So, you’ve decided to take a semester and study abroad. Congratulations! This semester will be a roller coaster ride of new locations, languages, customs, opportunities, learning environments and experiences. As a BCA Dunedin, New Zealand program alumni and university student who wasn’t entirely convinced this was exactly what I wanted to do, I can say that without a doubt that I could never imagine my college experience without it. Having now rode and completed the study abroad roller coaster, here are my five tips for studying abroad next semester:
- You actually have to study while abroad – Even though it may seem that you are abroad to meet new people and hangout, you still must put time into your studies. Especially if the classes you are taking are challenging or require more time than you are used to at your home university. Look for study groups, peer aids and university organizations to help you acclimate to your new school life. In addition to the stories, photos and friends you will have upon your return, keep your transcript in mind as well.
- Credit Card(s) – If you are going to get a credit card for studying abroad, make sure to look into the card’s foreign exchange rate. Some credit cards have a 0% foreign exchange fee; however, some can be as high as 2.9% which adds up after a couple big purchases. If you are planning on making purchases with a credit card while abroad your best bet is to find one with a lower foreign exchange rate. Also, make sure to let your bank know that you are traveling so you can use your debit or credit card abroad.
- Pack Light – The concept is simple: take less when you travel to your destination so that you have room to add things on the way back! If you take lots of clothes, shoes and personal items you may not have space to bring back the souvenirs, trinkets and clothing you gather along the way. Additionally, make sure to check what items are prohibited or restricted when returning to or arriving in a country. You don’t want to have something confiscated after you’ve gone through the trouble of buying it, packing it and hauling it half way around the world. (Pro Tip: You can purchase your toiletries abroad which also will free up room when traveling.)
- Buy an international adapter for the wall outlets– Depending on where you are the world, electrical wall outlets will most likely be different than the U.S. Equally as important, check the voltage of your high-powered electronics (some electronics have dual voltage so that you can use them abroad with just an adapter and not a converter). However, you may need a converter for some items so make sure to check the voltage of that item and the country you are traveling to, to make sure they are compatible.
- Health & Medication – Think about any medications or prescriptions that you may need while abroad. Some countries have strict policies when it comes to allowing medications or perceptions into their boarders. Make sure you check your host country’s guidelines to make sure you know what’s allowed in ahead of arrival. In addition, contact your doctor or medical provider to make sure that you will have enough medicine for your whole time abroad. You may also need a note from your doctor specifying about the prescription you will be bringing into your host country.
As a bonus, I’m throwing in one last tip. ENJOY YOURSELF! Ride the highs out with the lows. Not every day will be amazing, and not every day will be terrifying. You’re only abroad for a short time (comparatively speaking) so make the most of it. Store memories in your mind, journal, letters, etc. to share with your family and friends when you return. Take lots of pictures. When someone asks you to join them, say “yes!” (within reason), and have a great time abroad!
About the Author – BCA Peer Advisor: Nicole Pellegrini, Spring 2017 Dunedin, New Zealand & Elizabethtown College Student
I am a senior Psychology major with a Sociology minor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. I chose to study abroad for a semester so that I could experience new cultures and meet new people.I choose Dunedin because of the amazing scenery and outdoor hikes. I loved my experience abroad and wish I could go for another semester.