Studying abroad is one of the best things you can do as a student. Immersing yourself in a new culture, learning a new language, making new friends, and taking advantage of the many opportunities to travel in a new region of the world.
This is a time of new experiences and figuring out who you are, and, yep, making lots of mistakes. It’s only to be expected, but there are some things you can do to prepare for your time abroad, in order to make it as enjoyable as possible.
Here are seven mistakes to avoid making while studying abroad.
Not Bothering to Learn Some of the Language
If you’re placed in a college in a country where English isn’t the first language, I recommend investing your time into learning the basics of the language before you arrive. It shows respect to the locals, it means you’ll find it easier to get around and get what you need, and it helps you obtain more of an insight into where you’re living. You don’t want to travel all that way just to hang out with people from your school, do you?
Not Taking Advantage of Budget Travel Options
You’re fortunate to be living in a new region of the world, so why not take advantage of the many budget travel options you have available to you? Weekends are the perfect opportunity to head off to a brand new city and explore a place you’ve always wanted to see. Once you arrive, take a look at Skyscanner and use the "everywhere" option to see how cheap the flights are -- you'll end up with a list of fifty destinations you want to visit!
Planning Too Much
It can be tough to resist the temptation to plan out every aspect of your study abroad trip, but I highly recommend doing the opposite. It can be tempting to sit down and think about how many trips you’re going to take and looking at flights, and booking them when you see a great deal, but one of the joys of travel is being spontaneous.
Instead of planning out all of your trips in advance, plan nothing. Just show up and see how you feel, what the weather is going to be like, and where is pulling you.
Not Talking to Your Bank Before Leaving
The last thing you want to happen is for you to arrive in a foreign country, head to the ATM, and discover your card has been blocked. What would you do in that situation?
Make sure you talk to your bank several months before leaving, both to tell them where you’re going in order to make sure your card doesn’t get blocked and to ask if they have any deals for you. If you’re going to be charged every time you make a withdrawal, it might be worth looking at moving to a different bank that doesn’t charge.
Not Getting Your Phone Unlocked Before You Leave
The simplest way to keep connected while you’re overseas is to get your phone unlocked and pick up a local SIM card. You’ll be able to keep in touch with your friends who are in the same place as you without burning through your credit within seconds. Local SIM cards will offer the best rates for calls and data. Set your parents up with a Skype account before you leave and use Wi-Fi to call home.
Don’t Pack Too Much
It can be tempting to take everything you own overseas with you – especially if you’re going to be away for a year, but you really don’t need that much stuff. Instead, you should buy one suitcase and put your essentials in it. Remember: you can buy everything in the city you’re going to. Clothes, toiletries, makeup, medication… there’s no need to worry about taking everything with you.
Stay in the Moment
This is an incredible experience for you, and you don’t want to waste it spending all of your time on Facebook. Remember to unplug at times, experience everything fully, and make the most of being somewhere you might never return to. The last thing you want to do is spend your study abroad doing exactly what you do at home.