Study Abroad Checklist: Everything You Need to Do to Prepare
Posted by April 21, 2016in Study Abroadon
Studying abroad is an amazing experience, but getting ready for the big trip can be hectic and overwhelming. To ensure you don't forget anything and have a smooth transition to your new host country, it is best to make a checklist to keep yourself on track for your departure.
6 Months before Departure: Prepare for Travel
The first thing to consider once you are signed up for your study abroad program is how you're going to get there. Most likely, that will involve international flights and passports.
Getting a passport can take months if you don't have one already, so start by gathering the proper documentation, getting your passport photo, applying for your passport (and visa if you need one), and booking your flights.
✔ Apply for passport
✔ Review travel options
✔ Book flights
- US Passports & International Travel – How to Apply for a Passport
- USA Today – What Papers Do I Need to Get a Passport?
- Money Crashers - How to Find Cheap Flights and Get the Best Airline Ticket Deals
- AirFareWatchDog – Airfare Deals & Money-Saving Tips
- Personal Profitability – The Complete Beginner Guide to Travel Hacking
5 Months before Departure: Get Ready for School
Contrary to the beliefs of some of your classmates, “study" is the most important part of a study abroad trip.
Once you have the basics covered for travel, look into what you will need to prepare for school at a foreign university. Research the language, your class schedule, and housing information at least a few months before you take off.
✔ Review course offerings with academic advisor at home university
✔ Pick classes for semester abroad (or first semester if spending a year abroad)
✔ Look into housing options
- CEA Study Abroad – Credit Transfer & Approval
- StudyAbroad.com – Crossing Cultural and Language Barriers while Studying Abroad
- US News – What Should Students Know About Studying Abroad?
- Go Overseas – How to Deal with Culture Shock While Studying Abroad
- Tokio Marine HCC MIS Group – 6 Tips for Meeting People While Studying Abroad
4 Months before Departure: Organize a Packing List
When going abroad for a semester or year, you will need clothing for changing seasons, dress clothes, casual clothes, outdoor clothes, and school clothes.
With an entire wardrobe to bring across the world in two suitcases, plus sheets and other bedding, it is important to make a list and review what other students wish they had brought along- or wished they had left behind.
✔ Create packing list
✔ Buy anything you need from your list
✔ Consider luggage restrictions and packing organization
- University of Nevada, Reno – How to Pack Your Bags Before You Study Abroad
- Tokio Marine HCC MIS Group – The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List
- Study Abroad Spotlight – The Dos and Don'ts [sic] of Packing for Study Abroad
2 Months before Departure: Plan for Technology Needs
When you land in your host country, will your cell phone still work? What will it cost? Can you plug in your laptop in outlets in your host country, or do you need adapters and converters?
Plan your technology needs and favorite apps ahead of time so you don't end up in a jam when you arrive.
✔ Update cell phone plan or order an unlocked phone that will work in your host country
✔ Purchase power adapters and converters
✔ Download useful apps
- The Study Abroad Blog – The Top 50 iPhone Apps for Studying Abroad
- World Standards – Plug & Socket Types
- StudyAbroad.com – Study Abroad Parent Guide – Cell Phone Tips
1 Month before Departure: Take Care of Logistics for Living Abroad
Does your study abroad school offer health insurance while you are on the program? How will you deal with money and transportation in your new city?
Don't find out the hard way that your bank charges $20 for an international ATM--and don't skimp on student health insurance and get stuck with a multi-thousand-dollar hospital bill. Plan ahead to avoid surprises.
✔ Plan budget and get an understanding of exchange rates
✔ Confirm apartment, dorm, or other accommodations
✔ Purchase a student health insurance policy
✔ Make copies of important documents
✔ Do any last minute packing and shopping
- StudentSecure Insurance – International Student Health Insurance
- NerdWallet – Pack These Useful Money Tips When You Study Abroad
- X-Rates – Exchange Rates & Currency Calculator
On Arrival: Don't Be Afraid to Look for Help
This post is a great place to get started, but there is plenty more to do to prepare ahead of leaving your home country for several months. You may need a student visa, and at some point you will have to grapple with coming back home.
Doing the following upon arrival will set you up for success:
✔ Confirm class schedule
✔ Explore new city
✔ Get to know local transportation
✔ Attend orientation meetings and other program events
✔ Have fun!
- Tokio Marine HCC MIS Group – Timeline for Study Abroad Planning
- Tokio Marine HCC MIS Group – The 15 Best Study Abroad Organizations
- Tokio Marine HCC MIS Group – Best Study Abroad Scholarships and Grants for 2016
- Tokio Marine HCC MIS Group –8 Ways Students Can Stay Safe Abroad
- Study Abroad 360 – An Essential Study Abroad Checklist