A Student Guide to Studying Abroad

I had the opportunity to study abroad in Itlay during college, immersing myself in architecture, art, and city planning for 90 days. I put together this student guide to studying abroad because I know it is an experience that will reshape your perspective and leave you yearning for more.

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For those yearning to be fully prepared for their study abroad adventure, I’ll unravel the secrets behind why you should take the leap, what to pack for the journey ahead, and how to overcome the challenges that may accompany your time away from home.

The uncertainties of not knowing what lies ahead, the bittersweet return home, and the daunting task of selecting the right program are common dilemmas that I aim to guide you through. Reflecting on my own transformative journey, I was uncertain about it at first but now I find myself contemplating returning to school for my master’s degree just to relive the magic.

I understand the mix of emotions and decisions that come with studying abroad. If you’re a college student eagerly eyeing the opportunity to study abroad, this post is your compass to navigate the exciting, sometimes daunting, but ultimately rewarding path that awaits you. Get ready to broaden your horizons and seize the chance to create unforgettable memories!

Why Study Abroad

Personal Growth Opportunities

Studying abroad offers a plethora of personal development opportunities. For me, it was about stepping outside my comfort zone and cultivating independence. The experience is immersive, and you’re likely to find yourself more self-reliant and confident. As well as discover aspects of your personality that you might not have known in the familiar confines of home.

Cultural Immersion and Language Skills

Unlike learning a language from textbooks, being surrounded by it every day is the most effective way to enhance your linguistic abilities. Your study abroad time is the best time for real-world applications. Not only did I return from my program with a much-improved grasp of Italian, but I also adopted mannerisms and spoke with a visible enthusiasm that seemed only natural in the setting.

Golden Ticket to Your Career

The international exposure you gain while studying abroad is a major boost for your career’s resume. Employers often seek candidates who possess a diverse skill set that includes intercultural communication and adaptability, traits that are inherently associated with a study abroad experience.

What To Pack for Abroad

The art of packing for a study abroad program is one that requires careful thought. A versatile wardrobe that caters to different climates and occasions is indispensable. You’ll want to make sure you have all of your study abroad essentials with you. Before leaving, I watched countless YouTube videos on ‘packing for studying abroad,’ which immensely helped me streamline my packing.

Organizing Important Documents

Securing the right documents like your passport, visa, health insurance, and any necessary transcripts is the logistical base for your adventure. Safeguarding these throughout your travel will ensure a smooth experience. I kept a color-coded folder system for documents, with photocopies on hand both physically and digitally.

Tech Provisions Abroad

In this digital age, we rely heavily on technology. Adapters, voltage converters, and country-specific tech concerns are essential to address before departure. I learned the importance of maintaining an international SIM card for communication, which not only kept me in touch but also made domestic travel within Europe incredibly cost-effective.

Health and Wellness on the Go

Keeping yourself healthy and emotionally balanced is non-negotiable. Besides the obvious health precautions, I always had a small first aid kit tailored to my personal needs. Simple preventative health measures such as regular vitamins and probiotics can help strengthen your immunity against unfamiliar foods and environments.

Choosing the Right Program for You

Understanding Your Academic Needs

Selecting the right study program is pivotal for your guide to studying abroad. Evaluate if your program matches your educational goals. For me, the ability to take courses that were credited with my home institution was a significant draw.

Considering Location and Culture

Location matters when considering a study abroad program. Think about what cultural attributes are most intriguing to you. I had been infatuated with Italy’s rich art scene and cuisine. My guide to studying abroad led me to choose a program that had me based in Central Italy, at the heart of the Renaissance, a decision I never regretted.

Researching and Applying to Programs

The Internet is full of platforms and forums where past students share their experiences, offering a guide to studying abroad. Utilize this resource, researching not only each program but also the experiences of those who have participated. This could broaden your perspective and might offer valuable insights.

