How to Prepare to Study Abroad: Paperwork, Passports, Planning

Studying abroad, like any major trip, requires extensive planning. Maybe even more so because not only are you planning a trip, but you’re planning to go to school, to take excursions, and to make living arrangements for an extended amount of time in a foreign country. 

All of this may seem intimidating, however if you are proactive and begin planning and talking with advisors in advance it’s not so bad. All it takes is a passport, some paperwork, and a whole lot of planning. 

Stop One: Do Your Research

The first step to studying abroad is to get involved. Go to study abroad fairs, talk to advisors, google it! Get any and all information that you can from different study abroad programs, countries, and universities. This is important because it’s crucial that you have the information to make an informed decision before you go anywhere. 

Once you have your information, you can decide which route works best for you and your major. Will you go to Germany or Venezuela? Will you directly enroll in your university or go through a third party program (a program such as ISA or USAC that plans your trip for you)? How long will you go? What classes will you take while there? These are all important questions to ask yourself when planning a trip abroad. 

Step Two: Choose a Program

The next step is to choose a program, a country, and to stick with it. Figure out all the requirements you need for that program. Most universities or third party programs will have specific steps you need to take and paper work that you need to fill out before you leave. This can seem overwhelming, but if you start early and chip away at it over time it makes it a little less stressful. 

It’s also extremely important that you know what kind of things you need to have before you leave the country in general. Some countries require that you have visas while others don’t. All countries require that you have a passport, so if you do plan on leaving you need to have a current passport way before you board the plane. 

Step Three: Packing

You should also be mindful of what you want to pack before you leave. What will the weather be like in your foreign country? Will you need to buy outlet adapters and get a new currency from the bank? What are some things that you can’t live without, and what are others that you can leave behind? Although we all wish that we could take our entire house with us to a new place, it’s impossible so we have to be picky when it comes to what we pack. 

Step Four: Mental Preparation

The most important kind of preparation is mental preparation. Before you leave, you should be mentally prepared for what you are about to experience.

Being away from home for an extended amount of time is no easy task. It’s possible that you may become homesick or culture shocked when you go to a new country. It’s important that you try to prepare yourself for the journey that you are about to have.

Remember that although there may be trials and tribulations, that at the end of your time abroad you will be a stronger, more capable world traveler and person. 

Taylor Hunter will be updating us with her experience studying abroad in Costa Rica this semester! Stay tuned for more articles. Read the first part here.