As college students, many of us get a once in a lifetime chance to do something our parents (constantly) remind us they never got to do: study abroad. Whether you’re going to soak up the history and adorable accents in England or going to absorb a completely different culture somewhere like China, each trip abroad has its own unique experiences that will stick with you for a lifetime. Before you go make yourself a citizen of the world, however, there are a few things you should take into account and remember.
First, make sure you have some. That might come in handy while you’re abroad. But don’t forget that currency differs depending on where you go. So make sure you know what type of currency that country uses, know the exchange rate, and when you get there, go withdraw some money from an ATM in their currency.
Be careful with only a credit/debit card, because many places in Europe don’t take a credit card without the chip-and-PIN technology –make sure yours is compatible!
Lastly about the money –this is pretty important –make sure you call your bank to let them know you’ll be out of the country. If you don’t, they’ll shut your card off and you’ll be broke in a foreign country. That is NOT the unique experience you want to have!
This one should be self-explanatory, but just in case, you need a passport. You will not be able to go anywhere outside the country without one! DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT OR LICENSE. You will need both in order to get through customs.
While you’re abroad, make sure you keep them in a safe, hidden place so you don’t lose it. Without them, you won’t be able to get back into the U.S. If you only take away one thing from this list –make sure it’s this!
Many study abroad programs will have a group flight option. However, if you’re flying on your own, make sure you get the best deal possible! Do some extensive investigating (aka Google it extensively) about where you can get the best deals on good flights. Go to websites like Kayak and Adioso to look for deals. Make sure you go to more than one site!
One important thing to remember is to check what the bag check/carry-on rules are for the airports you intend to fly out of, and pack according to those rules as well as for how long you intend to stay. Don’t forget to leave room for souvenirs! (Your mother will never forgive you if you don’t get her something!)
Other countries have different outlets than the U.S., so make sure to pack adaptors and check voltages so you can charge your phone, laptops, iPad, etc. while you’re there. And don’t forget to call your cell phone provider and switch to a global plan. C’est très important!
It’s also a good idea to pack an extra pair of clothes in your carry-on, so you can change when you land!
5. Having an experience worth remembering
When you travel, be present. Be with your friends. If you’re studying abroad, be with the other students on the program –they will become your family during your trip. Meet new people. Absorb their culture. Have experiences. Be safe. And just… be there. As tempting as it is to blow up your Instagram with amazing pictures of the amazing places you’re going, don’t forget to put the camera down and take it all in.
Traveling can get overwhelming, but if you follow these steps to prepare yourself, you will have the trip of a lifetime. Guaranteed. Safe travels, collegiettes!