How to Prepare for Studying Abroad

Since I was a little girl, I always knew I loved traveling, and I would travel as much I could. When I came to college, I immediately knew that study abroad was something I needed to do. I talked to my advisor about it the first time we met, and this past semester when I decided I would be leaving spring semester of my junior year I thought I was prepared. However, there are so many things that didn’t cross my mind. Here’s a few tips I have for preparing for studying abroad.  

Choose a Location that Best Suits You 

For me, I wanted to go to a more unique location and somewhere that was financially feasible. You will also need to consider what classes each location offers but thankfully I had saved a lot of my electives so that wasn’t a problem. I ended up choosing Chiang Mai, Thailand for many reasons. The price was certainly right, they offered unique classes (I am going to be taking a class on mindfulness and then go on a yoga retreat, so cool!) and it dubbed the “Land of Smiles.” How could I not choose that? 

Talk to the Right People 

My study abroad advisor at UC and my advisor through my program are definitely the people I email the most. Whenever I am unsure about something or have a question that I can’t find the answer to online I always shoot them an email and they are incredibly understanding and helpful. I also DM’d a girl on Instagram who went through the same program I am going through and asked her five million questions. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions and get all the knowledge you can before you set foot in an exciting, but new country for the first time.  

Have a Running List of What You Need to Buy 

About a month ago I had a nightmare that I forgot to buy all of the necessities for the trip and was going through security at the airport – absolutely frightening! Now I have a list on my phone of everything I need to order before I leave, that way it isn’t overwhelming at the last minute. I found great resources on my study abroad website and the internet as well. It is important to look up the weather where you will be going as well as what outlet adaptors you may need. Don’t be like me in my awful nightmare! 

While I am in still in the thick of trying to get everything for my trip sorted out, I feel at ease because I planned ahead and had great people to discuss my questions with. I know that the second I get on that plane and am on my way to Chiang Mai all my hard work will pay off. Also, don’t hesitate to DM me, I promise I won’t think you’re creepy and I will most likely talk your ear off about how awesome my experience has been. 

Sara Lopez

(Featured photo by Mary Callaway LeBus)

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