10 Travel Tips for Students Who Have Never Studied Abroad
Deciding to partake in this journey is half the battle, one you have already won. In case you are starting to feel pre-departure jitters, here are some tips to help calm your nerves and have a grasp on your adventure ahead.
1. Research where you’re going
If you were going to do just one step, this would be the step you should delve into. Having basic information about the country you’ll be living in will make you best prepared as soon as you step off the plane. Learn about the customs, meal times, slang, currency, climate, government, academic setting, attire, current events, nonverbal meanings, and more. Getting a grip of how the country works and what is currently going on there now will help you assimilate quicker and easier.
2. Talk to people who studied abroad in that country
These people will have all the answers to your questions, tips for living in the country, and stories to get you amped about going. People who have studied abroad are usually more than willing to sit down and share their experiences with you, so do not feel bad asking them to take time out of their day to talk with you. If you don’t know anyone who went abroad in your country, ask your Global Learning or Study Abroad office if they could give you contact information.
3. Check with bank about foreign transaction fees
Using your card across borders or seas means your bank will have some sort of fee. Check with your bank before you leave so you have a heads up of what extra costs you may incur. For example, a bank may charge a $5 fee every time you withdraw money, or charge a 3% fee every time you use your card somewhere. It’s also important to let your bank know where you will be going so they do not freeze your card while you are abroad.
4. Book your flight and get some tips from your frequent flyer friends
If you have never flown or have not flown often, get some tips from your friends to help soothe any flying worries. Having someone to confer in about getting through security, finding the gates, and grabbing public transportation after landing is a great way to feel more secure about the whole process. If you’re fortunate enough to be traveling with a friend, then that’s a bonus!
5. Double check with the university that your classes will transfer the way you hope them to.
Classes in a different country work differently, meaning how they transfer may be a little funky. Having a conversation with your advisor or registrar before leaving about what classes you’re interested in taking while abroad and how they will look like on your transcript when you come back will not only assuage any fears of not graduating on time, but smooth out the bumps before departing, making your life easier while abroad.
6. What to bring and what not to bring
Packing is the hardest task to accomplish. How does one pack for a five month trip in a carry on and one suitcase? First tip is to pack light, you will be purchasing lots of items while abroad, so having the extra space already allocated for these items is nice. Secondly, pack two weeks worth of clothes, and clothes you don’t mind throwing out near the end. Clothes aren’t the highest priority while abroad, but they’re still important. Pack plain, clothes that layer so you can mix and match, creating several different outfits with the same articles of clothing.
7. Research the carry on and baggage limitations
With your bag, there is a weight limit. With the carry on, there are limitations of what you can and cannot bring on the plane with you. Transportation Security Administration has a list of all prohibited items as well as detailed information about liquids. Double check with your airline their weight limitations for your checked bag. By finding this information before you get to the airport, you can ease time and stress through ensuring that you have met all expectations.
8. Pack a few home keepsakes in case you get homesick
Whether that be a picture of your family, a necklace that holds sentimental value, or a letter from a friend, having that item that you can look to when you’re missing home will help you take a step back and acknowledge how important home is for you, but that you’ll be back sooner before you know it.
More: Read This If You’re Unsure About Going Abroad
9. Spend time with friends and family before leaving
Passing your last few days in the United States with your loved ones will help calm your nerves. Family and friends are the greatest support system, encouraging and motivating you to pull through. Exchange Skype usernames and text messaging apps like Whatsapp to continue the contact after you leave. If you ever feel any sort of doubt, your close ones will abrogate that in an instant and remind you that you can do this.
10. Remember why you’re doing this
You are going to broaden your worldview, to learn more about different cultures and lifestyles, to exercise language skills, to become a better person. You are going on an adventure of a lifetime, an adventure that less than 1.5 percent of college students partake as undergraduates. Your worries now will not matter as soon as you step off that plane and immerse yourself into a new, amazing place.