If you’re like me, preparing for an international trip comes with a long list of questions and worries. Sometimes, the answers to those questions can be elusive or uncertain. There are a number of concerns about what to bring, how to communicate once you are abroad, and where to find information. Here are a few things that I have learned so far, which have been extremely helpful in the preparation process:
For books, I recommend going to Amazon.com. Buy the older or used versions if there aren’t particular or new editions required. Many of the used books I received were in perfectly usable condition, not to mention cheap. Order them at least four weeks out or more; you never know how long it will take for the books to arrive at your doorstep.
Phones are a concern, but not always necessary. Navigating foreign websites to obtain disposable phones and plans that are based in your country of study ahead of time can be confusing. Check with the carrier you have now. Find out what the rates will be once you’re abroad. However, if it becomes too much of a hassle and you are guaranteed to have internet service, remember that Skype is a great replacement and typically provides you with everything you need. If your carrier cannot provide international service, Skype simply isn’t enough, or if the cost is too much, then network with other students and see what they are doing. They are typically a great resource and can sometimes speak from experience. Otherwise, don’t worry; your professors are usually going to be fairly observant of the transportation in your country of study and will have a game plan as to how to get you from one place to another.
Check out your country of study and see if the outlets and plugs are different. In most cases, they are. You will probably need to buy a voltage transformer and a plug adapter that will allow your U.S. plug to work with foreign outlets. You can find these in almost any store that has a travel section. Keep in mind, however, that many laptops and cameras these days have dual voltage capabilities, which means that you might only need the plug adapter.
When studying abroad, there are times where you need to be aware of the chance of pickpocketing. Be aware of the items you bring with you at all times. Already, I have had a couple of friends experience pickpocketing and it is unpleasant. Keep your purse or bag in front of you at all times in crowded areas, and keep it strapped across your body rather than simply hanging at your side. Watch the people around you, and make sure that you aren’t distracted, particularly in crowded transportation areas or popular tourist destinations.
The last pertinent thing I found that you can do is coordinate with the other students in your program. If you’re like me, and you don’t know many of the students going abroad with you, this takes a little bit of outreach and extra confidence. Set up a Facebook page for your group. The students I am currently with use it almost every day to arrange outings. You are about to embark on a long trip with these students; establishing a connection prior to your arrival will only strengthen your traveling experiences and bolster the opportunities you have for getting the most out of your trip.
I hope this helps! Of course, there are many more things to consider for extended international travel, but the items mentioned above are what I have found to be the most pressing as well as less obvious. These are tricks and tips that I have managed to figure out, and which I feel are the most beneficial. Thanks for reading and I hope these ideas are helpful for other students who are planning to go abroad in the near future!