Humans are instinctively curious about the world at large. A survey conducted by Gallup interviewed adults from 146 countries between 2008 and 2010, and found that an estimated 630 million people around the world wanted to move abroad if they got an opportunity to do so.
The people, culture, and languages of other countries often inspire a wondrous, lifelong pursuit of the world at large. Which is perhaps one of the reasons so many universities and colleges have study-abroad programs.
These immersions are incredibly effective for learning to adapt to challenging environments, make lifelong connections, and experience life in a foreign country (even for those who have vacationed overseas in the past).
Alas, moving overseas can be a difficult task. Once you’ve decided to study abroad, chosen a country to move to, and been accepted into the program, the planning and preparation begin. Here are some tips and tricks to make the move as painless as possible.
Embrace a love of lists
There’s going to be a lot to do. Most important: What to pack? What can be purchased overseas and what needs to come along for the ride? Because of the difference in electrical power grids, you’ll need a converter or perhaps new electronics.
Your university / college program should have some tips and checklists to get you started on the forms and processes for applying for a passport and visa. Depending on the country, additional vaccinations may be required.
Next, are you responsible for finding lodging? Or is that arranged by the program? This question will make a big difference in what needs to packed and possibly shipped.
Arm yourself with knowledge. Travel books are a great place to start because they include maps, suggestions, best practices, and a plethora of other useful information.
If you plan on vacationing and traveling during your stay abroad, invest in travel guides for those regions as well. They can help you make the most of your time and money so you experience and see as much as possible.
Arriving in a foreign country with some idea of the culture, customs, history, and language will make it much easier to adapt. Plus, it’s a big green light to the people of your host country. Showcasing a willingness to learn and a respect for their customs will earn a lot of patience and support as you navigate a new country.
Traveling requires a lot of moving, often quickly to maneuver through airports, train stations, buses, and even sidewalks. Excess luggage can seriously impede your progress while getting from point A to point B. It can also make you a target for the less savory characters along the journey. Like pickpockets.
Even with a detailed packing list to minimize the hassle, the cost and convenience of shipping is a smart option. After all, the airline is going to charge fees to move your goods. And that luggage will not get delivered to your new home.
Lugging it from airport is up to you. But be forewarned that it can be a remarkably long haul, including a variety of transports. If there are stops along the way, remember that many hotels and hostels overseas don’t have elevators; they have lots and lots of stairs.
Making the decision to study abroad is exciting and life-changing. But it’s also a major undertaking that requires careful planning to avoid logistical nightmares that can tarnish your enjoyment of the adventure — especially right at the beginning! Make your planning count and be practical about what your ultimate goal is: to have the experience of a lifetime!