You’re finally in the boat that everyone dreams about: it’s only a week before study abroad! You probably feel a nice mixture of pinch-me-please to how-am-I-going-to-get-everything-done emotions, and we would expect nothing less. We’re here to help you mitigate all of these last week feelings and checklists so you don’t have to stress about all of the things to do before going to study abroad!
We know that it probably seems like a never-ending list of things to do before studying abroad, but we promise it’s manageable! Let’s start by breaking it down to a week before study abroad and then down to a day before study abroad to get you on the best path to preparation!
A week before study abroad
Let the countdown officially begin! Wahoo! With only a week left before departure, let’s get you off on the right foot by crossing some important items off your to-do list. Be sure to do the following things before studying abroad:
1. Review your flight info
Double check that everything is correct and you have plenty of time during any layovers to get to where you need to be. Confirm that your transportation to the airport is in place, and make sure you have a back-up plan for getting to the airport in case of weather delays, car issues, or illness. Missing your flight is not exactly the best way to start your study abroad experience!
2. Confirm health insurance
You might not think that small, human details like health insurance are important when you’re flying high and about to have the adventure of a lifetime. We hate to burst your bubble, but it is. You might indulge in too much sangria one night and think it’s a good idea to play on the scaffolding outside of La Sagrada Familia. Or just get too advantageous with stilettos on cobblestone streets. You never know what will end you up in a foreign hospital, so make sure you’re covered for whatever tipsy/just stupid activities will occur.
3. Notify your bank
Your bank can’t read your mind, so if they start seeing transactions halfway across the world, that debit card is definitely getting shut off. There’s nothing worse than being in a foreign place and not having access to your dough, so be sure to let your bank know where you’ll be traveling to so they don’t assume it’s fraud!
4. Throw yourself a kickass party
Because why not. You’re heading out on the adventure of a lifetime and you deserve to be celebrated. Just make sure someone brings tissues for the end-of-the-night-sobfest that is sure to occur when you all say your hasta luegos.
5. Eat all the Chipotle you can stomach
Unless you’ll be studying abroad in Mexico, in which case, save your burrito appetite for the real deal. Don’t be afraid to gorge yourself on whatever types of food you think will be hard to find in your study abroad destination. If you’re from the US, think peanut butter. If you’re from Australia, think Tim Tams. You get the idea. Binge, baby, binge!
And then unpack and do it again. It might not seem like you’re bringing a lot when you have your clothes in neat little piles next to your suitcase, but trust us, you’ll definitely set aside way more than can humanly fit in a duffle. Give your packing a trial run WELL BEFORE the day you’re supposed to leave so you have time to rethink your strategy if need be. Beyond just not leaving things to the last minute, attempting to pack a week or so before you depart leaves time to buy anything you might be forgetting! (Like some space bags, maybe…)
The day before study abroad
The big day is almost here! Your list of things to do before going to study abroad should be quite short at this point, with just a few more “essentials” left to handle:
7. Try not to freak out
It’s totally normal to wake up on the day before departure and lose your mind. (At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.) Anyone who says they had a relaxing last day before studying abroad is LYING to you. It’s a lot to know that tomorrow you’re going to step off a plane in some foreign land with probably no familiar faces. We get it. But, keep reminding yourself that you’re doing this for a reason. Think about how much you’re bound to change while abroad, and how in just a short period of time you’ll go from not wanting to leave home to not wanting to return home. Turn those thoughts of namaste in bed to namaste in Paris in three months and the government/my parents can’t stop me. Feel better?
8. Hang out with your mom & dad
Or your brother, cousin, dads, step-grandma, cat, you name it. Soak up all that your favorite people (or pets) have to offer. Even if you’re totally confident and ready to get this show on the road, we promise you’ll feel homesick at some point during study abroad, so enjoy your closest relatives while you can (said in the least doomsday-way possible). The last moments you spend with a close relative or friend before you depart will be ones you’ll probably cherish forever, so make some time in your hectic last day home to just be together.
9. Check into your flight online
If you’re anything like 99% of first time study abroaders, you’re going to be a nervous wreck when you get to the airport. Help yourself out by doing any activities you can ahead of time, like checking into your flight online or through your airline’s app. Make sure you get that nice cozy window seat, and if you’re in a treat yo’ self mood, splurge on that $10 extra legroom row. Let’s start this journey off feeling like royalty. But not like too royal, we ain’t talkin first class here. Calm down with the credit card, Kate.
10. Get your carry-on ready
One less thing to worry about the morning you depart! You should be able to get pretty much everything but your toothbrush and phone packed the night before. Put together your emergency pair of clothes and anything else you’ll need in case the airline loses your checked luggage, and make sure you have your headphones, neck pillow, and any other in-flight comfort supplies!
11. Set aside your travel outfit
Again, the day you depart will be an emotional blur. Do yourself a favor and pick out your clothes the day before so you have one less thing to worry about as you’re rushing around to get to the airport on time. Don’t forget to take into consideration your start and end locations...even if it’s snowing when you leave Wisconsin, it probably won’t be snowing when you land in Ecuador!
12. Eat *one* more burrito
It’s fine if the same guy behind the counter at Chipotle has seen you there the past five days in a row. You’re doing this for the future probably a little tipsy, homesick, and hangry version of you. Give that future self something nice to look back on. If you don’t cherish memories of salsa and guacamole dripping down your face, are you even human?
The night before study abroad
At this point, your bag should be packed, most of your goodbyes should be said, and you should be well on your way to a relaxing last night at home. Kick back with your family, enjoy that last supper (sans dying), and make sure the final tiny little items are taken care of:
13. Charge your electronics
You don’t want to arrive at your destination, go to let your parents know you’re alive, and open your bag to a dead phone. Make sure all of your electronics are fully charged before leaving, including cameras, tablets, and power banks. Even though most airports have public outlets, don’t assume there won’t be a million other people waiting to use them!
14. TRIPLE CHECK that your passport is packed
You are nothing without that magical little booklet. Make absolutely certain that you have your passport, visa (if applicable), copies of both in separate places in case they’re stolen, and any other identifications you’ll need abroad. It’s always a good idea to bring your student ID from home and your driver’s license even if you don’t think you’ll need them...you never know when you and your new friends will want to spontaneously rent a car and drive to a neighboring country!
15. Sleep (at least try to)
Hahahaha. Yeah, we know. The night before you leave will probably be a pretty restless one, but rest assured knowing that sleeping is literally one of the last things to do before studying abroad! We know the pre-departure jitters are REAL, but you don’t want to be too tired to explore once you arrive at your destination!
And just like that, you’re off! The week or so before you leave for study abroad will go by in a flash, so beyond just bouncing from one to-do list to another, take some time to slow down and just enjoy this time in your life. While it might be stressful, what you’re preparing for is an exciting and hopefully life-changing adventure. Soak up the feelings of not knowing what’s ahead and being who you are right now because this will all change very soon. So, the last thing on your “things to do before studying abroad” checklist should be to say au revoir to your pre-study abroad self!