Many colleges and universities offering programs where students can study abroad for a semester or even a year of their post-secondary education. Living and going to school in a different country can provide you with a unique opportunity that can result in the time you spend there being the most memorable part of your life, yet you should plan carefully for the period spent in a different country.
Carefully Choose Your Location
Most colleges and universities have programs in place, sometimes in conjunction with other institutions, that will make it easier for you to go to school and study in another country. These programs will help you sign up for classes, find you a place to live, etc. At the same time, however, you should perform your own research about your chosen country to learn about customs, holidays and other important information. Will you feel comfortable living there? Can you speak the language at least a little and are you willing to learn it? Are you willing to experience discomfort for the sake of learning how others live and think? If so, you can have a successful study abroad. Being willing to delve into new experiences and attempting to become comfortable with them goes a long way toward having a successful time abroad. Learning about the culture where you will live will help prevent culture shock and homesickness.
Before you leave, make sure you have all of the right documentation. If you will stay for any length of time in a foreign country, you will need a student visa. Make sure that your passport is up to date too as the expiration date must be at least six months beyond the time you intend to return home. Have a full physical from your doctor and be sure to get any recommended immunizations well before you leave.
Have the right type of clothes. If you will live in a place that has weather that is drastically different from where you live, buy new clothes appropriate for the climate. If you want, supplement with clothes that you purchase there but remember to budget for these purchases before you leave.
When it comes to budgeting and money, the internet makes it easy these days for you to access your American bank account while abroad. Emergencies can and do occur, so make sure you set up a way to transfer money from the U.S. if needed. Note that even though you can easily access your American bank account, you’ll pay an international exchange fee for every transaction Similarly, the internet also makes it easier to communicate with family and friends back home, even visually, with services such as Skype and Messenger. At the same time, you’ll want to be able to use your mobile phone in a different country. Purchase a SIM card when you arrive, or if you prefer, you can buy a basic mobile phone to communicate with students and friends that you make while living in another country. Make sure that family members have emergency phone numbers for you and for the institution you will attend. Remember to pack the proper converters for all of your electronic devices as electrical plugs will be different in other countries.
An Opportunity of a Lifetime
Going with an open mind is important. By doing so, you’ll open yourself up to experiences that you would never have had you remained at home. View your experience abroad as a time to grow in confidence and expand your horizons. The weeks and months you spend outside of the United States could end up being the best time of your life.