The study abroad pre-departure period can bring so many emotions for students. On one hand, you are thrilled to be embarking on an adventure that could have amazing consequences in your life for years to come. On the other hand, you are heading into the unknown, and so much of your learning will be both on the go and day by day.
In today’s post, we are going to talk about five key things you should do before you head off on your semester (or longer) away overseas to create less drama for yourself in the long run.
1. Close Loops on Campus
Once you have finalized your plans to study abroad (signing on the dotted line, paying your deposit, etc) you have another job to do. Closing loops on-campus at your current educational institution is a necessary, but often forgotten, necessary step for many students.
The “loops” that you will need to close are going to be individual based on your situation, however typically there are a few common ones that most students should focus on:
Your Academic Advisor – As one of the closest people to you and your plans for study abroad, they are likely already aware of your official plans, but you should check-in with them to make sure you have done all you need to do for the upcoming year (assuming you are not graduating right before or after your study abroad semester).
– Verifying that you have registered for the correct classes (or that you know the date of when registration for the next quarter/semester opens while you will be abroad)
– Have a clear understanding of whether or not you will be earning credits while abroad, and if there is anything you need to do specifically to notify your school when the classes you take abroad are complete and last but not least
– Confirming that any courses you are taking while abroad are relevant enough towards your degree or towards your goals.
Financial Aid Advisor – Relevant mostly to students who will be using financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans) for their study abroad programming, please schedule an appointment with your school’s financial aid advisor. You are going to want to confirm that you have cleared all paperwork necessary for your money to be released for your semester abroad.
This is also a great time to check-in about any financial aid needs you will have for the following quarter/semester and what you may need to do while you are abroad to re-apply for any aid.
Housing Director/Landlord– For many U.S. based students, a check-in with your current R.A or on-campus housing director will work, while non-US-based students that do not live in dorms, may still have landlords that will need to be considered.
Are you able to sublet your dwelling? IF you are moving out but want to return, is there a new contract that needs to be signed before you leave? Are there any financial ramifications for leaving a lease or agreement for the period of your study abroad semester?
Ensure that all these details are clarified with your landlord and when possible, get the information in writing for your own legal protection.
2. Make Paper Copies of All Key Documents
While this concept may seem old school, paper copies are still in fashion when it comes to vital documents that hold the key to having a successful semester (or longer abroad). I always recommend that students make three packets of copies of the following, with staying with people at home that you trust and one for your own suitcase:
Student Visa (including any letter documentation that was returned with your visa from the consulate)
Birth Certificate (You will not have the seal on the back, but a copy can help in some cases)
Proof of Admission to Program
Proof of Housing
Proof of Finances to Remain in the Country
Proof of Health Insurance (as needed)
While this is not an exhaustive list of what you should have paper copies of when you go abroad, these are all common ones that many of my students (and myself included!) have made copies of in the past.
The primary reason is thinking forward ‘just in case’. If you lose your passport, your visa gets damaged, or you need to prove who you are for some reason, copies can become a holder and get you in the door faster to get a replacement from the official issuing authority than if you had nothing at all.
As mentioned above, be sure to leave at least one copy with a family member, and at times, I also recommend that you leave a copy with your academic advisor, just so two people at home have access and could potentially help you.
Interested in learning about tips 3, 4, and 5? Watch the Video below on YouTube to finish this blog post!
Is there anything in particular that worries you right now about studying abroad? What are you most nervous about? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!
Until next time,
Known as The Study Abroad Specialist, Kimber Grayson is a serial-study abroader turned International Education coach and expert. Since 2014, she has helped 100+ students navigate their semester away journey from the coastal areas of Spain to China and every place in between. In 2018, she launched The LiveStudyLearn™ Abroad Association, a one-of-a-kind online membership platform for study abroad students worldwide.
She holds two Master's degrees from two well-respected London-based universities and has experience working in the US, UK & and Italy.
In her spare time (what's that again?), she enjoys leisure travel city breaks, any snow-based activity, skeet shooting, and attempting to learn new languages.