Past study abroaders suggest the top 10 necessities when going abroad

We’re now just a few months out from sending our next group of students abroad for their summer programs! This summer we have students going everywhere, from Germany to France to Spain to the UK to Russia to Belize to Japan to Thailand…we could go on and on, but you get the point. Our students are going all across the world and are getting ready to embark on a life-changing journey that they’ll reflect back on for the rest of their lives. These students are just about ready to take off – with just a few things left to do.

However, what some past study abroaders have said is that sometimes, after so much planning and focusing on the big picture, the little things can slip your mind. Say…remembering to put your passport in your carry-on, or figuring out an international phone plan before leaving, or even just bringing the right clothes. So, here is where we come in. We’ve polled some students who have studied abroad in the last year and have created a list of the top ten necessities when going abroad.

1. Passport/Visa – This might be pretty obvious, but you should triple check to make sure it’s going to be mailed in on time and then, the night before you leave, make sure you have packed it in your carry-on bag or purse. Keep it in a safe pocket, but make sure it’s somewhat easily accessible so that you can pull it out quickly at the airport. (*Note: Not all countries require you to have a Visa – so do your research beforehand to plan out what needs to be done.)

2. Currency – Be sure to have some of your host country’s currency on hand before landing at the airport of the country you’re traveling to. You never know what emergency or problem could arise, so it’s always better to be prepared.

3. An open mind – Cheesy, we know, but this is one of the most important things of all to bring. The country you’re visiting WILL be different, even if they’re speaking the same language as you. There are completely different norms, cultures, foods, styles and religions, so be prepared for the unexpected and have an open mind going into things so you aren’t so shocked upon arrival.

4. Comfortable walking shoes – Just take our word on this. You WILL do a lot more walking while there and you will be doing some sightseeing, so make sure you aren’t wearing brand new shoes that will rub a blister on your feet the first day there.

5. Rain jacket/jacket – Do some research on your host country’s weather BEFORE you get in the car to go to the airport. Some students traveled to Spain and weren’t prepared for hot days and really cold nights, and some students that went to Germany were in urgent need of a rain jacket because of the constant rainy days. Be prepared and know your country’s general weather pattern so you don’t have to go out and buy a jacket or umbrella while there.

6. Phone Apps – This is one category because we received a number of different suggestions for apps to have downloaded before taking off. From WhatsApp to Viber to SkyScanner to a translator, there are many apps that could come in handy. WhatsApp and Viber have been wildly popular with students because you can text and call your family or friends back in the U.S. for free.

7. Your student ID – Some countries offer a lot of great discounts to museums and other attractions if you have your Student ID, so it’s always good to have it just in case. Hey, you’re in college, who wouldn’t want to save a little bit of money?

8. Converter/Adapter – Different countries have different outlets. A lot of students don’t think about this until it’s too late, so don’t let this slip your mind. Here’s an infographic on the the different plugs used in different countries:

Photo credits to Conrad McGregor, and

Photo credits to Conrad McGregor, and

9. Camera – Whether it’s on your phone, a higher quality one, or even a disposable one (hey, gotta do what you gotta do) – be sure to have one. However, in the words of one wise student, “Bring a camera to capture your memories, but don’t overdo it because you’ll miss the moment.”

10. Bucketlist – Bring your bucketlist! It can be your whole list, or even a country specific one, but just bring one! Have goals to reach towards while you’re abroad and actively try to accomplish all of your dreams possible within that amount of time. Don’t head overseas blindly – be prepared and know what you want to see in your host country, save the last minute planning for when you get back home and don’t do it while you’re abroad or it will waste valuable time.

As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


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