A list of to-do's to help you plan ahead

By Alison Mohn
Published December 14, 2011

Now that you have decided that you want to study abroad in a different country, it’s time to start thinking about how you can prepare for this trip.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to meet deadlines, budget for your trip and plan what you will need while you study abroad. First and foremost, the biggest piece of advice you can take away is that time is of the essence.

Here’s a timeline to-do list of tasks to complete before you board the plane.

How to prepare 6-12 months before departure

  • Apply for your passport immediately (if you don’t already have one). This process can take up to 6 months if you’ve never been issued one before. Wondering where you can apply for one? It’s easy! Visit your local post office for an application.
  • Contact your local health department to determine if you need vaccinations before heading abroad. Sometimes you are required multiple doses of a vaccination, so again, plan ahead.
  • Make duplicates of your medical records, especially if you have any health conditions that need daily medications.
  • Draft a budget to determine the amount of money you will use in both U.S. dollars and the currency of the country in which you will be living. Not sure how to figure out the currency differences? Use a currency exchange rate calculator, which can easily be found online.

How to prepare 3-6 months before departure

  • Learn some key phrases that are commonly used in the city where you will be living. Worried you might forget them when put on the spot? Record yourself saying it on your phone so you can play it back if you’re in a bind.
  • Don’t want to look like a tourist? Keep in mind, gestures and actions mean different things in different countries so if you don’t want to look like a tourist, become familiar with the culture.

How to prepare 2-4 weeks before departure    

  • Start packing! While packing wisely can be a tedious step, it’s also one of the most exciting preparations. Be sure to pack appropriate clothes based on the weather of your new hometown and be careful to not over pack because you want to leave room for souvenirs.
  • Buy at least one adapter, if not more. You will most likely need adapters for your electronics and may need multiple adapters depending on the electrical appliances you plan to bring. You can find these adapters at any local electronics store.
  • Pack a separate bag that can fit important documents, a full change of clothing and necessary toiletries just in case your luggage gets lost.
  • Last but not least, leave time aside to give a proper goodbye to your friends, family and favorite foods that you will be leaving for the time being.

Alison Mohn studied in Rome, italy in 2010. She is a 2012 graduate of Temple University.