7 Things To Do Before You Leave To Study Abroad

By Sarah Christine Davis on November 28, 2015

The time you thought would never actually come is inching nearer and nearer. You’ve signed all the papers and paid all the fees, but it hasn’t set in that this is actually happening.

As you anticipate studying abroad this January, the nerves and excitement are settling in at a rapid pace.

Instead of just anxiously awaiting the day you fly away for the semester, you can cultivate this nervous energy to your benefit so that you can be sure that your studying abroad experience is the absolute best that it can be!

Read on for a list of things that you should be sure to do before that fateful day in January.

1. Spend time with your friends and family.

Image via the Huffington Post

Most people don’t go more than a few months without visiting their hours-away family while they’re in college.

This will probably be the first time that you’re so far away from your family for such a long amount of time. You can both prepare ahead for potential homesickness and help prevent it by spending as much time as possible with your family before you leave.

The same thing goes for your friends — especially the friends with whom you go to college. These are people who you see several times per week, if not every single day. The homesickness may be stronger with them. As with your family, spend as much time with them as possible to help ease the situation once you leave the country.

Recognizing that it might be difficult to go without seeing your family and friends before you leave for your trip will make it easier to deal with potential homesickness that you face while you’re abroad.

2. Get to know the people who you’ll be traveling with.

Image via Square Mouth

On that note, you’ll be making tons of new friends to make happy memories with while you’re studying abroad.

Before you leave your home country, get to know the people who you’ll be spending so much time with in a new place.

Your nerves will be matched with theirs, creating an instant connection that will make it easier to start a meaningful friendship.

Getting to know them a little bit before you leave will make the trip less intimidating so you can focus on the amazing sights you’ll see and education you’ll receive.

3. Speak with other students who have studied abroad.

Image via Pixabay

Speaking with other students who have studied abroad about their personal experience is another way to ease yourself of your nerves.

They can give you insider tips that you probably never would have thought of otherwise. After all, it never hurts to have some extra insight in your brain bank.

If you speak with someone who studied abroad in the same country that you will be in, they can give you even more specific tips about where to go, what to eat (and what not to eat), etc.

4. Research your tourism options.

Aside from asking your peers about their experiences studying abroad, you can do some research on your own with your computer.

Travel websites such as Expedia and review websites such as Yelp are invaluable sources that can give you insight and knowledge about monuments, restaurants, and annual events in the country.

A simple Google search for “best restaurants in Cambria” or “must-see attractions in Valencia” is the perfect place to start your research.

5. Make a packing list (and check it twice).

Image via Flickr

Prevent over packing and forgetting something that you need by creating a packing list.

More than any other trip, this will be an easy trip to over pack for, as you’ll probably have very little idea what you’re going to be doing and what type of clothing you’ll need.

Be sure that you’re knowledgeable about the weather, climate, culture and landscape in the country that you’ll be traveling to.

There are also a few things that you’ll need almost wherever you travel to, such as an electrical adapter, the necessary travel documents, and your personal banking information.

6. Get in the mindset of studying abroad.

Image via Pixabay

One thing that many people forget when they’re planning to study abroad is that that’s just what they’re doing — studying, and it just happens to be abroad.

As important as it is to appreciate the cultural experience of studying abroad, it’s also imperative that you prioritize your studies.

If you plan your time well enough, you can study and do homework around the more fun, touristy things that you want to do.

7. Understand (and appreciate) that you can’t plan for everything.

Image via Pixabay

While this can certainly be a huge reason to stress out about studying abroad, it’s also a huge part of the fun and spontaneity of the entire experience.

No matter how hard you try to plan for everything, something will inevitably happen that you didn’t prepare for. And that’s okay. That’s how you learn.

The unplanned experience will inexorably be one of the most monumental memories of your trip. Just let it happen. 

I'm Sarah! I graduated from Florida State University last year (Go Noles! Except for Jameis.). I now live in Raleigh, NC and I’m an editor at a tech startup. I enjoy puns and corny jokes — your dad probably thinks I'm hilarious.

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