Friday, January 4, 2013

How to make study abroad happen...

This is the first post of a new series about the study abroad process! My hard work is just about pay off and I will actually be in Rome in 4 days! I want to share with everyone how I made this opportunity possible!

For this first post, I am going to give everyone a general overview of the process. I would start at least 8 months before you want to study abroad. So, if you want to study abroad in the spring, start this process the summer before. If you want to study abroad in the fall, start the process the spring before.

1) Get a passport!
2) Go to your school's study abroad website and figure out what city you want to study abroad in
3) There are A LOT of options: your school's programs, outside provider programs (API, ISA, AIFS, etc.), so you should narrow your choice down to 2 or 3 programs and then explore their websites. Figure out what is most important to you in a program (More detailed post to come)!
4) Make a meeting with a study abroad advisor and find out which program you want to do.
5) Next, figure out all of your due dates (your school's and your program's) and then write them down in your calendar!
6) If you have any financial aid or loans, you should go to your financial aid office and talk to them about how you are going to pay for your program.

Once the semester before you want to go abroad begins!

7) Start your application. If you are applying for a program outside your school, you are probably going to have to apply to your program and then also apply to study abroad through your school.
8) Get your courses pre approved so you know that you will be getting the credits you need with the classes you want to take.
9) Finish your application and turn all of your application paperwork in.

Once you're accepted into your program! 
*If your school/program offers a mentor program, I would highly recommend participating in it!*

10) Start the visa process! **WARNING** Getting a visa is going to be terrible! While you are doing it, it will seem like it isn't worth it but it is (More detailed post to come)!
11) Turn in your post-acceptance forms (getting insurance in your host-country, housing, course scheduling, meal plan if offered, etc).
12) Buy your plane ticket (make sure you know when your program wants you to be there, date and time)
13) Figure out if you want to bring a mobile phone with you, if you want a data plan, if your program offers you one, or if you want to wait until you get to your host-city to get a phone  (More detailed post to come)!
14) Make a weekly budget. Make sure you have enough money including any loan refunds and/or get a credit card for security (More detailed post to come)!
15) If you live on-campus while at your home university, make sure you withdraw from your housing and meal plan.
16) Make sure you go to any doctor's, dentist's, and eye-doctor's appointments before you leave. Make sure you get enough contacts, prescriptions, etc. for the amount of time you are going to be gone.

Weeks before you go!

17) Check the airline you're flying with website and see what your luggage allowance is and then practice packing.
18) Get dollars switched to euros (I got enough for my first month so I didn't have to worry about it right when I arrived in my host-city).
19) Do last minute pre-departure forms, online orientation, and if necessary fill out your permission to stay online form.
20) MAKE COPIES!! Make copies of your passport, visa, credit cards, debit cards, health insurance card, student ID, driver's license, etc. Give copies to your parents to keep in your house while you are gone and make multiple copies for yourself that you can put in each bag.

 Keep in mind that each school is different, each program is different, and each person is different so your check list might differ from mine, but if you follow these steps you will be on the right track to make your study abroad dreams come true!!


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