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Studying Abroad: Preparation and Tips

When thinking of studying abroad, the main commitment considered is the time that will be spent at the specific location. However, going to a different country and taking academic courses requires much more work. There is time commitment and planning required well before the expected trip date. Jessica Weaver, a sophomore History major here at UT, experienced this when she applied to study Jewish history abroad in Prague this semester.
“Studying abroad turned out to be a lot more work than I thought it would be. I realized I had a lot of responsibilities and had a lot of preparing to do,” she explains.

In order to help the Collegiettes looking to study abroad, we’ve provided some examples of the pre-travelling responsibilities involved with studying abroad:
1)     Plan to finance the trip: Financial aid is provided under some circumstances for studying abroad, so it’s helpful to look into the financial aid provided specific to the trip and plan ahead for applying. If you already receive financial aid, this is already done for study abroad here at UT. You can also apply for many different scholarships tailored to studying abroad.
2)     Setting up a means of obtaining money abroad: If you plan on using your credit card overseas, it is necessary to contact your bank and credit card companies to authorize being able to charge in a different country. Some international fees can apply when charging.
3)     Shots/Vaccines: Getting required immunizations is another responsibility if you plan on studying abroad. Requirements vary with your specific program. The meningitis vaccine is required for everyone at UT who plans on studying abroad. Most people already have this shot, however, considering it’s required for those who live on campus.
4)     Meetings the semester before: Jessica has pre-departure meetings, two thus far, and one more in two weeks. During these meetings, they fill out paper work regarding emergency contacts, passports information, etc. These papers cover general information for travelling for those who have not traveled before. In these meetings, they discuss cultural aspects necessary to know for the country to which you are travelling. “We also practiced learning basic information about the language in the meetings,” Weaver explains.
5)     Class the semester before: Maymester programs at UT require a one hour class to be taken the semester before travelling by those who plan on studying abroad. The class offers background information for the course you are taking abroad. “Going into the maymester class not knowing much about Jewish history, I now feel prepared to focus on, and study the Jewish experience before and after the holocaust in Prague,” Jessica adds.
6)     Travel insurance: UT offers an optional, but highly recommended International Student ID card, which offers student discounts when travelling. It is a form of travel insurance that covers problems like lost baggage and delayed flight. 
Studying abroad is a life-changing experience that not only allows you to move out of your comfort zone and experience new cultures, it also teaches you the importance of being responsible. Being college students who haven’t really had to fully venture into the real world completely on our own, studying abroad gives the opportunity for us to manage and balance our own commitments.

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