On the surface, studying abroad can seem complicated. For some students transferring to university is difficult enough, let alone doing it abroad. However it does not have to be. Here are a few tips to help you keep organized when planning:
1. Become familiar with your new environment. This includes everything from the culture to the weather. Spend some time reading books or doing research about the history and the culture of your host city. With this said, books can only take you so far when it comes to the experiences of moving abroad. The Internet is your best bet for gaining various perspectives and the most up to date understanding of what it is like to live in your host country. You should also use Diversity Abroad Destination Guides to gain greater insight on what to expect, which also includes blogs and other articles written by people like you who are moving or have moved abroad.
Also, speak to study abroad alumni on your campus who have lived in the country you are moving to. With their advice you can get a better understanding of your new environment. To find these students, visit your study abroad office. If you do not have a study abroad office, visit the foreign language, international relations or business departments on campus. You can also explore Diversity Abroad Alumni Stories or the Community Forums to find someone that has been to your host country.
2. Remember: You can't take everything with you. You may need to rethink shipping your entire closet, or larger items, no matter how much sentimental value you have for them. Although many countries have the type of amenities you come to expect while living in the U.S., be flexible and adaptable to what is commonly available in your host country. Depending on where you go, there may be an "international" shop where you can find your favorite American products, but it's most efficient to try using items locally sourced.
3. Know your living arrangements ahead of time. Most programs provide housing arrangements such as dormitories and home stays, in which you stay with a local family. If you do have family or a friend in another country, you may want to consider contacting them and asking if it is okay to stay with them during your time there. By doing so, you could cut down the cost of the study abroad program you will be attending because they will not have to arrange your housing.
4. Be careful where you eat and drink abroad. Not all countries have the same sanitation standards as the U.S. Your body will have to adjust to the new foods of your host country. This is especially important in developing countries where drinking water may need to be boiled before drinking. If you have dietary restrictions, be mindful of how some foods may be cooked, and be sure to do some research about places to eat or buy groceries that will accommodate your needs.
5. Estimate your expenses and make sure you bring enough money with you. Research the cost of living in your host country and plan a budget. If you are working abroad, find out your salary and compare it to the cost of living of host country. Watch our webinar on how to budget and save for study abroad to learn more.
“I wanted to study Arabic in order to connect with my family, history, religion, and culture. I previously lived and worked in an Arabic-speaking country and wanted to learn Arabic more formally in order to maintain personal and professional...”
American Councils for International Education