How to Prepare to Study Abroad January 16, 2015 By Caitlin Bradford 1 Comment College is the time to learn, experience, and explore, and studying abroad offers a perfect opportunity for this personal growth. According to a recent study, studying overseas also provides a great return on investment when looking for a job after college. But, if you are planning on going overseas, what can you do to prepare and have the best possible experience? Research Your Destination There are literally thousands of options when it comes to studying abroad. Do plenty of research in advance to find out what interests you most and what your university might already offer. Remember, even if your university does not have a set program that seems ideal to you, you may be able to work with a third party study abroad coordinator to find the overseas program that is the perfect fit. Don’t be afraid to do something outside of your comfort zone; in the worst case scenario, remember that learning what you do not want to do is a very useful life experience as well. Make Sure You Have Your Passport and Visa No matter where you have decided to go, you need to make sure you have the proper travel documents in place. For any foreign country, you will need a passport, but investigate the visa requirements well in advance as well since these vary from country to country, and sometimes they vary by a lot. Be sure to check with the US State Department and the Embassy of the individual country you will be visiting for tips on what exactly you need. Often, your program will help you out in this regard, but that is not always the case. Take the initiative to avoid any problems when you get closer to your departure time. Get Your Travel Vaccinations Traveling abroad can come with hazards that may not be associated with domestic travel. For example, in many places, diseases that are unknown in the United States like Japanese Encephalitis and Yellow Fever are endemic. Vaccination offers significant protection against these diseases, and there are other strategies you can follow when overseas to keep yourself healthy as well. Be sure to schedule a travel health appointment at least 4 to 6 weeks before your departure date to make sure you have a thorough strategy for staving off illness abroad. Staying fit is another key part of studying abroad. There will likely be a lot of physical activities in which you can participate, be they tours or community outreach, and being fit is a necessity for all of them. Do everything you can before you go to get healthy and fit for your stay abroad. Budget Having your finances in order before making your trip is a must. Be sure to budget for everything you might need as well as side trips. Remember that communicating with others in your host country and with your family at home should be a budgetary consideration as well, since an international SIM card or calling plan for your cell phone will be an additional expense. You can also purchase an inexpensive cell phone when you arrive at your destination to use for the duration of your stay. Also, be sure to alert your bank and credit card companies before leaving the country so that purchases made overseas are not flagged as fraud and your cards do not end up being declined. Have fun! With proper preparation, you are all set to have a whole lot of fun! Although study abroad is not a vacation, you will surely have ample study breaks to explore your destination. Keep that in mind! Take tours, explore, and find new things to experience to make the most of your time overseas. Have you studied abroad? What tips might you give someone considering it? Comment below or on the Passport Health Facebook page and leave your thoughts.