Study Abroad Checklist: Everything You Need to Do to Prepare

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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.

how to prepare for study abroad

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


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.

how to prepare for study abroad

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


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.

how to prepare for study abroad

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


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?

how to prepare for study abroad

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


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?

how to prepare for study abroad

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


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.

how to prepare for study abroad

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!



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