Five ways to prepare for study abroad trips

Danielle Sons, Reporter

Passport in hand, suitcase packed to the brim and planes passing by overhead.

Preparing to study abroad is an exciting thing, but there are some precautions that should be taken to ensure an enjoyable and successful trip.

Do your research

Make sure that if you are going to a country that speaks a different language, you are familiar with some common phrases or words.

“Before I went I prepared myself for the Spanish aspect of my trip by using the Spanish roundtables and my friends to sharpen my skills,” said junior Spanish and nursing major, Keoni Bills. “This really prepared me for adjusting to an all Spanish country [Spain] and made me more comfortable using it to the fullest extent abroad.”

Being caught unaware of your host country’s customs and rules could cause problems for the rest of the trip. This is why it is important to do some investigating on any practices, rules or conventionalities before completely zipping up your suitcase.

There are more dress code rules than one might think when traveling the world, and it is important to present yourself respectfully and accordingly.

Take care of your paperwork

Do not leave your paperwork for the last minute. It is important to register for a visa or passport 6-8 months in advance before your trip takes place. Check the date of your passport to make sure that it does not expire during your trip, otherwise, you will not be able to come back to the U.S.

Ensure that you are bringing a photo ID of yourself as well as any medical forms or birth certificates to ensure you are properly represented as a citizen of the United States.

Travel light

Being prepared can always invoke stress, especially when studying abroad in a foreign country. When it comes to clothes, it can be hard to figure out what will be needed for the entire trip. What if it rains? What if it gets colder than expected? Is bringing a little bit of clothing for every type of weather a good thing or not?

“I would pack what you think you need then cut it in half. I ended up seriously overpacking, said Allison Bjornstad, a junior microbiology major. “The reality of studying abroad is that everyone is going to be wearing the same three shirts, so you might as well do the same.”

Bring clothing that can be worn in layers. This is always a win-win for your suitcase and functionality while walking around and touring the country you are in.

Document your experiences

Other than documenting with pictures, journaling is a good way to capture memorable moments during your trip.

It is important to live in the moment and make sure you remember your trip as vividly and accurately as possible. Looking back on the memories that are made during an opportunity like this can be valuable in the future.

“I forgot to bring a personal journal to write about my experiences, and I would have liked to have brought one because it would have helped me reflect on my thoughts each day and remember more of what I experienced during my trip,” said sophomore nursing major, Caitlynn Runia.

Reflecting on each day is beneficial because all the memories and emotions associated with that day are still fresh.

Handle any financial or medical details

Communicate with your personal bank and credit card company and let them know you are traveling abroad well in advance to your travels. This will give them a good amount of time to properly make any changes so that you aren’t locked out of your account.

Take out at least $100 in cash to carry around in your wallet. Make sure to convert the money to your host country’s currency if needed before you leave.

Also, make sure that you have saved enough money to sustain yourself while abroad as well. Save up so you can purchase any keepsakes you might want to buy there.

It is also a good idea to make sure you communicate with your insurance company so that any possible accidents or injuries will be covered and paid.