Everything You Need to Know About Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is a little bit more than hopping on a plane and living your best life. There is long a process to move through from when you first decide to study abroad until you step onto new soil. Here are some key factors to take into consideration before jetting off to a new country, and some helpful tips once you’re there. 


Before You Go



First and foremost, you are not entering another country without a passport. So, make sure yours is updated and good to go.

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Program options

You will either study abroad through your school, or a third-party program such as AIFS, CIE or CIS. Talk to your study abroad office and evaluate the programs your university offers. If you prefer a different location from the options your school has or a university more compatible with your schedule, look into outside companies. These companies act as the liaison between you and an abroad university, and coordinate payments and vital information with your school’s study abroad office as well.

“Along with my study abroad advisor from my school, I also received an advisor from AIFS who helped me with the application process,” said Rowan University senior Sierra Grmek. “There was also an advisor in the country I was going to.”



Your school and third party providers will have application deadlines, so be sure to stick to those so you don’t miss out on your chance at studying abroad.



While many people think studying abroad comes at an extraordinary cost, that is not always the case. In fact, studying abroad is often cheaper than normal tuition at a four-year college or university. Plus, many programs offer scholarships to study abroad, and it is possible that your scholarship can go toward tuition fees. 

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If you are studying through your school, there will most likely be pre-approved classes from which you can choose. However, if you study through an outside program, the hard work of finding classes is up to you. What you will most likely be doing is finding classes at the abroad university that may be substituted for classes at your home university, and then presenting the classes to department heads for their approval. For example, if you want to take Marine Biology 1 while abroad, and your school offers Introduction to Marine Biology, you will meet with the head of the Biology department, show him or her the class descriptions and then have him or her sign off on the papers.



Your school is going to require you to complete paperwork whether you study through them or another company. If you are studying through another company, be prepared to fill out course approval forms, contact information and financial forms so they can contact your home institution’s bursar. You will also have to complete medical papers and get them signed by your doctor. This may seem like a daunting task, but it is all part of the process of making your study abroad dream a reality.  

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Your third party provider usually comes with insurance, so if something were to happen to you, you are covered. Schools have different policies when it comes to studying abroad, so it is smart to go over that information with your study abroad office so you can feel protected abroad.



While schools and study abroad providers both normally offer to arrange your flight, you can usually opt out and choose a flight and schedule that best accommodates your needs. 



Packing clothes for a few months is not an easy task. Make it less stressful on yourself by bringing things you will only need and wear while away. Pack clothes you can mix and match to optimize your closet while still keeping the load size minimal. Leave heavy, bulky items at home such as shampoo and cleaning supplies. You can purchase anything you may need once you arrive.

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Once You’re There



While you may have stereotypes about the people and culture of your destination country, they will have preconceived ideas about you. It is exciting to learn about the differences in cultures, so always keep an open and absorbent mind.  



Many famous cities such as Paris and Rome may be on their A-game when it comes to speaking English, but not everyone knows it. Be patient and be aware that you may have difficulty communicating with people from foreign lands.

“When you try to genuinely speak another language, it’s impressive and they appreciate your effort,” said customer experience specialist Jonathan Valerio. 

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Culture shock

Culture shock comes when someone enters foreign soil and is taken back by the differences in language, culture, food and more. It may take people a few weeks and even months to warm up to an area, as it affects everyone differently. “People get anxious when they don’t know their surroundings,” explained Hofstra University senior Tammy Karikal. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn about the new culture.”

On the flip side, people are often shocked when they come back home and have to revert to their old lifestyles. They may find it challenging settling back in their old lives, schedules and commitments.


Food and housing

Unlike schools in America, on-campus eating is not as popular of an option in Europe, Australia and beyond. So, be prepared to shop and cook for yourself. Likewise, on-campus housing is not always the main choice for foreign universities. You may be staying on campus, in housing near campus meant for students or you may find yourself shopping for a place to stay on your own.

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Extra Money

Unexpected expenses are bound to come up during your time abroad, so it is smart to keep some funds on the side. Some things you may not originally factor into costs are transportation, medical expenses and Wi-Fi plans.