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Preparing to Study Abroad: What You Don't Already Know

December 21, 2020
by Abby Vogel
SVQ alum abby vogel airport pic

Before you go abroad, people flood your mind with all of the “things” you HAVE to do before you embark on your amazing new journey. Visas, currency exchanges, and packing are certainly on the pre-study-abroad to-do list, but there are many things they don’t tell you. I’m here to tell you the things you don’t already know about how to prepare for studying abroad.

If you don’t wear it in the United States, chances are you will not wear it abroad.

Packing for a 4-month, 2-month, or yearlong journey can be quite the daunting task. You try your very best to pack as much as you can into your suitcase without going over the 50 lb. weight limit. However, I can promise you that you will not wear the cardigan from the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in two years. Pack basic items of clothing and things that you ACTUALLY wear. You will most likely shop in whatever study abroad location you are in, because foreign fashion is so much cooler.

Find a small journal that has a pen attached to it.

One of the best things I did for myself while I was abroad was writing in a journal every couple of days. Not only was it the perfect opportunity for me to reflect on my new life abroad, but it was another way to bring the memories home with me. Photos are great, but they don’t always capture your raw emotions in the way that journaling does. You will be extremely grateful that you documented your time, and all of the small things that you may have forgotten about as time goes on after your time abroad. Having a journal with a pen attached to it will leave no room for excuses not to journal. Also, make sure it’s small enough so it’s easy to travel with.

Have an open mind.

As you prepare for this wild new journey you’re about to embark on, keep in mind that you are going to have experiences you’ve never had before. You will see things that are beautiful, breathtaking, and even a little strange. Although it is smart to do research on your study abroad location, save some of it to experience for the first time. Don’t enter this experience with preconceived notions about things you HAVE to do, places you MUST travel to, or a food you will certainly NOT eat. Embrace the new and keep your mind open to ALL experiences. Once you are abroad, it is a whole new ball game -- but in the best way!

Abby Vogel is the Spring 2020 Alumni Ambassador in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
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