Financing Your Study Abroad

Undoubtedly, studying abroad can be expensive. However, there are a variety of scholarships, grants, and financial aid that you can explore to fund your trip. I was fortunate enough to prepare and save well in advance by taking on a part-time job before leaving. This helped to offset personal expenses and be able to truly immerse myself in the Italian way of life.

Checking off Your Study Abroad Bucket List

Creating a study abroad bucket list before departing opens up a world of possibilities, encouraging you to dream big and set personal goals for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It serves not only as a guide to ensuring you make the most out of your time abroad but also helps in prioritizing experiences that truly matter to you.

Sights and Landmarks

Visiting famous landmarks isn’t just about ticking items off your list, it’s about connecting with a place’s history and the stories it holds. I made sure to witness the grandeur of the Colosseum in Rome and the serene beauty of The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Local Traditions and Festivals

Participate in local celebrations to truly feel part of a community. On my first weekend, I happened to land in Italy during the kite festival in my local town, and the experience was like no other, the sky was filled with bright kites everywhere.

Gastronomic Exploration

Food is a profound expression of culture, and tasting local cuisine is a must. I still remember my first taste of authentic gelato. Don’t be afraid to try new flavors and dishes, it’s all part of the experience. Keep track of your culinary adventures by creating a food journal or taking photos to share with your loved ones back home.

Language Learning on the Ground

Mastering the local language, or even just some key phrases, significantly enhances your travel experience. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, locals will appreciate your efforts and may even

help you improve. I found that taking a short language course before leaving was incredibly helpful and allowed me to connect with other students.

Overcoming Study Abroad Obstacles

The Challenge of Homesickness

Homesickness is a hurdle faced by many who study abroad. Combat it by staying connected with family and friends while forging new, supportive relationships with classmates and locals. A weekly video call became a cherished tradition that kept my spirits high.

Navigating Language Barriers

Being unable to effectively communicate can be frustrating, but it’s also a chance to learn and grow. Carry a pocket dictionary or use translation apps, and don’t be afraid to use gestures or find other creative ways to make yourself understood. Also, try finding language exchange programs or conversation partners to practice with.

Financial Hurdles and Budgeting

Financial management can be a juggling act, especially when dealing with another currency. I relied heavily on budgeting tools and apps to ensure I didn’t overspend. But remember, some experiences are worth the splurge, so don’t be too strict with your budget and allow yourself to make memories.

Cultivating A Supportive Community Abroad

Finding a network is fundamental to your well-being. I was lucky to study in a program with other students from my hometown. Together, we navigated the peculiarities of our new environment and built lasting friendships. Reach out to your classmates, join clubs and organizations, and take part in cultural events, these are all great ways to form connections with others.

The Return Journey Home

Re-adjusting to Life Back Home

Arriving home can feel like a mix of emotions, such as relief, joy, and perhaps a twinge of sadness that the adventure has come to an end. I combated the feeling by reflecting on all that had transpired and reminding myself that the experience had indelibly changed me. Take time to readjust and appreciate the familiarity of home.

Leveraging Your Abroad Experience

The skills and perspectives you gain while studying abroad are invaluable and can greatly enhance your personal and professional growth. As you continue on your journey, remember to stay inspired by some of these study abroad motivations and apply what you have learned to your everyday life.

Staying Connected with Your Global Web

The friendships and connections you’ve made abroad are precious. Stay in touch, and build a network across the globe. Thanks to modern communication tools, distance is no barrier to maintaining international friendships.


Ending this guide to studying abroad, I will tell you it is both an adventure and a learning curve. By prepping thoroughly, approaching each day with an open mind, and taking full advantage of what the world has to offer, you’ll develop into a more worldly, resilient individual.

It’s an experience that doesn’t just enhance your education but transforms your life in ways you couldn’t have imagined. I can attest to that because my study abroad time was a turning point that I cherish to this day.

Now, it’s your turn to grab that global education by the horns and make your unforgettable mark on the world.

Happy exploring!

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