7 Things to Do Before You Study Abroad

Studying abroad is an amazing experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. It’s a great opportunity that everyone should try to take advantage of if they can figure out the finances.

I’m not going to give you a whole list of reasons as to why you should study abroad. Instead, here’s a list of things to do between the time you decide to study abroad and the actual trip. When you decide to study abroad, there is a lot of planning you will need to take care of in order to make your trip one you’ll never forget — for all the right reasons.

1. Call the bank

Going from your college town to a foreign country will be considered a suspicious activity and they may put a hold on your account! Call your bank or card provider and let them know in advance of your plans to travel so you can get by smooth sailing.

2. Call the phone company

Depending on where you’re going, it won’t matter how great the WiFi is because it’s probably not going to be nearly as good as the Wifi you’re used to in America. Your phone won’t work wherever you're going without insane roaming fees, so you’re going to need to either unlock your phone, get an international plan through your phone company, or get a new phone once you're there. When you get that perfect photo-op in front of the Eiffel Tower and get to post to Instagram, you’ll thank me later.

3. Make copies

Make copies of your ID, make copies of your passport, make copies of basically every legal document that you may need. You’ll want to keep the original copies locked up somewhere safe and use the copies when you’re roaming the streets. This way, if you get robbed, you still have a way to get back to America.

4. Get an adaptor/converter

Most countries or regions have their own type of electrical outlet. You will need an adaptor to use your cords on these outlets. You may also need a converter, because some American appliances run on 110 volts, while some European appliances are 220 volts. Most modern products are dual voltage but always double check!

5. Learn a little bit of the language

Don’t worry – you don’t have to be fluent. A few words will go a long way! Crack open a book or download “Duolingo” to your phone. The app is super easy to use and is categorized by subject, such as “basic food,” “greetings,” etc.! It’ll be hard getting by in places besides hotels and tourist destinations without knowing some essential phrases, so learn them!

6. Research the culture

Cultures are different and the last thing you want to do is to offend someone just because you didn’t do your research. In some countries, including Greece, it’s rude to give ‘a thumbs’ up because it’s equivalent to giving the finger. The same goes for peace signs in the U.K. and Australia. Research where you’re going and learn the do’s and don’ts that Americans often get wrong.

7. Research the fashion

Those Nike shorts you spot every day to class won’t fly in Italy. Or France. Or probably anywhere in Europe. You don’t have to buy a new wardrobe just for your trip, but you’re going to need to pack accordingly.

Fashion is different in every country. If your clothes stand out as blatantly American,

Not only will your American wardrobe make you stick out as a tourist, but it can be considered offensive. Going to the Vatican in a tank top, and short shorts, is a major No-No. This applies to every other holy-place in Italy, as visitors have to dress very conservatively (shoulders covered) in order to be allowed in. This can be curbed easily by wearing a scarf or cardigan.

Above all, when you get there, don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember you’re there to take classes but also take pictures every chance you get. It may be the only time you will ever get to be there, so make the most of it, and have a great time!