One of the most important and eye-opening experiences I have is from my study abroad last summer.
I traveled to Vienna, Austria and completed an eight-week internship at the International Press Institute there.
I walked off the plane in Vienna in May completely alone. I didn't know a single person in the country and I was about to stay there for eight weeks on my own.
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Thankfully, I did my research and I knew I was going to be able to make it.
Here are some tips before your study abroad so you can step off the plane confident that you know what you’re doing.
Check on your passport and/or visa
This is one of the most important things to do before you study abroad. First of all, make sure you have a passport and that it’s not expired so you can leave the country in order to travel out of the country.
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You also have to make sure that your passport isn't going to expire while you’re there so you can return.
If you do have to renew your passport, do it as early as possible. You don’t want it to come just days before you are going to leave.
Also, research whether or not you will need a student visa. This depends on where you’re going and for how long. It’s easy to find this information online, and you’ll definitely want to look into it.
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Your study abroad program coordinator should also be able to help you find out whether or not you need a student visa and how to obtain it.
Talk to people who have gone before you
If you’re doing an internship or are going as part of a study abroad group, somebody has most likely done the same one before you.
I would definitely ask the coordinator to send you the emails or phone numbers of the students who went before you.
They’ll be able to tell you firsthand about the experiences you might have, where to eat, what to see and what you need to know about the country, classes or company.
Set up a budget
When you’re talking to the people who have gone to the country before, be sure to ask about their budget.
Different countries can require vastly different amounts of money for living. Some countries are more expensive, and others are cheaper.
Figure out the costs of your flight, other transportation and living expenses. Ask other people what you think they spent on food, sightseeing and souvenirs.
Then, I would write this all out so you know about how much money you’ll need.
After figuring that out, look for scholarships. You can find them at your school or online websites, like Fastweb.
There are so many scholarship opportunities that could really help you out if you want to go abroad. And you’ll never get them if you don’t apply.
Figure out what you want to see
Now the super fun part: figure out what you want to do in your free time.
Look at the all of the different places to visit and eat. And don’t be afraid to hop on a train to a nearby country for a weekend or, perhaps, even extending your stay to explore nearby countries if you’re able.
When I was in Vienna, I took a train to Prague, Venice, Salzburg and Munich. It was incredible to be so close to these places and I am so glad I took the opportunity to go there.
Write down some options for what you want to see. That way, when a weekend rolls around, you have plenty of options.
Even with these tips, you probably won’t feel all that confident stepping off a plane in a country you’ve never been to before.
But I promise that the initial shock will eventually stop and you’ll figure it all out.