College Student Tips for Studying Abroad
College Student Tips for Studying Abroad
Studying abroad is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience for college students. It can be logistically, financially, and academically challenging to afford yourself the opportunity, but worth the work. Before you go, there’s a lot of preparation to be done, from selecting a program to packing and ensuring you’ll have the right type of adapter for electronics to enrolling in classes. If you’re one of the lucky students who is taking a semester to experience another culture, here are some tips for studying abroad:
Make Connections Before You Leave
Before you go, get to know some of the students you’ll be living and studying with. If your university has a program, there may be pre-trip events and meetings. It’s also important to have a trusted friend who has already completed a semester abroad, preferably in the same country before you leave.
If you don’t know someone who’s done this program before, ask the study abroad program coordinator if they can connect you with someone. These former participants will have specific recommendations and tips for studying abroad and can help navigate the unique challenges or opportunities available in the country you’ll be visiting.
Invest in Luggage
Especially if you’re studying abroad in Europe, you’ll have opportunities to take quick trips to other countries regularly. A really well-designed and durable carry-on or weekend bag will be your best friend when you’re studying abroad. Even though you’ll pay a little more, it will be worth the convenience. Companies like Away offer stylish, modern luggage with a lifetime warranty.
Take It Easy on Classes
A study abroad experience is your chance to immerse yourself in a foreign culture. Be sure to stay on track academically, but don’t take too many classes. Give yourself some room to explore and travel on the weekends, rather than being tied to a textbook. If you have a difficult class that can wait until you’re back at your university, postpone the course.
Before you go, monitor the exchange rates and get some cash to have on hand. While you don’t want to have more than a few hundred U.S. dollars on hand for safety reasons, get some currency exchanged to get you started. Become familiar with these exchange rates so you can confidently purchase goods and services when you reach your study abroad destination.
If you’re studying in a major city with tourist activity, exchanging currency should be an easy task. In some countries, American money is actually quite valuable and may be accepted in tourist areas. Check with your credit or debit card provider to see what types of foreign transaction fees will apply to your purchases or withdrawals.
It’s hard to imagine living without a phone, especially when you’ll need it for getting around and communicating with family back home. Some phone providers offer affordable international services. Call your provider about your specific plan and cell phone before you leave. Most modern phones will work for some services, especially if WiFi is available.
If you’ve made connections with students that have already done a study abroad program, ask for their advice on the specific country and what they used while traveling. Affordable prepaid plans are available in many places, but the quality of service, ease of access, and price range can vary greatly by the provider.
Pack Your Apartment Before You Leave
If you’ll be gone for a full semester or summer, paying rent for a place you’re not using is an expense that should be avoided. If you can get out of your lease for the semester, pack your items and use a valet storage service. Simplify Valet Storage will pick up your items or furniture for you and keep them securely stored until you get back to NYC. The company makes storage easy by coordinating a pickup and drop off time and a simple, affordable fee structure that means you’ll have no surprises when it’s time to retrieve your items. Simplify Valet Storage also requires no annual commitment, so you can store items for just one semester while you’re traveling. Get a quote today.