How to Prepare this Summer for Studying Abroad in Fall

By Christine Ascher on May 12, 2018

Most students look forward to summer as a welcome break in between two hectic semesters. However, if you’ve decided to study abroad in the fall, you may be impatient for the summer to be over so you can get your travels started. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll have a lot of preparation to complete before you can set off—and the summer gives you plenty of time to do it. To make the most of the summer before you study abroad, and to ensure that you’re fully prepared for your trip, keep in mind some of the following ways that you can get ready over the next couple of months for your study abroad experience.

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Practice Your Language Skills

If you’re going to be studying in a country where people speak a language other than English, the summer is the perfect time for you to brush up on your language skills, particularly in terms of speaking and listening. Once you arrive in your host country, you’re going to have to start speaking the local language almost immediately, so practice as much as you can before you leave. The summer before you study abroad is also a good time to memorize some of the vocabulary that you think you might need. For instance, make sure you know how to exchange greetings, ask for directions, and order food in the local language, as these are probably the phrases that you’ll be using the most often.

Get Your Visa in Order

If you need to obtain a student visa before leaving for study abroad, make sure that you start the application process well ahead of time. It can take over a month for you to actually receive your visa, so if you wait until the last minute you may find yourself in trouble. It’s a good idea to start your application process at the beginning of the summer to ensure that you have plenty of time to get all of your documents in order, attend a visa appointment, and to wait for your visa to arrive. The visa process can vary depending on where you’ll be studying, so if you’re not sure what you need to do to get one make sure you talk to someone in charge of your program before the summer begins.

Connect with Other Students in Your Program

Traveling to a foreign country all by yourself can be scary, so if possible you may want to reach out to some of the other students in your program over the summer to get to know them. Even if you’re not in the same area, try connecting on social media so you can at least have a chance to chat. You’ll feel much better as you embark on your study abroad adventure knowing that you’ll see at least one familiar face when you arrive. Plus, it may even ease some of your pre-traveling jitters to be able to talk to someone who is experiencing the same thing.

Make a List of Sites to See        

Once you arrive in your host country and start adjusting to life abroad, you may not have as much time as you’d like to make plans and research things to do. It’s much better to you do your research over the summer while you’re preparing to leave, so that as soon as you can arrive you can start sightseeing. You’ll also be much more likely to make the effort to see certain sights if you write them out on a list ahead of time, as you won’t risk forgetting about an attraction that you really wanted to visit. Whether you use guidebooks, get advice from friends, or just use the internet, it will be much easier to conduct your research before you leave home.

Make a Packing List

Packing to go abroad is a lot different than just packing to go back to school, as you may not necessarily be able to purchase the items that you forgot to bring once you get to your host country. Try making a packing list so that you know how much you’re bringing and to minimize your chance of forgetting to pack essential items—and don’t wait until the last minute, as you’ll almost definitely forget something if you’re packing in a panic. It’s typically a good idea to start packing about a week ahead of time, as this will give you plenty of time to go out and purchase any items that you don’t have and to pare down what you’re bringing to the true essentials. Check off the items on your list as you pack them so you’ll be able to see what still needs to go into your suitcase, and so you can easily check once you’ve finished to make sure that you have everything.

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, but getting to the actual departure takes a lot of work. In between your excitement (or your nervousness), make sure that you’re doing everything necessary to prepare for a semester-long stay abroad. If you use your summer productively, you’ll be more than ready when you board your plane in the fall!

By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a senior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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