Make sure all your paperwork is in order. Get your passport as early as possible, and apply for your visa(s) on time If you have a passport, double and triple check the expiration date. Make sure it will last you well beyond your semester abroad.
2 Secure your courses, flights and housing.
All study abroad programs are unique, but most involve traditional coursework. Know what classes you’ll be taking and when they meet (so you can plan activities around that schedule) and where you’ll be staying (to determine your commute). If you’re doing some travel before your semester begins, that’s great! Just make sure you’ve booked a flight to your study abroad destination. That’s the whole point of the trip, so don’t leave it up to chance.
3 Keep up to date with the currency exchange.
When deciding where to study abroad, many students consider daily expenses, but some of the cheapest countries to visit are also the least stable. Don’t assume that the US dollar will have the same value when you’re studying abroad as it did when you checked the exchange rate five months ago, especially if your country has a particularly volatile economy.
4 Watch the news for any updates on your destination.
You’ll want to know if your study abroad country’s economy is tanking, if their metro system is falling apart, if they’re experiencing major political upheavals, if they’re in the middle of a health crisis, etc. Some of the best places to study abroad are in economic or political flux, so don’t panic over every little incident. Simply work new knowledge into your existing study abroad plans.
5 Register your semester with your home government.
You’re going overseas. Wi-fi might be spotty, cell coverage could be non existent and sometimes you’ll be 100% on your own. It’s one of the reasons why study abroad is so exciting, but it also makes you vulnerable. Take comfort in the fact that, whatever happens, the government has you on their radar and knows who to contact in an emergency.
6 Get all necessary health check ups and vaccinations.
Your doctor might recommend you visit a travel clinic, where you’ll find out exactly what you’ll need to stay healthy overseas. Contact your health insurance company to let them know where and when you’ll be traveling and request your prescriptions in advance.
7 Organize your flights and itinerary.
Gather all your plane tickets, itineraries, maps, etc., and keep them on hand (or in your bag, actually we don’t want any boarding passes or bus tickets left in seat pockets) for stress-free, efficient travel. By getting everything organized ahead of time, you can lay back and enjoy the ride especially when you consider all the money you saved with our exclusive student discounts!
8 Let multiple people know where you are going and how to get in contact.
Obviously you should let friends and family know you’re studying abroad—that’s a given. But make sure to check in frequently during your trip, and let people know if you’re leaving campus on weekend trips or school breaks
9 Talk to your bank.
Meet with your bank to find out how your credit and debit cards work overseas. Some banks will have their own, hassle-free atms in your area, and some might have regional partners that don’t charge a fee for withdrawing cash. If you belong to a smaller bank that doesn’t have an international presence, plan for that. Lean on a traveler’s credit card as much as possible, and only take out cash when absolutely necessary.
10 Make sure all your credits will be accepted at your home university.
Study abroad programs pre-approved by your department should be no problem, but if it’s something you found online or through another office, you should speak with an academic advisor to make sure you’ll be on track when you return to college. The last thing you want after studying abroad is to find out that none of those classes count toward your degree.
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