So you’ve decided to take the leap and take a semester or year away from university, studying abroad instead! Whether you’re going through a university program or through one you found yourself, you’re in for a major, life-changing adventure. Here’s how to prepare for this stint abroad:
Your school will most likely help you with this step, but it’s smart to know the in’s and out’s of the visa requirements for the country you’ll be staying. Make sure your study abroad program can grant you a student visa for the time you’ll be abroad. If you plan to do any traveling while you’re away, look into potential visas you will need and make plans accordingly.
Buy Travel Insurance
There’s no guarantee that your current insurance at home will cover you abroad, so make sure to buy a comprehensive travel insurance for the time you’ll be away. The last thing you want to worry about when you’re abroad is some health emergency draining all your funds, so rest easy with an insurance plan.
Dealing With Money
Make sure you have enough funds to last you while you’re away. Be aware of what your study abroad program does and doesn’t cover (food, housing, etc.) Call your bank before you go so they know you’ll be abroad. Charges from foreign countries look suspicious if they’re not aware you’re gone, so they could put a hold on your account.
Housing varies from program to program, and you may or may not have your choice of where to stay. If you go with your university, chances are they have student housing arrangements set up, either in dorms or with host families. But if you go with an individual study program you might have to find your own accommodations. Do your research beforehand so you know what to expect when you arrive.
Make sure and give yourself plenty of time to buy your flight before you go, for the best deal. Student travel agencies like STA and Student Universe can often give you the best deal. Even if you’re not sure when you’re going to return home (if you plan to travel after your program), it’s not wise to buy a one-way ticket. Customs will want to see that you have an exit ticket, so buy a round-trip ticket with the estimated time you want to return home. You can always pay a change fee if your plans change.