When the excitement of leaving the country takes over your mind, it may be hard to think of ways to prepare for studying abroad. Have no fear, I am here to help. I am going to show you what is going through my head as I prepare to leave for my month in Madrid. Here are some ways to prepare for studying abroad that will make the time before your trip stress-free!
One of the first ways to prepare for studying abroad is to really think about where you’re going and why you’re going there. For example, if you’re a Media major and Spanish minor, like me, it would benefit you to go to a country where you can practice skills like communication and language. Or if you are majoring in something like fashion, it may help you more to go to a fashion capital like Milan.
The second step to planning a study abroad trip is to think about how long you want to study abroad for. Most schools offer semester-long and summer classes. Summer classes are more intense, meanwhile semester-long classes are paced better and more relaxed. It all depends on what you think you can handle (and what you can afford).
3. Find a Buddy
Personally, I think it’s easier to plan ahead when you have someone else to plan with, so I think this step is important early on in your trip planning. If you find a friend, you can book flights together, plan weekend trips to other cities, etc. Especially if you’ve never been to where you’re going before, it might help to find someone to tag along with.
4. Book Flights Early
No matter where you are going it really is best to book flights early. Not only will flights get filled up (especially if you’re going during the summer), but if you’re going to Europe, the Euro tends to fluctuate frequently and you never know how high the rate will be later on. For international flights, I suggest statravel.com because they have really great student rates, and flying within Europe, I’ve heard that ryanair.com is convenient and inexpensive as well!
5. Learn the Language and Culture
If you’re going to a country where English is not the main language spoken, I would suggest brushing up on their native language, even if it’s just the basic "Hello," "Good Morning," "Where’s the bathroom?" and such. Everything else you will probably pick up as you go along with your trip, but it is also good to research the main tourist attractions, the food, and the methods of transportation, so that you aren’t completely lost when you get there!
6. Save Money
It’s always best to assume that the cost of living of where you’re going is higher than where you live right now, andeven if it isn’t, it will help you save money. From talking to friends that studied in Europe for a semester, they roughly spent about $800-1000 a month (transportation, food, books for school, a little shopping). Knowing this, it’s good to start saving as soon as you can so that you can bring as much money with you as possible.
7. Pack Light
Packing light is probably the best thing you can do when traveling abroad. Though if you’re anything like me, it might be the hardest thing; chances are you will benefit from it while you’re on your trip. You don’t want to be lugging around a heavy suitcase in the airport, much less in a city you might not be familiar with. The airlines are also getting a lot stricter with weight restrictions, so you don’t want to have to worry about paying extra either. You may also want to leave room for the shopping you might do while you’re away.
While all of these ways to prepare for studying abroad are important, the most important is to have fun! I’m super excited to be leaving for Madrid in a few weeks and I hope my tips have helped those of you who are going away as well. What have your study abroad experiences been like?