How To Prepare For Study Abroad In 2024 (Includes Checklist)

The wing of an airplane flying over a body of water.

Are you wondering how to prepare for study abroad and feeling overwhelmed by the thought of all the preparations? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Today we’ll dive into the essential steps you need to take before embarking on your study abroad journey. From documentation to health and safety, finances, communication, and packing we’ll cover it all.

As someone who has personally experienced the transformative power of studying abroad, I can assure you that it’s a life-changing adventure. I still remember the excitement of preparing for my own semester in Italy, where every piece of information felt crucial. I devoured others’ experiences, meticulously typed up notes and documents, and may have gone a little overboard in my enthusiasm.

But fret not! This blog post is here to guide you through the process, whether you’re a student or a parent supporting your child’s journey. I’ll provide you with my advice to make your study abroad preparations a breeze. So, let’s embark on this exciting journey together and ensure you’re fully prepared for study abroad!

You can continue reading to grab my FREE Study Abroad Departure Checklist later on. It includes everything I go over here in this post. You can print it and check it off as you complete the items or you can grab it now here!

This page has affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you click and make a purchase at no cost to you.

“I was surprised…by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility”

– Jack Kerouac (MORE STUDY ABROAD QUOTES HERE)

Let’s Go Over Everything You Need To Do To Prepare For Study Abroad

Documentation and Logistics

A travel planner and resources on a table next to a cup of coffee.

Passport and Visa: It is crucial to ensure that your passport remains valid throughout the entire duration of your study abroad program. Additionally, don’t forget to obtain the necessary visa for your destination. These documents play a vital role in ensuring a smooth entry and stay in the foreign country. I was grateful that my home school handled the visa part for me!

Acceptance Letter: Make sure to keep a printed or digital copy of your acceptance letter from the host institution. This letter serves as proof of your enrollment and may be required for administrative purposes during your stay. Having it readily available will help you navigate through any necessary processes smoothly.

Flight Details: When booking your flights, it is recommended to use reliable websites. Be sure to save the itinerary on your phone or print it for easy reference. Having your flight information easily accessible will enable you to navigate travel arrangements with ease and minimize any potential stress.

Health Insurance: It is very important to verify that you have adequate health insurance coverage for the entire duration of your stay abroad. Accidents or unforeseen circumstances can happen at any time, and having proper medical coverage will provide you with peace of mind and necessary support during your time abroad.

Here are 43 Study Abroad Bucket List Items To Try While Abroad!

Health and Safety

A seat in an airplane with a magazine in it.

Health Check-up: Prior to your trip, make sure to schedule a comprehensive medical check-up and obtain any necessary vaccinations based on the requirements of your destination. This will help ensure that you are in good health and prepared for any potential health risks you may encounter. During my check-up, I learned I was Vitamin D deficient and was able to bring up my levels before leaving.

Prescriptions: If you are currently taking any medication, it is crucial to ensure that you have an ample supply to last for the entire duration of your trip. Make sure to refill your prescriptions in advance and carry them in their original packaging. Additionally, it is advisable to obtain a doctor’s note detailing your medical condition and the prescribed medications, especially if you are traveling internationally.

Emergency Contacts: It is important to have quick access to emergency assistance while abroad. Save the local emergency numbers of your destination country, including the police, fire department, and ambulance services. Additionally, keep the contact details of your study abroad coordinator or program leader readily available in case of any academic or administrative emergencies.

Lastly, don’t forget to note down the contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate in case of any major emergencies or issues that require the assistance of your home country’s representatives.

Check Out The 43 Best Gifts For Study Abroad Students!

Finances

A cup of coffee sits on a table in front of a bridge.

Budget: Creating a comprehensive budget is crucial for effectively managing your study abroad expenses. Consider including categories such as tuition, accommodation, food, travel, and entertainment.

By planning ahead and setting realistic financial goals, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. I was able to save 6k before leaving abroad by delivering pizzas and using this money to go on 6 study abroad weekend trips, plus get me by while not traveling!

Currency: Take the time to familiarize yourself with the local currency of your study abroad destination. It is advisable to carry a small amount of the local currency with you for initial expenses upon arrival. Additionally, research the best ways to exchange currency and be aware of any associated fees or charges.

