1. The process is worth it!
One of the things you must know before you study abroad is that the process of applying is certainly worth the experience! There are A LOT of forms that you have to complete before studying abroad and the process can be tedious. Along the way, you will have misdated multiple signatures, missed deadlines, and forget to turn in some documentation all together. But don’t worry because these are all small challenges to work towards the experience of a lifetime!
2. Pack prepared but don’t overpack
Packing is one of the biggest nightmares of studying abroad. You’re expected to pack only necessities for a semester (or more) and who knows how many clothes. My best tip is to bring everything you would miss if you were home, but limit it to around 2 weeks’ worth of clothes. Remember, you are doing this because you are going somewhere you think you’ll love! You will still be able to shop and almost all study abroad destinations have similar brands worldwide! On the other hand, you need to save some space in your luggage for all of the stuff you will want to bring back or consider shipping a suitcase back home. Find more information about this on my post about the 5 best packing tips for studying abroad here.
3. Keep in touch with your friends at home
This tip for studying abroad was one that I felt like I neglected. During my stay in Florence, I rarely called or facetimed my friends. I think I kept myself busy enough to the point where I didn’t have time to feel homesick, but I definitely missed friends from home. I think it’s also important to keep in touch with friends because they want to know what you’re up to! One of the worst parts of coming home after studying abroad is your friends asking, “So what’d you do?” and you have about 100 things to tell them so you just have to sum up your amazing experience in a few words.
4. Have a general idea of activities to do while abroad before leaving
This is one of my favorite tips for people before they study abroad. I think it’s important to have a good idea of what you want to do when you arrive to your new country. Try answering some of the following questions:
Where do I want to go on weekends? How much time do I want to spend in my country/city? Are there holidays that might make travel to locations more or less expensive on certain weekends? What places do I absolutely have to see while I’m in this country?
Planning ahead will help you a lot, but obviously it’s not possible to plan every weekend before studying abroad. This is why I recommend you do at least a little research and book a trip or so in advance. This will seem like a lot, but I guarantee it will save you money, stress, and time down the road.
5. Keep pictures of all important documents on your phone/cloud storage
While studying abroad, you will most likely either get a credit card canceled, lose some form of ID, or run into another issue with documentation. This is one of the main reasons why you must have have backups/copies of all of your documents while traveling. It’s good to have for any possible situation. Luckily, I only had a credit card cancelled while studying abroad and didn’t have issues with any other documentation.