Two Roads Diverged - The Most Important Things To Do Before Studying Abroad - Part 2

Samantha Katsikas Bond University, Australia


September 6, 2019
Currently Studying at: Bond University, Australia
Homeschool: Arcadia University

Although I do not have a unique and inviting intro to this weeks post, and part 2 of my first ever post for Arcadia, I will say that I want to share two of my favorite quotes inspires me before I embark on any overseas trip, and hope that it will also bring you some inspiration.

“Keep your face always towards the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.” - Walt Whitman

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” - Robert Frost

They remind me that even if I am not doing what everyone else is doing, and may not seem like the right decision, that if I keep moving forward the sunshine in my face and the shadows behind me, I will always be alright.

Make A Packing List

UGHHHH the dreaded packing list! Those are two words that I hate to see together because I am someone who packs in their head, meaning I just make the list in my head check it off and move on. But 99% of the time, I forget things and a lot of times it is actually important stuff like contacts or camera chargers. Then, it isn't until I am already off a seven-hour flight that it finally clicks that I am going to be in big trouble the next five weeks! If you can't already tell, I still think about what happened to me when I spent five weeks abroad in France. So don’t be me, and make a packing list. 

I typically start this process about a month in advance due to my forgetfulness on important things and the lack of time I leave myself a few days before I leave to even begin to think about what I am bringing. 

  1. So, get out a pen and paper or your computer and start a new page labeled “Packing List for [insert country or state]” and begin. Not too hard, right? 
  2. Categorize it such as clothes, toiletries, electronics, school supplies, etc. and start writing down everything that comes to your mind. You’ll have a large list in no time. 
  3. Then print it out, or keep it on your computer to highlight, cross out or write notes on so that when it comes time to leave you have double and triple checked you have everything you need. 

No more forgetting contacts, camera chargers or shoes ever again! It is just important to remember that you know yourself better than anyone and giving yourself the right amount of time to prepare is essential in any trip, long or short, far or near.

Take What You Can’t Live Without

Studying abroad can be a difficult experience for people who have never gone farther from home than a few hours by plane or have never left the country or been on a trip at all before or for longer than a week. It can be even more challenging when you are traveling around the world to a new country with just you and your suitcase. 

I am going to be in Australia in less than two weeks and for me, that is a new place and the farthest I’ll be from home for more than just a week. So I have been having trouble deciding what it is that I want to bring with me that will make the other side of the world feel like home. I have done some soul searching and narrowed it down to one thing: take things that are your favorites. You can say “take what you can’t live without” but I can’t live without my ten favorite pairs of shoes and my five favorite pairs of jeans. So saying that might not help reduce the packing list, or the absolutely need list.

As I have mentioned above there are a lot of things I can't live without but there are fewer things (smaller things) that are my absolute favorite and I know for a fact I won't be able to find in Australia. So here are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to deduce those “favorite things” :

*Australia is an example, fill in your country!

  • Will I be able to find this brand or product in Australia?
  • Does this shirt or pants match with more than three things in my already selected clothing items?
  • If I were to forget this on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 you would turn the car around) how angry would I be?
  • What are the three things or shoes I wear the most?
  • How many times will I use this? (i.e. camera, shoes, shirt, pants, etc.)

There are many more questions you can ask yourself, but start with these and see where it takes you! I know for sure there are certain clothing items and shoes that I cannot live without, but there are many other things that are important to bring to make it feel like home. Such as pictures, my cameras, lights and my specific shampoo and conditioner that I know for sure they do not sell in Australia.

Be Open-Minded - “Try Everything” Mindset

It wasn’t until I went to China on Spring Break Preview through Arcadia that I realized how open-minded I had been in the past when traveling abroad. I had never been anywhere as “exotic” as China, especially not when it came to food, so when it came to trying new things I was quite hesitant. As someone who is a strong advocate against animal “food” farms and animal abuse in general, I was well accustomed to the horror stories of people being fed cat and dog in Asian countries. As much as I wanted to put it in the back of my mind I felt somewhat relieved after I did some research and talked to my professor. But before we left I had to get myself out of the mindset of dog meat farms and into the mindset of “try everything”. That’s just what I did.

I don’t count myself as someone who is a picky eater; I tend to eat everything that sits in front of me besides fatty meat and okra. But I feel as if that is more common than not wanting to eat fish or lamb. I know that Australia is not as “exotic” in the food department as China is but I think it is just as important to look up different foods and prepare yourself for anything and everything. No matter where you go always go in with the “try everything” or the “yes man” method and you won't regret it.

Keep in mind that everything you try you aren't going to absolutely love, and that's okay! That goes for not only food but everything whether it be surfing, hiking in the forests or swimming with jellyfish in the ocean. As long as you can say you tried it there is no harm in disliking it.

So as long as you do your research, make a packing list, read up on your country, are open to new things, and find out what you can’t live without your time abroad will be amazing!

Cheers, Samantha K.

P.S. Enjoy some pictures from my first few days down unda!