Your flight is booked, your bags are packed, and you can hardly wait to start your international experience. Before embarking on your adventure, however, here are some last-minute questions to ask your study abroad adviser.
What are some ways I can truly immerse myself in the culture?
Your study abroad adviser will have some great ideas for how to create a meaningful, personalized abroad experience. He or she will able to point you in the right direction for finding university organizations, volunteer opportunities, and internships to meet your needs and passions. Perhaps your program has a homestay option or a particular language class. Speak with your adviser about these extra options to make your experience even more valuable.
How can I reach the office if I run into an issue while abroad?
Sometimes the unexpected happens. That, unfortunately, is part of life. Maybe you missed your flight or the passport control agent is denying you admittance. Now that you’re settled in your new home, perhaps you’re having issues with your housing situation, or you’re failing a class you need to graduate. Be sure you know how to reach the study abroad office in case you have any trouble while overseas. Some offices even have a 24/7 phone line for this exact purpose. Your study abroad office is there to support you before, during, and after your abroad experience so be sure you have a plan in place.
Are there any particular dates I need to be aware of while abroad?
You will be very busy immersing yourself in a new university, community, and culture, but you still need to be aware of what is going on at home. Most students will need to register for their next semester courses while abroad. Write this reminder in your calendar now, so you’re prepared when the time comes. In addition, be sure to ask your adviser how to participate in elections while abroad. Your vote still counts!
How can I get involved once I return?
Reverse culture shock is a real problem for many students returning from a study abroad experience. Have a plan for tackling the symptoms of reverse culture shock by seeking volunteer or paid opportunities with your study abroad office. Be a point of contact for students interested in your program or volunteer at the study abroad fair. Most study abroad offices also have a peer adviser program that may or may not be a paid position. This could be a valuable opportunity for you to share your experiences and inspire others to study abroad.
With these questions answered, you’re prepared to step on that plane and start a life-changing adventure overseas. Enjoy it!
Authored by: Alissa Qualheim