Planning to study abroad?
If you’re like me, you decided to study abroad the moment you realized you had no answer to the question that bounces around the mind of every adventurer: Why not?
As a Pacific student, you have a plethora of UOP programs, scholarships and destination details at your fingertips, all of which you can discover with a quick trip to the Bechtel International Center.
As somebody who took advantage of this opportunity last spring with a great semester in Italy, I have returned with some bits of advice I would have found most helpful before my own departure.
1. Don’t overpack. Phrased a bit more definitively as “leave your pack half full” by my host program, USAC, this tip in particular proved to be the most logistically helpful. When you pack for your semester (likely from a packing list), it’s very important to recognize the necessities from the, well, non-necessities.
While it’s important to determine what will be available in your host country, it’s a safe bet that the 15th pair of socks, 4th binder or 3rd extra toothbrush will all be things you can leave behind and buy there.
If it’s saving money that’s important to you, keep in mind that every nickel and dime you save by taking extra toiletries, clothing and food with you on the flight there will all be in vain when you are paying $80-150 for an extra suitcase and baggage slot on your flight home.
You will end up with a lot more to bring home than you expected — pack accordingly!
2. Notify your bank. With all the emotions and excitement that come from saying goodbye to your friends and family before your flight, it’s all too likely that you may neglect the one that will miss you most: your bank!
Well, perhaps not so much on a personal level, but certainly as a client who they are responsible for protecting against fraud. A quick call to your bank to notify them of your change of location, and perhaps an office visit to acquire an internationally functional card, is all it takes to prevent that third card swipe followed by the dreaded message, “Card declined.”
Keep in mind that additional travel during your trip (quite common for those studying in Europe) may raise some flags for them as well, so try and make sure you have an approved contact available back in the U.S. to handle concerns as they arise.
3. Practice the language. While the majority of study abroad programs are marketed with the tagline “You don’t have to know the language,” it goes without saying that your whole experience will be a lot less rocky from the get-go if you arrive with basic conversational comfort and restaurant/market knowledge.
Ask almost anyone who has studied abroad and they will tell you the same thing: Just when they seemed to get the hang of everything is when they had to go home.
Knowing this, do your best to separate yourself from the wide-eyed pack and learn a bit more than “hello” and “goodbye” before you land!
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