A Guide for Last-Minute Study Abroad Preparations

By Debora Aberastury on July 19, 2018

August is coming, and it is time to do a few last-minute study abroad preparations before you step into that airport. Anxiety and excitement is likely keeping you up at night, but don’t fret. This guide will help ease your worries and prepare you – because you are likely mostly ready to go by now – to head abroad this fall:


Make sure housing and financial aid is all in order

Contact whoever will be providing your housing, and whoever oversees your financial aid to make sure that everything is in order. While most programs are on top of things and will contact you if anything is missing in your paperwork, it doesn’t hurt to shoot them an email if you’re not sure if everything is well – or if you haven’t received any confirmation letters from them yet.

Take advantage of the back-to-school savings

Just because you will be heading abroad doesn’t mean that you’re not going back to school. No matter where you are headed to, school supplies are almost always either more expensive or harder to get ahold of.

Buy the minimum of what you need – think a notebook or two, some pens, a backpack, post-its, flashcards and highlighters. I would stay away from buying folders or binders, unless you fully are aware of what page size the country you are going to uses. Many European countries use A4 pages, rendering letter size folders and binders useless.

Start putting your clothes together

You may not have to pack for another couple of weeks but do find a place in your house where you can start putting together the clothes you will be taking along with you. What you take depends highly on where you are going – but more likely than not you’ll experience some sort of cold between October and December. Start digging through your closet for sweaters and jeans you plan to wear, as well as heavier jackets, scarves, etc.

The clothes you will take for warmer weather is likely what you are wearing nowadays, so that can wait until it is closer to departure day. If you are headed to somewhere where it is hot all year round, you may likely just wait to put your clothes together until almost the last minute.



And put together your gear

Think adapters, universal hair dryers, extra charger cables, a reusable toiletry set. Whatever is not clothing related and that you are not currently using, do put it alongside your clothes as well. Believe it or not, you’ll be more stressed out the closer it is to your departure day, so it is wise to start putting things together while your mind is still calm.

Research, research, research

If you have the time between now and your departure day, start making a study abroad bucket list. Research places that you want to go in your host country and city, as well as places you hope to travel to during your weekends and break. Once you get there, you will likely not have the time to research places to go – so take advantage of the time now. Grab your laptop, head to the pool, and start a new Word document with a list of places that you for sure want to check out during your time abroad.

Put together addresses for postcards

If you already know who you want to send postcards to while you’re abroad, now is the time to start putting together addresses. Get a small notebook to write them in or start another Word document and get them all down. It’ll make it easier when the time comes to send postcards. You won’t be frantically looking through emails or messages to find so-and-so’s address or waiting until they reply back to send them something.



Make a go-to binder for your family

I’ve studied abroad three times, and each time I’ve put together a binder. It has always included copies of EVERYTHING – including my ticket confirmation, emails from my school, my travel insurance information, my eye contacts prescription and a copy of my passport. I also always included a page with emergency information, such as phone numbers and emails to staff at my school and to the local U.S. Embassy.

Is it overkill? Probably. But it is better to be safe than sorry.

Emergencies can happen where your family needs a way to contact you if they can’t contact you the normal way. There is also always that chance that you lose something – may it be your passport, insurance information or prescription for eye contacts/glasses. While you can always make digital copies as well, having someone back home with paper copies of everything can be a godsend.

Once you finish your last-minute study abroad preparations, make sure to book some quality time with friends and family before you leave, put your feet up, and enjoy your summer! Don’t fret too terribly much about your upcoming time abroad. Whatever happens happens, and it will be an adventure of a lifetime.

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