So, you did the unthinkable and what some people are too scared to do. You signed up for a trip half way across the world with absolute strangers! If you’re able to bring your bestie along with you, consider yourself blessed. If you can’t, no worries. I signed up for study abroad alone and it’s singlehandedly the best decision I’ve ever made.
Study abroad can be intimidating You’ll be at least 2 weeks away from home probably in an unfamiliar place. Culture shock is very real, so you’ll have to cope with that while focusing on your class and enjoying the experience. I have some tips to make study abroad less stressful and more enjoyable, and it starts even before you hop on your flight!
Before you can even think about boarding a flight, you need to make sure your documents are in check. You must verify when your passport is expiring. If your passport is expiring soon or during your trip, please go renew it. You’re going to be in contact with personnel from different countries. They all have different laws for passports and entering their country.
For example, the U.S. government advises travers to have a passport that’s valid 6 months after they’re traveling because some countries can deny their entry. It is suggested to renew your passport 9 months before it expires, so get to it! The routine renewal process can take 6 – 8 weeks. Expedited renewal take about 2 -3 weeks. In the case of an emergent situation like the death of a family member, you can renew your passport in 8 business days at agency locations. However, you must provide valid proof such as a life or death emergency. If you’re traveling within 2 weeks or need a foreign visa within 4 weeks, you need to make an appointment with your nearest passport agency. Visit www.travel.state.gov for more detailed information!
The first meeting for study abroad is always the most awkward one. Everyone is gawking at each other. If you’re embarking on this trip without someone you know, you’re calculating who could be your roommate and buddy through the trip. It takes a while to break the ice, so I suggest creating a group chat on Whatsapp or Group Me. everyone can share travel information like flights or ideas for cool things to do during free times. You’ll have a chance to get to know everyone and what to expect from your peers on the trip.
I suggested making the group chat for my study abroad trip. I told my professors and they gave me everyone’s numbers. Almost everyone had a Whatsapp, so it was really easy and great. At the following meetings, my professors mentioned the chat and the people not in the chat approached me and joined.
Let’s be real: a flight to Europe or Asia from the States is long and uncomfortable. Chances are that you won’t be paying for a first class seat, so you have to make the best of your regular degular seat. Mentally prepare yourself, it’s at least a 10 hour flight.
I recommend trying to find a direct flight. Websites like www.studentuniverse.com have low fares and sometimes discount codes. When I booked my flight to Spain, I got $30 off. My whole flight was only $486! The Skyscanner app on the app store is also great. You can set up alerts from within the app to know when prices change.
My biggest tip for finding a flight is (1) booking flights on Tuesdays because flights are always cheaper on this day and (2) finding a friend to book the flight with because it’ll make it less intimidating to travel so far. I booked my flight with a girl I met at a study abroad meeting. I voiced how I wanted to visit museums and she came up to me afterwards saying she wanted to join me. We exchanged numbers and booked our flights together. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and be friendly with others!
Your study abroad trip properly offers optional side trips to nearby cities or countries. My program was in Sevilla, so I had 2 side trips — one to Granada and one to Morocco. For the Morocco trip, everything was all-inclusive for only 200 euros, which was about $215. Not all programs feature side trips, but if yours does, I encourage you to participate! You’ll regret not doing it once you’re back home.
If your program isn’t offering a side trip, consider going on one! Once you’re abroad, it’ll be affordable and easier to travel, whether it’s across a country or the continent. There are many itineraries available online to assist you. My biggest tip is to look at different travel itineraries and form your own one according to your needs. You know if you’re willing to wake up early and what you’re interested in seeing.
My advice could be applied to non-study abroad trips and just any international travel overall! If you want to go abroad without the school part, you can check www.eftours.com. they plan trips for college students. You’ll be able to meet new people and explore the world at a great price!
Travelling is a magical experience and I encourage everyone to travel as often as they can. the excitement for preparing for a journey isn’t even nearly as good as the journey itself. What do you do to prepare for a trip that I haven’t mentioned? What’s your next trip? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading! 💋