Dear Future Study Abroad students & Travelers,
This is a work in progress (please forgive that!), but it’ll slowly grow into the best preparation document you could find 🙂 I wanted to share my experience & ideas with you while you’re preparing for one of the best adventures you will have in your life!
Again, it’ll be updated when I get time, and of COURSE I welcome any feedback and ideas. Lets help everyone have the best experience possible! Thank you!
A new country. Another language. New culture. Different food. And of course, distinctive dental work.
Distinctive to the perfectly, straight, bright & shiny, uniform smiles that us Americans get quite used to.
Are you getting ready for your Study Abroad experience?
Are you throwing clothes around you room and giddy with excitement? Has your Mom had it with you trying to invent your own Spanish tapas, or Costa Rican Gallo Pinto?
What to do…how to prepare….ways to organize.
First, stop & breathe! You are going to another country, and that is amazing! What a great gift that is to be one of the lucky people to get to jump on a plane and explore another world.
Alright, now here are some ideas & thoughts to help you get ready & prepared!
Get Prepared & stay excited!
– There will be paperwork. Get used to it. But any required forms, signatures & fees are ALL totally, and completely worth it. I’m just prepping you in advanced so you don’t let any unfriendly Financial Aid office people get you down, or deadlines stress you out. Keep yourself motivated by learning as much as you can about your country. When you have a free minute or two, read books, listen to music of your host country, online articles, Sol Education Abroad Country Handbooks, watch videos set in the country you’re going, and the Travel Channel! Never underestimate it’s power.
Here are a few examples of things that really helped fuel me prior to going (and help settle me back into the States upon return are):
Literature & Guides: Lonely Planet, Hostel World, Rough Guides, Mood Guides & Let’s Go!
– Shoe String Budget Guides (Lonely Planet)
Rick Steeves, Fodor’s & Frommer’s!
Off the beaten path Travel Guide: Vice Guide to Travel! “Dangerous, weird, and offbeat locations throughout the globe” – Now doesn’t that sound intriguing?
Movies: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Spain), Motorcycle Diaries (South America)
Music: Rodrigo & Gabriela (Spanish influence), La Vida Buena ATX (Salsa & Latin influence),
Trip & Inspiration and Ideas:
– Guide Book Sites! – See above.
– Google: Independent Travel
– VirtualTourist.com (tons of insights & tips!)
– Independenttraveler.com (great review of all materials for travelers!)
– Women-on-the-road.com (catered for female travelers).
– GoNomad.com (Go! And don’t come back….Just kidding! Your friends & family might be upset….)
Language: if you’re going to a country that hosts a different language (even English!), make sure you brush up on AT LEAST the basics! If you’re a beginner, great! You’ll have an achievable challenge ahead of you.
It is a GREAT idea to carry a little pocket-size phrase book (I carried a Lonely Planet one throughout Italy and used it about 13 times every day!)
All of the above suggestions are going to help you with language preparation, but stay as connected to your host culture as you can. Listen to music, read books, host country local newspapers, movies, and if you have any friends or family fluent in the language, use them as a great resource! They will be excited to help you and proud 🙂
Don’t brush off English prep. Of course we have our distinctive dialect. It’s a good idea to review greetings, salutations, and any word differences you might come across. For example, have you ever heard of the popular 80’s garment, a Fanny Pack? Well, check out what the British use the word Fanny for. There are PLENTY of other examples of phrases that might get you in trouble, so to avoid any troubles, check out the common language before you go!
– I like to use Word Reference for a quick word & phrase find.
– For Spanish (which is my forte) verb conjugation this has saved my life many times: Spanish Verb Conjugation
– Check out Sol Education Abroad‘s quick guide for Spanish Helpful Words & Phrases (you’ll find one at the end of every Country Handbook).
– Do a word of the day! Use your Smart Phone (Android, iPhone, Windows, whatever!) and download a word of the day app. You can wake up with it, and start your day right.
Then share it with us on our Facebook wall, so we can all work as a team to help all of our students to prepare.
*What’s YOUR word of the day?
One of the most procrastinated tasks of planning for your adventure abroad! But don’t put it off! It should top your list of priorities in preparation for your voyage.
My personal travel notion: “Put all the money you wish to take, and all the things you wish to take on your bed. Take half your things and twice your money!”
Make sure you think about all angles of the program! What are you going to need to budget for? What does your Program already include? With Sol Education Abroad programs you can count on EVERYTHING being included (minus airfare and personal spending money). Check out: What’s Included!
Lay it Out!
Program Fee: $#,### (make a list of what it includes!)
Airfare: Which country are you going to & when? How soon in advance should you book your flight? Generally, the best deals will be 2-4 months in advance.
Make sure you allow yourself enough time to purchase your flight, since ticket prices will only go up as you approach your program start date. We recommend the following sites to search for tickets:
– SideStep: http://www.sidestep.com (searches over 200 travel websites)
– Student Airfares: www.sta.com & www.studentuniverse.com
– Orbitz: www.orbitz.com
– Expedia: www.expedia.com
– Skyscanner: www.skyscanner.net
– American Airlines: www.aa.com (AA is no longer on many of the search engines!)
Personal Spending Money: – Our suggestions for our locations are as follows:
*Costa Rica: $100-$130/week
*These estimates are quite high, but it’s better safe than sorry! Also, make sure you think about if you will be do any weekend travel. Remember, in the summer there is a Sol led excursion every weekend! The semester sessions include one a month.
Some things to think about…
– What is your host country’s currency called?
Argentina: Argentine Peso
Costa Rica: Colón
And what is the exchange rate?www.XE.com – Most up to date Exchange rates.
www.Numbeo.com (Use this site to compare and contrast the cost of living in different countries!)
What is my host country’s Country Code?
Costa Rica: +506
Some helpful travel links para vosotros:
IndependentTraveler.com (Travel Tips, Travel Planning & Discount Travel)
CardHub.com (Help in choosing the best Credit Card for your international traveling)
– Your school’s study abroad office