You've made more decisions in the last few months than in your entire life. You'll finally start being able to reap what you saw - just a few things to take care of before that.
How Can I Find A Cheap Flight?
You know you are going to have a great time. Being abroad is probably going to change you.
Before all any of that happens, you need to book a flight. And with all the expenses coming soon, you probably want it to be a cheap flight.
A way to do this may be to purchase them through a student travel agency. These tend to be cheaper and more flexible.
These cool links are a good way to start:
- STA Travel UK: http://www.statravel.co.uk/
- STA Travel U.S.: http://www.statravel.com/?from_US=true
- International Student: http://www.internationalstudent.com/travel/student-airfare/
It may seem like a silly expense, but trust us, it's not. Buy an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) (http://www.isic.org/ ). You can find it in some retailers and it can get you a ton of discounts you didn't even know you could get.
If you are not feeling the ISIC, you can purchase a StuCard (www.stucard.net) instead. It's basically the same but with less initials!
Both of these cards come with an added benefit: limited health and accident insurance while you are on your travels.
How Do I Find a Place To Stay For a Bit?
Most students have accommodation sorted before they arrive in their destination. They can do this through their institutions, usually. However, it doesn't matter if you don't, as long as you have a bit of cash to spend. It doesn't have to be much - you are probably not going to stay in a hotel. After all, they can be pretty expensive.
Youth hostels are the cooler, more popular version of hotels for students and other travellers on a budget. You'll find them in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
They'll also have rooms in all shapes and sizes, including shared bedrooms, shared bathrooms and private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Space is costly, so remember that if you want a private room, you'll be paying more.
Staying in a hostel will probably save you money and you'll get to meet cool people around the world.
What about more long-term accommodation?
If you still don't have long term accommodation when you arrive in the country, you should start looking straight away. You may be able to live with a host family for a fee, move in with other international students or end up living in a hall. Sometimes, these get full easily, so make sure you attempt to sort out your long-term accommodation as quickly as possible. Your institution or university will help you look - just tell them what you need.
What Else Do I Need To Know Before I Get There?
Brace for culture shock. After all, culture shock is natural. You just need to prepare yourself to make it a little easier.
Read about your country of choice and learn all the details. Of course, you will want to learn about the everyday things: typical weather for different times of the year, the timezone, and popular foods. You'll also want to learn as much as you can about the culture, the history of the country, and how the educational system works. If you are struggling with this, try to connect with students that are already abroad.
Knowing all this stuff will make your transition way easier when you get there.
Great. So About Packing...
Right, don't worry, we'll help. Deciding what to pack can be overwhelming, no matter how long you are gone for. Before you stuff all your stuff in your bag, remember that you are going to have to carry it around for a while. Be realistic and a little cruel to your things for the best results.
Here's a handy list to make sure you pack what you need:
Copies of all important documents. Make two copies of your stuff. Leave one at home, take one with you. You may want a silly bag to tie around your waist. Whatever the case, make sure not to lose them.
Student identification card. You need your student ID to do official university stuff. Also, it may get you discounts.
Medications. Make sure to take all the medications you need, but before you do, make sure you are allowed to bring them in. Don't forget your contacts or glasses.
Clothes. Bring appropriate clothes to your adventure. Leave bulky stuff behind. If you are going somewhere cold, remember everyone's favourite trick: layers.
Laptop/tablet/computer. Take your laptop, but leave behind your other electronics. You'll need an adapter to make them work, and even then, they may not.
Mobile phone. Can you live without your mobile phone? Maybe you can't. Maybe you should buy a new one when you get there or ask your provider if you can use your phone abroad. Whatever the case, it is important that you do have a phone.
Special items from home. Pack some things to remember home by, but make sure it's nothing irreplaceable. Good idea: A few Polaroid pictures and a keychain. Bad idea: The expensive necklace your departed grandmother gave you on the last birthday you spent together.
Local currency. You need money. They won't take yours. You see the logic here.
Bank/credit card. If you have a credit card, take it. You can easily use it. Make sure to ask your bank about charges and tell them you are going abroad. Otherwise, they may put a freeze on your account - the last thing you want.
Camera. It's for pictures, and you don't want to run down your phone's battery by taking a few hundred pictures every day or so.
Journal. A journal is a great way to keep focused and share your experiences with the world, even little things that you may not remember otherwise. Carry one!
Your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra change of clothes, your toiletries and all your important documents in your carry-on. Your other luggage may get lost. Anything you can't lose, keep it on your person at all times. Simplify.