Bon Voyage: What You Should Know Before Studying Abroad

In almost two weeks, I’ll be leaving the great United States and heading over seas to try my tongue at Greek.

Aside from my mounting excitement and enthusiasm at my first trip to Europe, I’ve now had the time to reflect on the entire preparation process as a whole.

As I reflect, there are a couple things I wish I knew and hope you know before considering to study abroad in college.

Start Early

They will advise you to start the process as early as possible and I can’t tell you how important that is. There are a number of people you must talk to and situations you can’t see arising until you get farther along in the process.

I met with a study abroad advisor my first week of the Fall semester and I still have a list of things to accomplish and take care of before I leave. This includes finishing my student visa application.

For instance, my official acceptance letter, which is needed to obtain my student visa, was lost in the mail and sent to my parent’s address instead of my school one. Thus, I was forced to go through a series of communications with the school I’m studying at to ensure the arrival of a new acceptance letter.

Other instances to consider are doctor’s appointments, notarized statements and several meetings with your advisors.

Check Degree Audit

Most students study abroad their sophomore or junior year of college. This is right about the time when you begin taking classes for your major or finish up the majority of your prerequisites and general education requirements.

Before committing to any one program, make sure you’ll be able to transfer the majority, if not all of your classes to your current university or college. Emailing the international students coordinator or department head at your respective foreign school and asking about course information for the planned semester is a good place to start.

Also, it’s possible the school has tentative course offerings for the following semester posted on their website. Check what classes you need to take by looking at your degree audit and reading the descriptions of the ones you plan to take. Run these by your advisor to make sure they will transfer.

Fees and Payment

You can estimate a fair amount of the price before you leave, but you won’t expect all the small fees for processing, bags and possible permits and visas you’ll need before leaving.

For instance, when I arrive in Greece I must purchase a residential permit because I’ll be living in the Schengen region for a period more than 90 days. This requires a purchase of Greek medical insurance, a physical examination from a Greek hospital, and a deposit of 500 euro into a Greek bank account.

Every program is different, but you should plan on spending 20%-40% more than estimated when planning finances

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Lawrence Mack

Lawrence Mack

Lawrence Mack is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in English. When he’s not exercising, eating, reading, writing short stories, or scouring the web, Lawrence is contributing to other blogs. An avid Harry Potter fan, self-proclaimed StumbleUpon and YouTube addict, and underrated when it comes to taking naps, Lawrence is looking forward to studying abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece over the Spring Semester of 2012.