You’ve been accepted to study abroad—how exciting! Now what? Despite how excited you are for your upcoming time abroad, you are likely feeling nervous and unsure how to prepare. While there is no singular way to lessen anxiety related to this that will work for everyone, there are a few things you can do that can help.
A vital starting point is to research the country that you will be studying abroad in. The currency will be different, and not every place you go to will accept credit or debit cards. Locate at least one ATM that is walking distance from where you will be. Before you go, make sure to notify your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to prevent your cards from being frozen and unable to be used. Finally, it might be helpful to obtain some of the currency of the country prior to your flight abroad so you already have some cash on you.
It is also important to research the clothes that are considered acceptable in the country culturally as well as the weather so that you can pack appropriately. Depending on the country, the season might be the opposite of your home country or the country might typically go through a rainy season during a time you would expect it to be hot out every day. In addition, the culture of a country can dictate the clothes you should be packing. In some countries, there might be a dress code depending on what you are doing or where you are. For example, in Rome when you visit the Vatican and basilicas around the city, you will only be allowed to enter if your knees and shoulders are covered.
If you know the location of your housing and program, such as the campus your courses are located at or the building of the research lab you will be in, you can begin looking up how you will travel between the two. Knowing whether you will be able to walk or will have to take public transportation can help lessen your anxiety since you have the knowledge beforehand.
Having a good support system is also an important part to making the transition to studying abroad in a different country go more smoothly. This support system can be people from home, but should include people that will be in the same country as you. If there is a way to get in touch with the people that will be located in the same city and/or are participating in the same program as you, take advantage of it. A GroupMe was made by one of the girls that will be in London this summer, and all of us were invited to join so we could all have a way to reach each other. We also made a spreadsheet with all of our names, social media, contact information, and places we want to visit in Europe, the UK, and London specifically so that we can make plans with smaller groups once we are there. It is important to make connections with the people that you will be experiencing this with!
To gain insight of what studying abroad might be like, you can watch videos, or read stories of people's experiences in the country you will be located. Most importantly, allow yourself to be excited and don’t let your worries overshadow your excitement! Studying abroad is a time to meet new people, gain new experiences in a different place, and to learn and grow as a person.