Blog by Vanessa Teeter, Media and Communications Major, NW Cádiz Program
Here is some information that I found very useful over the past month of preparing for my study abroad adventures!
Financial Aid/Private Loan
I have not had much luck with financial aid but I do know for a fact that it is great to continue filling out FAFSA. You never know what you could become eligible for!
If receiving any federal funding do fill out a Revision Request form, which can be found online (www.uwb.edu) of the financial aid office. This form will basically be asking for your funds to be revised due to the study abroad expenses. This could lead to a possible increase in tuition
I have a student loan with BECU. Make sure to check in with them before studying abroad, especially if you will be using the private loan to pay for tuition.
It was extremely helpful for me to understand my MyUw account, web check and how to make a payment-using web check, and many other things.
Speaking of money….
- I am going to be in Spain for six months and will need to have access to money! My chase card’s ATM fees are 3% of the amount withdrawn plus $5, because of this I researched options that had no ATM fees or international fees.
- What I found with my other classmates was a Charles Swab account and card that can work as a debit and credit card. This was a blessing because they have no minimum balance, interest doesn’t start until after the first year, and if any fees are charged to the account Schwabs will reimburse!
- Overall it is a better deal even though I will be using the card for making ATM cash withdrawals about once a month.
- If you are staying a while and will need to withdrawal money, do not forget to budget and plan out how much money you will be spending.
I will be using Euros while I am abroad and also will be staying in Madrid for two days, before the program begins.
- Chase will order Euros for you, free of charge! This will take about three business days and the exchange rate is about 1.3. What you do is pull the money you want to exchange from your chase account.
- I have heard fervently not to exchange USD once I get to Europe because of sneaky fees! So stay prepared and think ahead!
Carrying Money while Traveling
- Invest in a neck wallet (TJ Maxx about $7) and/or a wait wallet (looks like a flat fanny pack) these are amazing to have your cash, insurance card, passport and cards.
- They are easy to conceal under your clothes and easily accessible to you! Not only will you be less likely to leave something important behind but you are less likely to become a target. I know most people think that there is no chance of having anything stolen but you never want it to happen, so be prepared!
- I do love my purses and backpacks but it is best to keep the most important things safe and on your person while traveling in unknown areas.
Packing– It’s not always fun but here is how I planned it out
- Check airline restricts, weight and size
- Check ryan air restrictions (within Europe) / cheap flights that have restricted bag sizes
- 3–4 weeks before departure
- Set apart basics
- This gave me the time to buy anything that I really needed and wouldn’t have realized otherwise
- Being a notorious over packer, this helped me to sort through necessary things to bring and leave behind
- Helpful tip: Keep the weather in mind, where else will you travel to, will you be there for a seasonal change?
1–2 weeks before departure
- Once you have all your basics, pack!
- See how everything fits, you might have to take some things out, or be able to add more.
1 week before departure
- Double check! Make sure you have everything you need, that the suitcase you’re checking is not over the airlines weight limit (this will save you some money)
Your friends and loved ones at home will of course want to be hearing about all your adventures!
Here are some apps: (all use wifi or data)
- Whats app
- Don’t forget: Apple products have free iMessaging and Facetime
If staying abroad for more than a month you may need a phone/plan
- Use your smartphone
- Get it unlocked by contacting your service carrier
- Some carriers (I have heard T-mobile) offer good International plans
- Get a plan once you get to your destination
- For Spain I have heard of Movistar and Yoigo
- Option Recommended: Get a plan with unlimited data and certain number of call and texts
- Get a plan and cheap phone once you get there!
- So far this is what I will be doing, bringing my iPhone 4 unlocked as backup
- I have heard of great plans from companies like movistar and Yoigo. Some only being 5Euros — 8Euros! A very good deal!
- What I am doing is buying the plan and using a phone left at the university by previous student.
- Great way to stay connected with people you meet
Back home Organization
When you get home you’ll want everything organized and spotless, leaving your only worry to be unpacking! Best thing that I dis was to clean up and organize the areas where I am most because I know that when I get home, those are the first places that will get dirty.
Another helpful tip is to leave a trusted person with a folder of important information, photocopies, etc. that way they can help you from home if anything comes up.
- Travel in groups
- Not only for safety but can help eachother out, and also there are also some travel group discounts!
- Renfe train discount on tickets if sign up as a group!
Things to follow!
- Connects people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats anywhere in the UK
- Also available as an app for download!
- International Exchange Erasmus Student Network
- Helps calculate how much sleep you need in order to prevent being jet lagged
- Also includes helpful hints and tips!
For more post check out my personal blog
Vanessa’s Personal Blog