Studying abroad can be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences for a student while still in college.
According to the 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, the number of U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit continues to increase. The most recent numbers from 2011/12 show that almost 300,000 students engaged in overseas education during that academic year.
Deciding to study abroad in college will ultimately be beneficial for increasing a student's cultural awareness and academic potential, but there are several preparations to be made before embarking on that journey.
Only buy the gadgets you know you'll need
While it may be tempting to buy those Vera Bradley luggage tags or that nifty pocket knife that features a corkscrew, mini-hammer and pepper spray, it may be wiser to forgo the superfluous purchases when prepping for a study abroad trip. Traveling abroad is exciting, so the temptation to obtain seemingly useful gadgets may be overwhelming, but try to limit yourself to only getting the essentials. Not only can the cost of these travel purchases quickly add up, but they can clutter an already-stuffed suitcase.
Instead of the luggage tags that cost the equivalent of what you usually spend on your mother for her birthday, opt for a passport cover to keep your identification papers safe during your travels. Consider purchasing a travel sewing kit instead of the pocket knife with the laser pointer you are convinced you will probably need during your exploits.
In addition to only purchasing gadgets that you need, only pack what you absolutely must have to remain comfortable during your stay. Remember that whatever is taken on a trip must be carried to and from the airport, which means there may be a significant amount of walking depending on which country is being traveled to. Keep your packing to a minimum; clothing can always be washed in a tub or sink if no washer is available, and most countries have small stores where toiletries can be purchased.
Also remember that you may want to buy souvenirs when traveling, which would be much easier to pack in the luggage you brought as opposed to shipping it overseas. Leave additional space in your suitcase if you anticipate purchasing trinkets abroad.
Chances are you've already done your research before choosing the country in which you desire to study abroad, but just because the decision has been made doesn't mean the research should stop. Though the trip may take place in a few months, it is important to be educated about the state of the country prior to departure. Become familiar their economy, politics and important news stories.
It is also helpful to look up how students and tourists are treated when visiting the country in question.
Invest in student travel insurance
When embarking on a journey that takes you to another country it is vital to invest in student travel insurance. This includes ensuring valuables, such as phones, laptops and tablets, are taken care of should something happen to them during your excursion. Travel insurance also covers medical expenses while abroad, should you find yourself in dire need of medical services while traveling in another country.