Banking: Before you embark on your study abroad journey, make sure to notify your bank about your travel dates. This will help prevent any issues with your debit or credit cards while you are abroad. Also, ask about the bank’s policies and fees for using your cards overseas. It may be beneficial to consider obtaining a card specifically designed for international use to minimize transaction fees.

Check Out These 6 Study Abroad Weekend Trips On A Budget!

Communication

A woman is sitting on a ledge next to a building.

Communication Apps: Download popular messaging apps at your destination to stay connected with friends and family. These apps make it easy to chat, make voice and video calls, and share photos and videos, ensuring you don’t miss out on important moments. The most popular one is WhatsApp.

Making lifelong friends while in your program is a study abroad bucket list item and you’ll want to keep in touch with them during and after your stay! You can use these apps to form connections with the people you meet.

SIM Card/Phone Plan: To stay in touch with loved ones back home, consider getting a local SIM card or an international phone plan. With a local SIM card, you can enjoy affordable local rates for calls, texts, and data. Alternatively, an international phone plan offers seamless connectivity across multiple countries, ensuring you’re always reachable.

Before we continue I made a FREE printable on how to prepare to study abroad. It includes everything I go over in this post but this way you can check the items off as you complete them. You can download it when signing up for my email list.

Packing

A woman posing with her luggage in an airport.

Clothing: Ensure that you pack suitable clothing for the local climate. Research the weather conditions of your destination and pack accordingly. Also, take into account any cultural dress norms or customs that may exist in the area you’ll be visiting. By being mindful of these factors, you can dress appropriately and respectfully. One of my study abroad regrets was that I didn’t pack properly and suffered from it.

Essentials: Don’t overlook the importance of toiletries, medications, and a small first aid kit. Remember to pack all the necessary personal care items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and any prescription medications you may require. Additionally, having a basic first aid kit with items like band-aids, antiseptic ointment, and pain relievers can come in handy during unexpected situations. There are several study abroad essentials that will come in handy!

Electronics: In this digital age, it’s essential to bring along the necessary electronic devices and accessories. Don’t forget to pack your chargers, power adapters, and voltage converters if needed. This will ensure that you can stay connected and powered up throughout your trip.

Important Documents: Organize and carry physical and digital copies of important documents. These may include your passport, visa, IDs, acceptance letter (if applicable), and insurance details. It’s always a good idea to have both physical copies and digital backups to be prepared for study abroad. Keep them in a safe and easily accessible place, such as a travel document organizer or a secure cloud storage service.

These Are My 2 Study Abroad Regrets, Read Them Before Leaving!

Academic Preparation

A large cathedral with people walking in front of it.

Course Materials: Prior to your departure, make sure to check if there are any course-specific materials or textbooks that you need to bring along. Having all the necessary resources will help you stay organized and fully engaged in your studies.

Elective Selection: If applicable, it is important to finalize your course selection before you leave. Take the time to review the available electives and choose the ones that align with your academic goals and interests. This will ensure that you make the most out of your educational experience.

One of my study abroad cons was having a packed schedule every day, as an introvert this was exhausting. So my advice is to try not to overdo it with classes and keep enough free time for self-care!

Laptop and Software: To support your academic work, ensure that you have a functional laptop with the required software. This will allow you to access course materials, participate in online discussions, and complete assignments efficiently. It is advisable to check the compatibility of the software with your laptop beforehand to avoid any technical difficulties.

I struggled with this problem as I found out during class that my computer did not have enough power for the software we needed for our final project. I had to eventually borrow another classmate’s laptop just to get my work done!

These Are The 6 Pros and Cons Of Studying Abroad!

Cultural and Language Preparation

A woman standing in an ornate room with paintings on the walls.

Learn Basic Phrases: Take the time to familiarize yourself with essential local phrases to ease communication. Knowing basic greetings, expressions, and common words can go a long way in connecting with locals and navigating your destination.

Cultural Etiquette: Prior to your trip, research and gain an understanding of the cultural norms and etiquette of your destination. Each culture has its own customs and traditions, and being aware of them will help you show respect and avoid unintentional offense.

