5 things to do before studying abroad


Anyone who has ever studied abroad will tell you that it was one of the best experiences of their life. What’s not to like about seeing a new part of the world, making new friends, exploring independently, and making memories that will last a lifetime? But before you head off, there’s a few things you need to do. To make it easy for you, here’s five simple tips to make your year abroad go smoothly.

Choose the right program. Do you want to study abroad for a full year or just six months? Most universities tend to offer half-year courses for exchange students, but there are longer courses on offer. Read as many reviews as you can, speak to former students who took the course, and ask for advice from your university’s study abroad adviser. Honestly, you will have an amazing time regardless of the program, but it’s still important to choose the right program for you!

Pack light. Some students who study abroad choose to ship a few boxes over to their new destination, but some take the bare minimum and buy what they need when they arrive. From my experience, I’d suggest travelling as lightly as possible, especially if you’re only there for six months. You can buy all your essentials in your destination country, and it’s a great way of getting out and exploring your new town or city at the same time.

Want to work while you’re abroad? This is a great idea to earn some extra money in your spare time and blend in with the locals. Of course, you’ll want to travel around your destination country, so you’ll definitely need the money! That said, you’ll need to make sure you’re up to speed with employment legislation and find out if you’re eligible to work or if there’s any documentation you’ll need to arrange before you go.

Work out where you’ll live. Some universities offer accommodation for exchange students, but some will leave that up to you to sort out. Don’t assume that your accommodation will be sorted and ready for you when you step off the plane – find out where you’ll be staying and if you need to make any arrangements yourself.

Write up a budget. Never done this before? Well, now is the time to learn! If you’re studying in Eastern Europe or South East Asia, you’ll find the cost of living to be significantly cheaper than what you’re used to – but you may end up spending more if you head to Australia, the UK, or one of the Nordic countries. It’s important that you have a general idea of how much you’ll be spending on a monthly basis and you’ll probably find in your first couple of months, you’ll end up spending way more than you originally anticipated!

See your doctor. No one likes going to the doctor, but this is really important, especially if you’re travelling to somewhere off the beaten track. You might need certain immunizations or medication, and if you’re on repeat medication, order enough to cover you for the length of your study period. You’ll also need your doctor to write up a letter to accompany your medication, as customs often ask to see this when you arrive.

It might seem like there’s a lot to do before you head off on your study abroad adventure (see here for a few more tips), but once you’ve got it all out of the way, you can do all the fun things – like planning your weekend getaways, making travel plans, and reading city guidebooks! There will no doubt be things you can’t plan for and a few bumps along the way, but hopefully these tips will help you hit the ground running.


Guest Posting from Victoria Moretti, a professional writer from the UK who contributes to Abroad101 from time to time. Victoria loves to write about businesses and macro economic affairs that move the needle. Her other loves include travel, long walks and flat whites.

Parents: Encourage Your Teen to See the World

Parents: encourage your teen to see the world and gain worthwhile experiences this summer!

For many teenagers, it can be tempting to spend summers off from school doing a whole lot of, well, nothing – going to the beach with friends here or there, sleeping in late, playing a few games of pick-up basketball, and basically just hanging out. And while it’s true that sufficient sleep is important for your growing kids, and some amount of downtime can also be a great idea — two and a half months of doing nothing but lounging around watching TV is maybe not the healthiest option.

Encouraging your teens to get out and have some worthy, productive summer experiences is super important – for you, and for them. This is especially true if your teen is hoping to go to college, and possibly even win a scholarship or two. After all, what’s going to look better to a college admissions board – months of sitting around at home, or a worthwhile volunteer program?

There are many different summer activities out there for high school students, but one of the best, and most beneficial, is the option of studying or volunteering abroad. High school study abroad has been on the rise for a few years now, and there are many reasons why:

1) Becoming proficient in a foreign language is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. And because younger students learn faster than college-aged students, your teen is more than likely going to be able to soak up another language pretty fast – giving him or her one awesome, marketable skill for the future.

2) Study abroad looks wonderful on college applications and resumes. Because it’s possible to earn college credit or community service hours while abroad, your child’s study abroad experience will signal to college admissions counselors that he or she takes academics seriously. In addition, study abroad really helps imbue students with vital global leadership skills and a more balanced, worldly perspective.

3) While abroad, your teen will receive a much richer education than a normal classroom would provide. Study abroad programs offer a chance to learn about a country’s language, history, and culture – while living in that country! This kind of in-depth, culturally-enriching education will be invaluable to your teen.

4) Gain good contacts and networking prospects for the future. You never know who you’ll meet when you seize an opportunity like the chance to study abroad. Other than gaining good skills for a future job (it’s not that far off!), it’s entirely probable that your child could make some worthy connections for the future – and possibly even score a potential summer internship or employment opportunity.

5) Studying abroad is an amazing experience. Your child will undoubtedly achieve new levels of maturity, focus, and tolerance while studying abroad – and, of course, it’ll be a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

And the best news? High school study abroad doesn’t have to be expensive! Many programs offer scholarships, financial aid, or fundraising guides. So, start encouraging your teen to get out in the world and have a life-changing study abroad experience!

Guest author-
Justine Harrington
Program Advisor | SPI Study Abroad