Studying abroad is one of the most exciting things you can do to further your education. Learning about a subject you enjoy from the unique perspective of a different culture can be life-changing. The key to enjoying the experience as much as possible is being prepared beforehand and knowing what to expect. In the months and days leading up to your study abroad experience, make sure you ask your advisor these key questions.
How Do I Prepare?
Before your departure date, you should work hard to prepare for your study abroad experience. The type of preparation you’ll need will largely depend on where you’re going, so make sure you sit down and have a candid talk with your study abroad advisor. Here are a few things he or she may suggest:
- Learn as much as you can about the country you’ll be visiting, including cultural norms, food options, offensive actions or remarks to avoid and basic phrases you should know in the native language.
- Give yourself plenty of time to apply for your passport and, if necessary, a visa.
- Register with the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy before you arrive in the new country.
- Check the website of the program you’ll be attending for any additional information about studying abroad, finding accommodations, etc.
You should also check for public announcements and travel warnings before stepping on the plane. These announcements provide breaking information about potential traveling risks. If a short-term travel risk arises when you’re supposed to leave, delay your departure, if possible.
How Much Will the Program Cost?
It’s no secret that studying abroad can be expensive, but there are a variety of factors – including what school and country you’ll be studying in – that help determine the final price you’ll pay. If you don’t have a lot of financial flexibility, there are things you can do to make your study abroad experience more affordable, such as applying for financial aid and/or scholarships, setting up alerts for cheap flight prices and intentionally looking for affordable programs in inexpensive areas.
How Can I Immerse Myself in the Culture?
Stepping into a different culture can be a little like stepping onto another planet. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the newness of it all, but there are things you can do to make sure you’re getting the best out of your experience. Ask your advisor to give you pointers on how to have the most meaningful, immersive experience.
Are There Safety Concerns?
For your own safety, it’s imperative to ask your advisor what safety concerns you should be aware of when traveling to a foreign country. Some countries are generally more dangerous than others, and some have a friendlier view of American students and tourists.
It’s a good idea to check the U.S. State Department’s website and see if there are any area-specific travel warnings. Your advisor should be able to give you sound advice for staying as safe as possible, no matter where you choose to study abroad.
What Regrets Have Other Students Had?
You want to leave your study abroad experience with great memories and newfound knowledge, not regrets. It’s easy to miss out on things when you’re feeling timid and out of your element, so discuss your concerns with your advisor. Ask him or her to list regrets other students have reported about their study abroad experiences, then do what you can to avoid coming home with those same regrets.
Can Credits Be Transferred?
Not all study abroad credits can be transferred to the school or program of your choice, so talk with your advisor to determine which credits will transfer to fulfill some of your elective or major requirements. The answer to this question may determine which study abroad program you choose, so make sure you ask it early in the planning phase.
What Should I Pack?
You should do your own research to find out what kinds of things to pack for your study abroad trip, but your advisor can give you some suggestions as well. Make sure you understand what the climate will be like when you go so you pack appropriate clothing that will keep you comfortable during your stay. You should also consider bringing power converters, comfortable shoes you can walk around in and toiletries for the first few days. You can restock your toiletries once you’re settled in.
While there are a lot of things to figure out in advance, once you nail down the right study abroad program, you’re in for an incredibly enriching experience. Contact International Business Seminars for more information about the programs we offer.