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photos of study abroad
photos of study abroad
Elizabeth Berry
Life > Experiences

Preparing to study abroad? Here are some tips.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at App State chapter.

Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine, so when I got an email this past Fall about a trip that would give me credit toward my major, I jumped at the opportunity. I had four weeks until I left to travel to the Czech Republic and Poland, and I was starting to get excited. I made a lot of preparations in order to prepare myself for the experience and brushed up on some of Her Campus App State Alumni Lexi Handler’s articles about her preparations and experiences. Here are some of my own!

  1. An essential part of traveling abroad, you need a passport. 

One of the first things I did when finding out I would be studying abroad was to get all my information together to apply for a passport. I got it expedited even though I still had four months before my trip because I am a nervous person. It came at the perfect time, and I was satisfied until I noticed my place of birth was wrong on the passport. This caused me to send back my passport for it to be fixed. Thankfully, it only took a few weeks for it to be adjusted and I got it in plenty of time before my trip. 

  1. Clothes and Luggage, the fine line between overpacking and not having what you need. 

Perpetually, I am an over-packer. My dad lives in New York, and I visit him often. I will go for a week, bring an entire checked luggage-sized suitcase, and not wear half of the stuff. It was hard to imagine packing for the trip when it was farther away. I remember stressing myself out back in December, simply because I didn’t know where I’d do laundry or if I’d be able to purchase toiletries. After getting answers to those questions, it eased the anxiety. 

Every trip abroad will be different, but I will be doing a lot of train travel for my trip. While traveling on the trains, I’ll have to be able to lift my luggage and store it above me; therefore, that eliminates checked luggage and the possibility of overpacking with it. Also, I will have access to laundry in every city I visit, minus the first since it would be unnecessary. This also eliminates the need to overpack since I can wash my clothes. Traveling has been the top thing on my mind, and the algorithm on my social media supports it. I started getting ads for backpacks that open up like suitcases. I decided to invest in one of those for the trip, along with a standard hard-shell carry-on suitcase. 

On my trip, I will visit old churches, synagogues, Jewish memorials, and Auschwitz and Birkenau. Due to the nature of some of the places I am seeing, I need to dress more modestly than I would attending class on campus. In many areas in Europe, locals dress slightly nicer than Americans. It isn’t typical for them to wear t-shirts, athletic shorts, or leggings daily. These few reasons caused me to get a few new pieces of clothing for my trip. I focused on getting clothing I knew would be appropriate for the trip, but could also wear back home in Boone. I also looked for clothes I could mix and match with each other to create more outfits. 

  1. Reminding yourself that, in this situation, you are the tourist. 

While this statement may not seem important, in a country you are unfamiliar with; it is very important. Do research on where you are visiting. While planning sightseeing and food spots is super fun, remember safety is essential. While every country is different, there are things to be aware of while traveling. For example, it is common in European countries for tourists to get pick-pocketed in heavily populated areas. If you are in a group studying abroad, it will be evident that you are a group of American tourists. Additionally, there has been an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine- personally, this took one stop off my trip since Poland borders Ukraine and Belarus. 

It is also crucial to familiarize yourself with the language, or at least important phrases, to help you in a moment of need. In my pre-trip meetings, we have been practicing speaking Polish. My professor also gives us a card in every city with the address of the place where we are staying, saying, “Can you please take me here.” You must be prepared to be safe when you are unaware of your situation.

Ellie Jensen

App State '24

Hello! I'm El Jensen. I am a senior at Appalachian State University majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Global Studies. I am serving as Co-Campus Coordinator for App State's Her Campus chapter this semester. I love listening to podcasts, reading, and traveling. When I'm not in school or working, I love hanging out with my friends and family. My career goals include working for the United Nations or working a job in crisis communication.