Tips for the best Study Abroad Experience
Spending an extended amount of time abroad does not always begin comfortably. It can take time to transition to the local customs and climate. Here, we provide tips for a smoother start, so you can enjoy your experience from day one.
Learn a few key phrases
It's certainly possible to study abroad in a foreign country without knowing the native language -- but learning at least a handful of common phrases will go a long way. Even if many people speak English in the region you're visiting, your attempt at speaking the language will show that you appreciate the local culture and perhaps earn you better service as a result. For starters, learning to ask ‘Do you speak English?’ can go a long way.
Learn local standards for tips
Giving fifteen percent for waitstaff is not a global rule. In fact, in some European countries, leaving a tip is not only unnecessary but unheard of. Do your research in advance to avoid awkward instances in restaurants, hotels, salons, taxis, and more. You may save yourself some Euro this way too.
There is a whole city to explore but don't skip out on the study abroad information sessions offered in the beginning. While these auditorium meetings may seem boring or repetitive, if you listen closely, you're sure to absorb some important tips that will make the time worthwhile.
Too nervous to make the leap alone? Consider studying abroad with a friend for a joint globetrotting experience neither of you will soon forget. Of course, once overseas, you'll want to meet up with other friends who are abroad. Use a service like gtrot to keep track of you and your friends travel plans. It’s always nice to have a friendly face in a foreign country.
While it goes without saying that travelers should avoid moping in the dorms when homesick, it is especially important to resist the urge to do so at the very beginning. You'll want to jump right in and be part of the initial friend-making activities amongst fellow study abroad students -- or else you may miss the window of opportunity to make your new international crew.
Protect important information
You’re soon realize that your passport is one of your most valuable possessions. Make sure you keep it in a safe place when you’re in your home city and carry it in a secure location when you travel. Save a digital copy of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards and other important documents in your email account or an online hard drive like Dropbox.com. If you lose important documents while traveling you are only an internet connection away.