6 Things to do Now to Prepare for Your Summer Study Abroad
Students who are preparing for an international experience this summer should consider preparing now. The first study abroad experience can either be exciting, overwhelming, or both. However, the more willing a student is for their international living situation, the more likely they are to have a great time and be able to smooth over any unexpected situations that present themselves. Students are encouraged to create a checklist starting in the spring so that they make sure they are able to finish all of the necessary tasks within the appropriate time frame so they can just enjoy living abroad and focus on the academics or language instruction they will receive.
1. Passports and documents
The first thing study abroad students should think about is making sure all of their documents, especially their passport are in order. Students may also need alternate forms of ID such as a driver’s license or state ID card, a visa to study or live in a particular country, health and immunization records, and anything that’s required by the school to support academic study.
2. Travel and living arrangements
Travel and living arrangements should be made well in advance of a student’s departure date. If possible, it’s usually best for students to live on campus at their host school or surrounded by other students from their home university. Students generally feel most comfortable abroad if they are in a familiar company. However, temporary accommodation can book up fast so it’s important to have this arranged ahead of time. Additionally, if students will be traveling on the same flight as their classmates, it’s important that they make sure there are enough seats available for everybody (READ: “7 Tips for Studying While Traveling”).
3. The local language
International students will also want to familiarize themselves with the local language. In some cases, students will be going to a country to become conversational or perhaps fluent in a second language and will already be focused on their communication skills. On the other hand, some students will only want an international experience while getting a few summer credits towards graduation. All student travelers should make sure they have a few basic greetings and emergency phrases memorized in case they get separated from their group or have an emergency.
4. Friends and classmates
It’s also a good idea to go ahead and get in touch with any current classmates who might become good friends while studying abroad. It’s safer to travel in groups and knowing some friends ahead of time can make the adjustment away from home easier. It can often be more convenient to get to know a few people before leaving the United States than attempting to make a bunch of new friends while also adjusting to a new culture (READ: “6 Tips for Studying Abroad in Paris”).
5. The fun stuff
Study abroad students shouldn’t forget about the fun stuff. Planning day trips or weekend adventures, hanging out at a local cafe, and exploring the many tourist sites is a huge part of an international study experience. Students should check out any local hot spots, cultural heritage sites, and potential excursions online before leaving on their trip. Planning is an important part of the study abroad experience (READ: “Study Abroad: 6 Tips for Studying in Paris”).
Last, but certainly not least, are academics. Although it can be easy to forget about the units, a student will take while studying abroad, this is their main purpose for being there. Whether a student is studying English literature in London or French as a second language in Lyon, students will have to focus a large portion of their weekday on their textbooks and learning materials.