This post is the second for my experience with the 2nd annual Global Engagement Day at OU. I wanted to share my top tips for preparing to study abroad!
- Plan ahead! Especially when it comes to course credits. Know what you are eligible for, and, if at all possible, pre-equate your credits. This little bit of preparation will save you a big headache when you get back and will make sure you don’t get behind because something didn’t count the way you thought it would.
- Use websites like Kayak, Skyscanner, or TripAdvisor to find the best deal on a flight, but I would recommend booking the flight directly from the airline’s website. That way if there is a delay or cancellation, the airline’s customer service will be responsible for helping you. Depending on the fine print of a third party booking, the airline may not automatically put you on a later flight, put you up in a hotel if you are stranded overnight, etc.
- Lay out everything you want to bring, then pack half that. Even better, let that sit overnight and then take another third of it away. You really will be surprised at how little you need while abroad, especially on a short trip. You could usually buy anything you forget in most circumstances, and you’ll thank yourself for every ounce you left at home when you are lugging your bags through the airport/public transport/carrying it up flights of stairs/etc.
- Don’t forget your power adapter! Outside of an international airport, it might be hard to find an adapter to plug your electrical cords from the US into a different type of outlet. Residents in your destination country don’t need such a device, so it’s probably not something that will be sold in normal stores. In addition, make sure you bring an adapter that is also a voltage converter so that you don’t fry your devices while trying to recharge.
- Speaking of electricity, any small electrical appliances- fans, hairdryers, straighteners, curling irons, etc.- are probably better to buy in your destination country than to bring from home. They are more likely to have issues with different voltages, even if you have a converter.
- Bring some comforts of home. If you have something here at home that brings you comfort, joy or makes you feel safe, it might be worth bringing along. Culture shock and homesickness can creep up out of nowhere.
- At the same time, try your best to engage with the culture around you. Don’t get caught up in watching Netflix all day or only hang out with other Americans. The more you immerse yourself in a new culture or language, the more you’ll get out of your experience.
- Journal. Journal. Journal. You might think that there’s no possible way you’ll forget the memories you’re making. But, it’s crazy how fast the little details fade. Plus, there’s nothing better than being able to look back on your journal to be reminded of a small moment. It sounds cheesy, but that journal will be your most important souvenir.