What to do before you study abroad

Make sure you order your course materials before you leave


You just received your acceptance letter from BU’s Study Abroad Office.

As some one who studied abroad in Grenoble, France the Fall of 2015 and will be studying “abroad” through BU’s Washington DC Internship program I can guarantee that spending a semester in a different environment is one of the best choices you will ever make during your time at BU.

But in order to enjoy your experience to the fullest you must first be properly prepared. Here is everything you need to do before you depart for your semester/summer abroad.

Complete your pre-departure forms

The pre departure forms are essential for your trip and are usually due within 2 weeks of admission. These include a number of agreements, medical information, and a deposit.

Also if you are applying for an internship program you have extra work to do since you have to apply to each internship separately.

Make sure you have a valid passport

If your program is in the US you should not have a problem but you do need a passport to travel abroad.

Many countries require visas, which can be a lengthy process so the earlier you apply the better.

Contact your program manager

Your program managers are going to be your family abroad (unless you’ll be living with a host family; see below).

Your managers will be there to help you with anything you may need. Shoot them an email when you arrive to establish that contact early on. In some instances, these are even the people who will be posting your final grades.

Get in contact with previous participants

Talking to former students is a great way to find out more details about the program. They will tell you what classes to take, which professors are easy graders, what are the hottest spots in town and in general how to spend your time abroad.

Meet your classmates 

If you already know someone else participating in the same program as you, get to know them better.

Make some early travel plans with them, since after all you will be spending four months together in a foreign country.

Order your books and other course materials

Just like back home, course materials are essential for your classes abroad and unfortunately they are still quite pricy.

Make sure you order your course materials while still at home, because paying for shipping abroad would make them even more expensive.

Become familiar with the language 

Ok, if you are studying abroad in England, Australia, New Zealand or Ireland this does not apply to you.

But in any other case it would be a good to learn at least the basics. If you already speak the language a little bit brushing up your skills is a great start if you want to get a good grade in your language class.

Read articles from local news publications, watch local TV/shows  and listen to local music. You will blend in with the culture there in no time.

Book your flight

Many study abroad programs have group flights departing from the US to the destination of your program. However, if you are unable to join the group flight for any reason be sure to book a flight separately for yourself. The earlier you book your flight the cheaper it is (most of the time).

Get prepared to live with a host family

In some programs you will have to live with host families, which in my experience was the most fun part.

These families tend to be a good match with the students and are your home away from home. The program does not usually give you their contact information, so you may meet them the first day of the program, but it would be a great idea to bring them a gift from the US as a thank you.

Your semester or summer abroad might make you miss out on some opportunities back home, but you will gain even more adventures and memories in a whole new place. You will meet amazing people, try delicious food and get to see many beautiful places.

Take advantage of this now, while you can!