Study Abroad Preparation: Effective Planning Pays Off

Studying in another country is a life-changing experience that students will remember for years to come. Prior to leaving for the trip, however, students often feel overwhelmed and anxious about the preparations they must make. Forgetting to do something important, such as applying for a passport, can delay departure, start the trip off on the wrong foot or even cause a cancellation. Below are some of the most important considerations for any student planning to travel abroad.

Preparing Travel Documents

Before a student can travel to another country, he must have a valid passport. Students who don’t already have a passport should apply for one long before their scheduled departure. Those who have applied for a passport in the past should check the expiration date to ensure that it will remain valid throughout the trip. Depending on the host country’s policy, students may also need to apply for a visa. If a student visa is required, the application and processing can take several months, so students should apply as soon as possible.

Health Considerations

When students travel abroad, they may be exposed to diseases that aren’t prevalent in their home countries. To prevent serious illness, vaccinations are often required before the student will be permitted to enter the host country. Students should research these requirements long before the departure date and make an appointment with the doctor to receive the appropriate vaccinations. Students should also obtain copies of their medical records and a recent physical to take on the journey in case of a medical emergency. Finally, because few standard health insurance policies are valid in other countries, students planning to study abroad should invest in an affordable international student health insurance policy.

Currency Exchange

Traveling to another country typically requires a currency exchange. If possible, students should exchange currency before departure. The first days spent in the host country will be very busy, and exchanging currency in advance can save a lot of hassle. If students are unable to make the exchange from home, most airports offer currency exchange services. While in the host country, students can use ATM cards to obtain additional money. However, a student traveling abroad should inform his bank of his travel plans in order to prevent the bank from mistakenly freezing the account.

Cultural Research

One of the most important considerations for any student planning to study abroad is the host country’s culture. Long before the scheduled departure, students should conduct extensive research on the host country, its people and its customs. Students should be familiar with the local language, holidays, customary greetings, appropriate dress code, government and economy. Not only will this information prepare the student for the experience, but it will also help him engage in intelligent conversations with the host country’s citizens. Students should also consider the host country’s relationship with the United States, which may affect the way the student is treated by the locals.

When preparing to study abroad, students have a lot to consider. By beginning preparations well in advance, staying organized and doing plenty of research on the host country’s culture, students can ensure that their trip goes as smoothly as possible.

About the author: Holly Watson is a full time student and TA studying towards her Doctorate in literature and writing. She is an avid runner, blogger and travel enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter here: @hollyvicsays.



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