Studying abroad is one of those life-changing events that young students can experience when coming into their adult years. There’s no experience like seeing the world in an educational capacity; especially when so many countries around the world take special precautions to accommodate international students that are guests in their countries.
Such a trip, of course, cannot be made without extensive preparation; after all, you’ll be there for a year or so! Everything from making sure you can access the internet in your host country right away though a compatible mobile hotspot device to getting all the government papers in order for a smooth and seamless trip.
Preparation is Key
Well before you get on the plane, you should have your passport and government papers ready. Some countries require that the expiration date be no sooner than six months just in case there are issues that require you to be detained (for whatever reason). This includes having your visa and flight itinerary from your home university’s finance department.
Next, make copies of all your documents – these include your passport, visa, credit cards (both sides), personal ID cards, your flight itinerary and any medicinal prescriptions you may have. Check the airline you’ll be flying on for updates and print these too. While you’re at it, keep abreast of any luggage restrictions. Give a few copies of these things out to family members and maybe even an extremely trustworthy friend or two.
Iron Out the Legal Issues
To avoid legal issues in the first place, make sure you register with the US State Department before you travel abroad. If you vote, now is the time to secure info regarding an absentee ballot and figure out payment of your taxes – assuming the latter applies to you. One thing that some students overlook is the necessity of filling out a Power of Attorney form to facilitate the solution of related problems if they arise.
What About Insurance?
If you have any useful insurance policy for students traveling abroad (or just general insurance for anyone), then now is the time to figure out what to do about how your coverage is affected by being in another country. This is especially true for private insurance, as their complex actuarial equations may have deemed that the country you’re traveling to increases risk.
If you judge it wisely, consider getting traveler’s insurance to pick up any slack, as well as personal liability coverage after confirming your status as a full-time student.
Have all of your OTC medicine as well as prescriptions in a grab bag well before the trip. The last thing you want is a last-minute foray that leaves you unable to fill a prescription; who knows what the wait times or availability for that particular drug is in another country? You should obviously have enough to last you well into your study abroad period in case it takes months to get a refill.
You may also require vaccinations for the countries you’re visiting; for example, if it’s a place with mosquitoes you could regret not getting a malaria shot, or procuring malaria pills. While you’re making the health check-up rounds, see your dentist, optometrist and primary physician for a full physical.
Money and Local Currency
You’ll need to make sure all of your ATM and bank cards will work when you leave the country, as well as associated fees for using the card abroad. Find out what resources you can use once you arrive, in case you lose you cards or run into any technical problems (forgotten PIN number, etc).
Of course, you should know all about the local currency before you leave, as well as conversion rates and policies. It’s nice to have a budget on expenditures before you leave, so you know how much US money to bring to the exchange terminal at the airport. With the widespread use of the internet, handling money is easier than ever before, so have this resource secured before you depart.
This is just a short checklist of things to do before going abroad; make sure you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s months and weeks in advance, so that it can be an exciting, worry-free trip.
Thank you for sharing! I studied abroad in Australia and you are right when you say preparation is key. It really helped me to read about other people’s experiences to calm my nerves.