Planning Your Study Abroad Trip

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  • Traveling to a foreign country is always an exciting experience. You’re getting the chance to experience so many new things. And the experience also provides a fair amount of perspective for the ways other countries work.

    Before you step onto the plane and embrace the culture, you need to take care of a couple of things. In the months leading up to your trip, you’ll have to do lots of prep work — and many of these things cannot not be put off until the last minute, so don’t procrastinate!

    • Research Ahead of Time
      Unlike research for term papers, looking up information for your study abroad trip can be pretty interesting. Take the time to brush up on information about the country you’re visiting. For example, read about the country’s history and keep an eye out for any big locations that you’d like to visit. While the tourist attractions are popular for a reason, there are plenty of less-crowded places you can go where you’ll experience the country without the crowds. Additionally, keeping track of current events surrounding the country is a good way to be ready for your visit.
    • Have The Necessary Documents
      Your trip is going to end really fast if you don’t have the proper documentation to leave the country. Important documents include passports, which prove your citizenship, and visas, which give you permission to enter the foreign country. Six months before your trip, make sure your paperwork is up to date. If not, complete it as soon as possible. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to invest in international health insurance — it’s always better go be safe than sorry.
    • Set Aside Enough Money
      This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s important to check out your finances before taking your trip. Make a budget for your trip and figure out how much you want to spend on activities, housing, food and even souvenirs. If you spend all your money on the plane tickets, you’re not going to be able to fully enjoy your trip, so set aside enough to do all the things you want to do.
    • Familiarize Yourself With the Language
      While English is a popular language in most foreign countries, it’s always good to know important phrases in the native language. You don’t necessarily have to be fluent in the language, but having a good grasp of the language can make your trip a bit more enjoyable. You’ll learn a bunch of phrases by the end of your trip, but knowing key phrases going in will be to your benefit.
    • Check Out Your School Information
      If you’re traveling through your school’s program, it’s important to read through the information provided. In addition to price information and advisors who can help you, the school websites often provides student stories from people who have previously studied in foreign countries. Taking a look at what other people did on their trips can help you figure out the kind of things you want to experience on your own.

    Everyone should get the chance to travel to another country at some point in his or her life. You get the chance to experience another culture first-hand, and it’s pretty eye opening to see how things go in different countries. However, when you’re planning your trip, it’s important to take everything into consideration. It often takes months to completely plan your trip, but the work will be well worth it when you finally step off the plane and get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    After spending the best three and a half years of her life at Penn State, Sarah Landrum couldn’t tear herself away from the appeal of college. A couple weeks after graduation she founded Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals navigate college and the work world. Follow Sarah for more advice @SarahLandrum

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