It’s time to start applying for winter study abroad trips, with an application deadline of May 15th, so here’s some application tips! If you’ve already applied for Summer, Early Fall, or Autumn programs, I have preparation tips for you as well!
- Start your research early! Think about areas of the world you’re interested in going to, and topics that’d be relevant to your major–but keep an open mind. Studying abroad is all about stretching your mind and horizons, so don’t be hesitant to apply to a program that might not directly tie into your major!
- Stalk the UW Study Abroad “now accepting applications” page. Not all programs get posted at once, so check back and you might see more show up that could be interesting to you!
- Choose the programs you apply to wisely. You get to apply to up to three programs, so I’d highly recommend using all three of those applications! Yes, it means more writing, but some programs are pretty competitive, and if you’re set on studying abroad in a certain time frame (like I was, my schedule was pretty full and early fall 2018 was really the only chance I’d get!), definitely use all three.
- Apply for scholarships! Scholarships can make a massive difference in affordability, but start looking early as some close at the beginning of the year! UW’s Study Abroad website has a list of scholarships that can be used for study abroad listed here: http://www.washington.edu/studyabroad/students/resources/finances/scholarships/. Also, there’s a box you can check during the application process that automatically makes you eligible for the UW Plan to Go scholarship that awards up to $2,500. In addition, if you are a UW Bothell student, you can apply to the UW Bothell Study Abroad Scholarship that, if you earn it, can reimburse you for airfare costs (which financial aid can’t cover!). In return, you commit to promote study abroad in various ways on campus.
- The nitty gritty. So you’ve been accepted to a program! Congrats! First things first, get a passport early if you need to. It takes forever for them to process and you don’t want to get stuck paying the expediting fee.
- Start searching for flights. You know know your destination country and arrival date, so start looking for flight deals. They fluctuate significantly, and getting a grasp on what’s a good price will help you decide when to buy. Also, watch layover times! Most international flights will have layovers in airports which is fine, but make sure you leave at least 2 hrs between flights so that you have time to get from one terminal to another! Missing a flight is no fun. When it’s a layover after entering a country, if you aren’t staying in the international terminal you’ll have to go through customs–so leave extra time for that. For example, on my way to Chile I went Seattle –> LA –> Santiago and didn’t have to go through customs until we landed in Chile. However, on my way home I went Santiago –> Lima –> LA –> Seattle. Entering Lima I didn’t go through customs since I stayed in the international terminal, BUT entering LA I DID have to go through customs since I was moving from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. Just a point I got confused about and thought I’d try to help you guys with! Hope that makes sense.
- Shop second-hand and sales. If you need any particular clothes for your trip, start looking early so that you can try to find deals at thrift stores or hit a sale for big ticket items, including luggage if you need to buy!
- Make a packing list. This helps you make sure you don’t miss anything and helps you plan. Some key items that I’d recommend bringing that are a bit out of the ordinary are:
- a portable battery (to charge your phone on the go, especially if you’re planning on taking pictures!)
- a daypack/small backpack for daily activities. You don’t want to lug anything to big, but there will be things you’ll want with you on the daily like a water bottle (soooooo important) and a notebook and pen!
- money belt to keep things safe (especially if you have to keep your passport on you at all times). Personally, I went a little different and bought a running belt, since I found it much more comfortable. It still fit my phone, passport, and some money with no problems. I used this one, which works great since it has a zipper (there’s a version without, watch out!) and you can have the zipper on the outside for access, or “flip” it inside for more security. https://www.amazon.com/FlipBelt-Running-Fitness-Workout-Black/dp/B01CGXUQHA/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=flip+belt+zipper&qid=1556322951&s=gateway&sr=8-3
- mini duct tape. You never know when you’ll need it.
- Practice pack! When you get closer to the departure date, collect all your things you’re bringing and do a trial run packing. This way, you can make sure 1) everything fits and 2) you’re within the weight limit. Usually the weight limit for international flight checked bags is 50 lbs, but check for your specific airlines. And don’t push the limit on the way there–you’ll definitely buy souvenirs and you’ll want space for that!
That’s all the advice I can think of for now, but feel free to leave a comment with any questions! I’d love to help answer them 🙂