electronically. Also, you’re going to make friends there, so bring some small souvenirs from your life back home to gift your new roommates and friends.
5. Prepare Yourself Mentally
Goodbyes can be tough, but sometimes, they’re a necessary part of life's journey. Think of all the excitement you’ll have! Studying abroad might help you encounter people with different experiences and life philosophies, so be ready to observe these differences without judging. These differences can enrich your understanding of your culture as well as others. The people you will meet will often be curious about your life and culture. Make a habit of reading newspapers and magazines to find out the recent events in the country you are going to live in for your study abroad. Inform your family members where you will be going and what you’ll be doing, so you can have their support to go through the challenges of living in an unfamiliar environment that is far away from home.
You can’t expect to be fully prepared when studying abroad, but these tips might be helpful for living in another country. Studying abroad can be very exciting and be one of the best times of your life. You will be meeting people from all over the world, gaining new experiences, and making memories for a lifetime! Living independently in a foreign country can be quite difficult and stressful, but it will also help you grow and be more responsible and educated.