Top 5 must’s before you study abroad

By Fahima Haque
Published July 25, 2011

How to Prepare for Study Abroad

1. Save, save, save!

Saving up money before you study abroad can’t be stressed enough. You can’t hop from country to country and buy souvenirs and trinkets without money in your pocket. Whether it’s your parents, an adviser or a friend who has studied abroad before, talk to someone who can help you create a savings plan that allows you to have the most fun with what you have.

2. Find scholarships

If you search for study abroad scholarships in your school’s study abroad office, chances are you’ll find plenty of options with little competition. In my experience, our school didn’t advertise study abroad-related scholarships so by being proactive, I was awarded a significant amount of money for additional aid to use during my time abroad. The same could be true for you.

3. Be realistic

One of the most important preparations for studying abroad is packing smart and realistically. Do you need 10 pairs of shoes? Probably not. Think about where you are headed when you start to pack. Will the weather change dramatically over the course of your stay? Consider the voltage exchange so you’re not packing unnecessary items that won’t work when you get there.

4. Get excited, not distracted

A major mistake students make when preparing to study abroad is getting more and more excited for their trip and paying less and less attention to their current schoolwork. It's one thing to get excited, as you should, but another to let your GPA potentially fall to the wayside.

5. Get acquainted

Many students are given a list of names and email addresses of the students in their study abroad program so everyone can reach out to each other ahead of time. This makes traveling to a new place less stressful when you know you’ll have a few friendly faces waiting to greet you. I strongly suggest actively meeting people and being social, and that can start even before you leave for your time abroad.

Looking for more information? Check out our study abroad student guide to learn more.

Fahima is a copy aide for the Washington Post and has a B.A. in journalism from American University. She studied abroad in London, England during the Spring of 2009.