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Things to Think About Before Studying Abroad

Dear Study Abroad Friends:

Hello and welcome to preparing for a cross-cultural experience that is certain to alter your perceptions on life, food preferences and willingness to be independent. Since I have started college, it has become obvious to me that everyone has different levels of reaching out of their comfort zone, so be aware of yours. Have the humility to admit that studying in a different culture and time zone frightens you. But, know that you are a capable, strong and beautiful person who can achieve anything you desire. Some of my friends are willing to immerse themselves in a completely foreign language and stay at a university with a foreign roommate for a whole year. Other people are utterly terrified at the prospect of being vulnerable in a new cultural environment. Know yourself and choose a study abroad option that will make you feel excited and happy!

Picking a Location

Most colleges have study abroad connections across the globe. Take the time to read through the different countries, universities or host family opportunities. Research the climate expectations, time zone differences, language and food options. By doing so, you will become better equipped to select a destination that is right for you.

Time of Year

Realize that the summer seasons in the U.S. are different from other countries. Pick a time of the year that aligns with your weather preferences, if at all possible. Also, think about what works best with your schedule at college. Your academic advisor should be able to help you select a semester that would be the best time for you to study abroad. You can also go abroad over summer or winter breaks. This will depend on the classes you intend to take abroad, if it is a faculty-led trip or when it suits your college schedule to go.

Advice from Others Who Have Studied Abroad

I can guarantee that there are many students who have studied abroad at your college. Take the the time to discuss their trips with them! They will be an excellent source of information for you and they are more likely going to reveal the positives and negatives. You will learn a lot from them, and I’m sure that they will be delighted to tell you their stories. Listen, take mental notes and just enjoy hearing about their cross-cultural experience.

Expenses

Depending on your college’s program, you may need to pay for housing, food, laundry, plane tickets, etc. Be ready to start saving for your trip. Talk to the study abroad advisors and get their help creating a budget plan for you. Always save more than needed as opposed to not enough. If you do not have one already, you will need to purchase a passport. You can go to your local library and have them help you make one. If you’re planning to travel to other countries while you are abroad, set aside money for traveling expenses. Start saving now; you’ll be so happy that you did.

What to Pack

Whether you’re packing for a week or an entire year, there are things that you will want to take along. Take a memory keepsake from home, maybe a picture, a beloved stuffed animal or a favorite book. I would recommend taking a journal. You can write down your study abroad adventures. This will be something that you’ll look back on years later. Who knows what you’ll do or see while you’re away! Also, leave room for souvenirs, you’re bound to bring home one or two.

I hope that you study abroad somewhere that leads you to boundless excitement and opportunities. Wishing you all the safest of travels and happy memories!

XXXX. Brianna

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