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I have about three weeks left here in Seville, Spain and WOW–I cannot believe I have exactly five weeks left before I have to leave this continent!
Below I have compiled a list of things you should do before you leave for your time abroad. Whether you leave in a few weeks or months, this check list will be super helpful!
- Order the respective currency for your country from your bank, if applicable, at least two weeks before you leave for Study Abroad. You will most likely get the best exchange rate with the least amount of fees. Once you’re abroad you will most likely rely on cash and taking out cash from any ATM can rack up the fees, losing you money in the long-run. So, try to take out enough spending money for the first week just in case you forgot to bring something important that you then need to buy. BUT, don’t take out too much money because you don’t want to risk losing it all should you be pickpocketed, lose your belongings, etc. My rule of thumb is: Only take with you what you’re willing to lose.
- Do reasearch on the weather you will be encountering for your time abroad. If you’re going to a place that will be changing seasons, bring clothes for each season. This doesn’t mean bring your entire wardrobe: think layers. Bring as little as possible because chances are you will be buying things during your time there.
- Make photocopies of your passport, IDs, debit card, credit card, student ID, and anything else that you deem important. Should you lose any of these items, having photocopies stored in a safe place will make the process of getting new ones MUCH easier.
- Get in contact with your phone company, health insurance, car insurance, and any other companies you have ties to that you need to pay every month and let them know you won’t be in the States. Ask if you can suspend payments since you won’t physically be in the United States and if that’s not an option make sure to set up some sort of payment plan for the time that you will be gone.
- Buy flight insurance! I CANNOT STRESS THIS ONE ENOUGH! You might think you know exactly when you’re going to return to the states, but something might come up and it’s better to be safe than sorry. You might decide halfway through studying abroad that you want to stay a bit longer to travel and if you have to buy an entirely new flight you might just be a bit disappointed with yourself.
- Pack basic medicine! You will more than likely have at least one headache or cold while abroad and it’s best to have pain reliever and cold medicine on hand. Also, don’t forget to pack medicine you take daily and make sure you have enough for the entirety of your time abroad.
- Figure out your phone situation! Find out if your phone is available to be unlocked by your provider and, if that’s not an option decide whether you want to have an international phone plan or use an old, unlocked phone and have a local phone number (I recommend this option, simply because you’ll probably pay much less in your host country for cell service). You also have the option of not having service at all and only using Wi-Fi but that is unpredictable because Wi-Fi isn’t always available everywhere like in the states. If there is an emergency and you’re not near a cafe with Wi-Fi, you’ll have no form of contact.
- BUDGET YOUR MONEY! This is probably the most important thing you should do before leaving the states. You need to have an idea of how much money you will have to spend during your time abroad. When planning for trips, keep in mind that you need to pay for transportation to/from the airport to wherever you will be staying, and you will also need to pay for food (whether you eat out or buy food from a local grocery store) and entrance fees to museums, monuments, etc.
- Find out what is available abroad. You might use specific products for your skin, hair, and body that are not available abroad. Make sure you know what you can find because you don’t want to be stuck using a prodcut that you’re allergic to, makes you break out, etc. If you’re not sure, bring enough for the entirety of your time abroad–you’ll be glad you did!
- Try to learn some of the host country’s language before leaving! It doesn’t matter if you can conjugate words or not, it will always be helpful to at least know Please and Thank You and phrases like Where is the restroom?, Where is the bus/train station?, and How much does this cost? It will also make the locals more likely to help you if they can see that you are at least trying to use their native language, even if you’re not great at it.
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