Deciding to study abroad is a big decision, especially if you are thinking about going for a semester or even a whole year. When I make the decision to study abroad I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I would take a semester of electives, not go to class and just get to travel the whole time, boy was I wrong. There are many different study abroad programs, but if you chose to go with USAC, be prepared to go to class and learn another language.
When preparing to pack to study abroad make sure to remember that less is more. I made the mistake like many others by bringing way to much clothes. It’s likely that you will be picking up clothes and souvenirs during your time abroad so make sure to have plenty of space in your suitcase. My best advice for picking what clothes to bring is to bring clothes that are easy to layer.
Culture shock is a real thing and I was one of the people who thought, this will never happen to me, I’m tough. Well, culture shock can come at you pretty fast when you realize you can’t communicate with anyone or understand what anyone is saying. That being said, don’t worry too much about it, you will eventually adjust and wherever you chose to study at will gradually feel more and more like home. My best advice for over coming culture shock is to expect that it will happen and realize it’s a phase that will not last forever; learn from it and embrace the differences.
Make sure that you visit your bank before you decide to study abroad and let them know you will be abroad so they don’t freeze your accounts. Also it’s worth looking into finding a card with zero foreign transaction fees, they can add up so having a card that doesn’t charge you makes a difference. On the note of making sure you are ahead of the ball make sure you are applying for your passport and or visa plenty early. These government organizations aren’t known for their speed, and it’s no fun stressing out before you leave waiting for the paperwork to process. Make sure you look into the best budget options for communicating abroad as well. This will help you and your family back home less worried about being able to get ahold of each other.
Some of the best advice I heard about studying abroad is it’s going to get weird, so just embrace the unfamiliarity. The best stories are of things not going well, so don’t stress about missing a bus or eating weird food. Always make sure you are in a safe environment, but enjoy the differences and know that when you are uncomfortable as a human that you are learning and growing from that process. Studying abroad changed my life. It was one of the best things I have been able to do in my life. If you are on the fence about deciding whether to do it or not, let me tell you that you should.