Au revoir! Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go. The flight is booked and you are headed on a study abroad program next term. Now what? Simply deciding where to study abroad can take some serious soul-searching, but no matter where you are headed next term, our study abroad tips will help make sure you have the experience of a lifetime.
Venture a bit further afield with Cabeau and let us be your ultimate guide. Explore these 10 study abroad tips, sure to help you get the most out of your education overseas, then grab your Evolution® travel pillow and prepare for the experience of a lifetime!
Have Your Essentials Ready
One of our first study abroad tips –– and probably the most important one –– is to make sure your paperwork is set and organized before departure. First on the list: a passport. If you already have one, great! But make sure the expiry date meets the requirements of your host country. Nobody wants to be stuck at customs with a document that isn’t valid, which could jeopardize your entire trip.
Do your research and make sure you aren’t missing something important before you go. Create a checklist and use our study abroad tips as a starting point. Ask your study abroad support team to provide you with a list of must-haves before departure.
Get Reliable Travel Insurance
In the digital age, almost anyone can sell travel insurance. A quick Google search will turn up multiple ‘cheap’ options for travel insurance, but buyer-beware! Even though a deal might seem like a great economical choice, many of those cheaper options include exclusions or accessibility issues that can end up being a huge headache for you during your travels.
One of our next study abroad tips is to shop around for solid and reputable travel insurance. Before you buy, ask for a sample copy of the plan. Then, look for any exclusions that could be an issue for you (some plans won’t cover accidents that occur during risky sporting activities, for example). Does the plan cover emergency medical care to suit your needs? It’s worth consulting others who have travelled on your study abroad program to see if they have any personal recommendations.
Consult a Travel Doctor
Once you have decided where to study abroad, a travel doctor may be able to help you decide what additional vaccinations are necessary before your trip. Remember, some vaccinations require multiple doses so it’s best to consult your travel doctor early on.
If you are venturing into tropical climates or locales considered a bit more ‘risky’ healthwise, a quick visit to a travel doctor about six months before your departure can set your mind at ease. Only a travel doctor is a complete expert on what health risks might exist. One of our best study abroad tips: it’s better to be prepared –– just in case!
Your consultation might include a list of food or drinks to avoid as a preventative health measure. Asking your travel doctor to advise you on what medications you may need to have on hand while travelling is also a good idea for your own convenience.
Any worthwhile experience has risks, and travel is no exception. If you are new to travel, one of our best study abroad tips is to simply make yourself aware. We recommend that you inform yourself of any consular warnings before your trip. Some travel warnings may include tourist scams, civil unrest or natural disasters, for example.
Learn the Language
Thinking about where to study abroad might include considering the ease of getting around in a country that shares a common language vs. the adventure that comes from navigating a country with a completely foreign one.
If you are headed to France but don’t know a single word in French, make an attempt to learn a few phrases before you go. Spending your summer taking a French course would be a great way to prepare for your adventure and also gather study abroad tips from others who may have personal experience in your host country.
Our own travel experience has taught us that locals are much more receptive to a tourist who makes a valid attempt at conversation or greeting in the local lingo.
Now that you have everything checked and double-checked on your study abroad tips list, copy all of it and label it. Then, place it in a sealed envelope and have a designated friend or close family member keep your document copies safe. Some things to consider keeping copies of: passport, study visas, travel insurance, flight details, passwords, offer of enrollment, etc.
Be Ready to Make Friends!
You may or may not be travelling with friends from home, but either way, be sure to make friends in your host country. Arranging a quick city tour shortly after your arrival is a great starting point. Use the tour to gather some first-hand study abroad tips for your particular destination that you may not have found otherwise.
And one more thing – don’t stick too close to familiar friends who may be tagging along. Make sure to visit local attractions solo or try venturing on foot and visiting local establishments on your own. No matter where you decide to study abroad, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone will allow you to get something different from your experience. No study abroad tips sheet will prepare you for the relationships you are sure to build if you put yourself out there and meet new people.
Plan to Explore on Days Off
Part of your reason for going abroad is to see new places and meet new friends, so don’t stay in one place too long! Take advantage of every free moment after class or on the weekends to explore even more.
Before you go, arrange some side trips during your stay. It’s much more economical to book a flight and hotel stay in a neighboring country ahead of time. Some study abroad destinations have dozens of neighboring countries within a short distance of them. Explore on the weekend by budget flight, train or bus. Take it from us: one of our best study abroad tips is to do some research ahead of time and see which destinations are within your reach. You may not get the chance to see them again, so take advantage of your temporary geographical location.
Be Ready to Try Something New
Once you have decided where to study abroad – many new adventures await. You are sure to miss the comforts of home, but be open-minded on your travels. Do a bit of reading ahead or time and explore some of your host country’s special treats and local events.
Branch out a little and ask a new friend to introduce you to some of the local cuisine. Or perhaps your host country is known for its opera, architecture or special festivals and holidays. Make sure to explore your surroundings completely. One of our most important study abroad tips: don’t waste time seeking out the things you can easily find back home
Keep a Journal or Start a Blog
Document all of your travels in a personal notebook or blog. The “future you” will be thankful as you pour over past experiences and remember your adventure every step of the way. Find a special way to store or print photos of your journey. A photobook is a great way to showcase your adventures for family and friends back home.
During this once-in-a-lifetime process, expect to plan a bit more than normal. Finding travel insurance, booking the best flight and making sure all of your paperwork is in order can be exhausting, so make sure you take care of yourself. Use our study abroad tips as a starting point, but make sure to relax in between planning sessions. Don’t forget to browse our comfort items and travel pillows to ensure you arrive rested and ready to get the most out of your adventure!