What you should know before studying abroad

Studying abroad is a more significant commitment than you may realize

While some students may think studying abroad is similar to attending an out-of-state school, they couldn’t be more wrong. Not only will you need to navigate a new culture and maybe even a new language – but it also takes a lot more preparation.

But don’t worry! We put together a list of everything you need to get prepared to venture overseas and start your new adventure.  

You’re going to need a current passport and student visa

Ensure that you have your passport or complete the passport application process as early as possible to prevent any delays. Especially when traveling outside of the country.

If you need a Visa, make sure you look up the country’s requirements as they vary from country to country. You can find some country-specific details on the Visa application process here.

Make sure your housing and travel arrangements in order

Before studying abroad, it’s crucial to have all housing arrangements made before arrival. While some schools may help you with this step as far as student apartments or dormitories, others leave you to fend for yourself.

This is where you’ll decide if you want to fully immerse yourself and live with an exchange family, or find student-friendly housing. Here are some websites that can help with your housing search abroad:

·   UniPlaces

·   Study Abroad Apartments

·   Nestpick

·   Housing Anywhere

·   Roomi

Whether you’re going straight to your new home abroad or you plan to travel before the semester begins —  make sure you have all of your flights and train tickets booked and paid for so that you’re ready to go.

Exchange your currency before you leave the US

Not every country will accept the U.S. Dollar, so find out what currency your new country takes and get some “cash.” Going to your personal bank and ordering some currency beforehand will save you time and money.

It would also be a good idea to look into credit cards that do not charge international exchange fees, just in case you have a situation where you might not have cash on you. It’s also smart to talk to your bank and see if they have international partners to reduce any ATM fees or have an international presence in the country you will be residing in.

Stay current with local news

Subscribe to notifications from the U.S. Embassy; they’ll help keep you informed if there are any risks to U.S. citizens in the country you will be living in. When studying abroad, whether it’s at your home base or while traveling around, it’s important always to know where the nearest US Embassy is located.

It’s also good to know what’s going on in general in your surrounding area for political changes, health issues, international crises, or just general holiday events. Hopefully, nothing major will come up, but it’s still good to stay informed.

Make sure you get all necessary vaccinations before studying abroad

It’s recommended that students should visit a travel clinic to get information on staying healthy overseas. Inform your health insurance company where you will be traveling and see if you can request any necessary prescriptions in advance.

Certain countries also require that you receive different vaccinations to enter. Do some research and find out if you already have those vaccinations or if you will need to make arrangements to get those before you travel.

Double-check with your college about credit transfers

Study abroad programs should be pre-approved by your college, so the credit transfer process shouldn’t be a problem. If it is a program that you found outside of your school, you should double-check with an academic advisor to make sure that the school will accept the credits. It would be unfortunate to spend the time and money studying abroad if the credits will not transfer and help you earn your degree.

Studying abroad is such an amazing experience – pack a camera and take it all in!