Tips and Tricks to Know BEFORE going Abroad

With finals season quickly approaching, many students are excited for a new adventure abroad next semester. But before you board that plane to a faraway place, there a few essential things to keep in mind during your preparation for abroad. In order to hit the ground running in your new home, take some time this winter break to get the following things in order:

 

 1. Forms of Identification

Before leaving the country, it is essential to make several copies of all forms of identification. You should ALWAYS have at least a copy of your passport and study visa with you at all times, and it can even be a good idea to carry around a copy of your US driver’s license once you get to your abroad destination. Pro-tip: if you will be using multiple purses/bags while abroad it can be easy to forget to switch your IDs to different places. A quick and easy solution to this likely problem? Put copies of passport, study visas, driver’s license, and any other identification document you that is required by the host country in a compartment in each of these bags.

2. Debit Cards/Credit Cards/$$$

In terms of debit card usage abroad, there are three fees you absolutely need to be aware of: 1) Currency Exchange Rate: the currency used in your host country to Dollar exchange rate (e.g. 1€ = $1.19 currently) that you are automatically charged for when taking out money regardless of your bank/debit card; 2) Foreign Transaction Fee: the rate that banks charge you because you are taking out foreign currency (e.g. most banks will charge 3-5% of the total amount you withdraw); and 3) ATM Use Fee: the fee banks charge for your use of an international ATM. When choosing a debit card that you will use abroad, it is important to look for one that does not charge a foreign transaction fees aside from the standard, daily exchange rate.

3. Other Packing Essentials

While it is important to pack the clothes that you will need during your time abroad, it is also essential that you take the time to think about items you use on a daily basis that you would want to have with you in a different country. To get your creative packing juices flowing here are some essential things to pack that could easily slip your mind in the craziness of preparing to studying abroad:

 

- Umbrella: When it rains, street vendors will harass you to buy sub-par umbrellas that will break within two times of using them. Bringing a small, but sturdy, umbrella that you can put in every bag can save you a lot of aggravation.

 

-Laundry Bag: If you know for sure that your study abroad program will not provide this, a laundry bag is a simple but important thing to bring. They don’t take up a lot of space and this is a basic necessity (especially if you choose to use a Laundromat, to which you’ll need to carry all your laundry and is an easy, probable option in washing your clothes abroad).

 

-Converters/extension cords: This may seem like an obvious item to pack in your bag, but often times people can forget these small but essential electronic accessories. Before jetting off to your new home, look up the type of outlets that are used in your host country to be sure that you are purchasing an adapter/converter/extension cord that will actually work once you arrive at your abroad destination.

 

- Toiletries/prescription medications: If you are particular about your toiletries or a specific hygiene product in general, it's better to be safe than sorry and pack your favorite shampoo or deodorant in your checked bag. However, most places abroad will have American brands or those similar to the ones that you are used to in almost every hygiene product imaginable. However, if you take any type of prescription medicine it is crucial that you bring copies and copies and copies of all medical documentation and prescriptions abroad. In case of an emergency, it is so important to have all of your personal medical documentation easily accessible to ensure that you get the prescriptions or other medicine you need in a timely fashion.

 

-School Supplies: While there is probably a place to buy pens, pencils, notebooks and other school related items abroad, it is also a great idea to pack a few essential school supply items with you to make for an easier transition into the new semester. After all, they don't call it "study" abroad for nothing!

-Guide Books: Last, but certainly not least, a guide book of the place you will soon call home can be an important and informative tool to constantly have with you. In the technological day and age in which we live, it is easy to forget about the power of books! But having a small, travel guide that you can easily put in a day bag can be a lifesaver if you are traveling alone, in a small group or if your lifeline of a cell-phone happens to go dead.