Learn about appropriate dress codes, greetings, gestures, and dining etiquette to ensure a smooth and respectful interaction with the local community. Here’s a tip if you’re studying abroad in Europe it’s respectful to not show your knees or shoulders when going into churches.

Want Tips For Studying Abroad in Europe? Read This!

Social and Personal Considerations

A narrow alleyway with a church in the background.

Social Media: To keep your family and friends updated on your time abroad, consider using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. Sharing your highlights and even struggles with them through these platforms will not only help them stay connected with you but also provide a sense of security.

It’s always beneficial to keep your loved ones informed about your whereabouts, especially in case of emergencies or unexpected situations. My family loved it whenever I posted what I did for the day and kept me going throughout my studies knowing they were proud of me.

Storage Options: If you need to store your personal belongings while you’re away, it’s a good idea to arrange for storage back home. Look for reliable storage facilities or consider asking a trusted friend or family member if they can help. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your belongings are safe and secure while you’re traveling. Make sure to label and organize your items properly before storing them to make retrieval easier when you return.

FAQs

How do I start studying abroad?

Planning to study abroad involves several steps. First, research the best places to study abroad to find a program that aligns with your academic goals. Once you’ve chosen a program, check the admission requirements and deadlines. Prepare necessary documents, such as transcripts and letters of recommendation.

If accepted, secure your student visa, arrange for accommodation, and plan for living expenses. Before leaving, learn about the host country’s culture and language to facilitate smoother integration. It’s also advisable to keep your family and friends updated through social media and ensure safe storage for your belongings back home.

How much money do you need to save to study abroad?

The amount of money you need to save to study abroad varies greatly depending on the country and city where you’ll be studying, the duration of your program, your personal lifestyle, and whether you receive financial aid or scholarships. On average, students should budget for $10,000 to $15,000 per semester.

This figure includes tuition, accommodation, meals, travel expenses, and personal expenses. However, this is an estimate and the actual costs can be lower or higher. It’s essential to research the cost of living in your destination country and plan your budget accordingly.

Don’t Leave Without Your Study Abroad Pre-Departure Printable Checklist!

Final Thoughts-

I hope this helps answer the questions on how to prepare for study abroad. Making sure all necessary documentation is in order, getting your health checked out, and researching safety information, are essential steps. Additionally, managing finances effectively, exploring communication options, and packing wisely are other important steps toward a successful experience.

Drawing from my own expertise in studying abroad in Italy, I can attest to the importance of going the extra mile with preparations. By taking these necessary steps and being well-prepared, you can make the most of your study abroad experience and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy exploring!

Kaylee Janell's signature

Read More About Studying Abroad!

43 Easy Study Abroad Bucket List Items To Do This Year!

43 Best Study Abroad Gifts For Students

Here Are My Top 2 Study Abroad Regrets: Don’t Do The Same!

6 Ultimate Study Abroad Weekend Trips On A Budget!

The Surprisingly Top 6 Studying Abroad Pros And Cons

How To Prepare For Study Abroad (Includes Checklist)

Best 15 Tips For Studying Abroad In Europe

The Best 50 Inspiring Quotes About Studying Abroad!

The Best Places In Europe To Study Abroad: Told By Students!

A comprehensive guide on how to prepare for study abroad, ensuring a successful and enriching international education experience.

What Are My Recommended Resources For Planning A Trip?

When planning my trip, I use my trusted trio of CheapOair, Viator, and Booking.com to provide a comprehensive solution for everything I need.

CheapOair is a go-to resource for affordable flight tickets. With its extensive network of over 600 airlines, it offers a wide array of choices, enabling you to easily compare prices and select the best deal that suits your budget and travel schedule.

Viator on the other hand, is an excellent platform for booking tours and activities. It provides access to thousands of sightseeing tours, attractions, and events in over 1,500 locations worldwide. It ensures you don’t miss out on the unique experiences each destination has to offer.

Booking.com is your reliable partner for accommodations. With over 28 million listings including hotels, apartments, and hostels, you can find the perfect place to stay that fits your budget and preference.

Together, these platforms make trip planning convenient, cost-effective, and fun. They ensure you have everything you need, from flights and accommodations to activities – at your fingertips.

Check Out My Resources Page For All My Recommended Travel Tools!

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