Most large colleges and universities in the United States have a study abroad program. More than 250,000 students study abroad for a semester or an entire year. Studying abroad is a big decision that you should give a lot of consideration to before making any plans. When you’re preparing to study abroad, it’s important to make sure all the details are taken care of in advance. You don’t want any unforeseen problems at the last minute. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

1. Meet With A Study Abroad Counselor

The first thing to do is to decide which country you want to study in and how much it’s going to cost. You should also meet with a study abroad counselor in advance to make the transition to living in a different culture easier. Questions to ask a study abroad counselor are:

What program is best for me?
Do I have to take a language test?
How do I ensure acceptance to a school abroad?
How do I meet the requirements to study abroad?
Can I work part-time during my time abroad?
What requirements are necessary to live and work abroad after graduation?

Study abroad has a resource center located at the University of Iowa that’s accessible to all students. The resource center provides information about initial steps to take, available programs, funding, departing, living in a foreign country, and coming home.

2. Determine Your Destination

The purpose of studying abroad is to gain experience that’s related to your professional and personal goals. Don’t choose a destination for study because it’s a place you want to visit. You should choose a university, country, and city that is best suited to your goals and expectations. You should also take your budget into consideration when choosing the country and university for your studies. Ideally, you should begin preparations at least a year in advance of departing. That way you’ll know what the program will cost and how to appropriate your funds.

3. Apply for Scholarships

Start looking into funding options as early as possible. When you’re applying for scholarships, keep in mind that your background isn’t the same as everyone else’s. You must explain in detail why you should study abroad and experience another culture. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is worth applying for, but the competition is fierce, so you have to put all you’ve got into your written work.

4. Health Issues

Potential health issues are important for you and your parents to pay attention to before you leave. When you experience a medical problem in another country, it’s much different from being at home. You should have a general checkup, preferably by a doctor who specializes in travel medicine, at least six weeks before you leave. If you’ll be living in a country outside North America or Western Europe, it’s especially important to have all the necessary vaccines. In the event of an emergency, it’s a good idea for parents to have updated passports.

5. Learn About the Culture Before You Leave

You should have an understanding of the culture and history of the country you’ll be living in before you leave home. Although it should be a fun and exciting learning experience, it’s also going to be very challenging. You’ll be living within a society that’s unfamiliar and in some ways may seem strange. You’ll gain a lot more from your experience, and the people you meet in your host country will have a greater appreciation for you if you understand the culture.

6. Storing Your Possessions

Before you depart, you should make arrangements about how your possessions will be cared for while you’re abroad. One of the most cost effective ways to ensure that your possessions will be safe and properly taken care of is to rent a self-storage unit. Even still, the environment and other factors can still harm your property. The easiest way to deal with this is to use climate controlled storage units so you can enjoy your study abroad without worry.

By using these tips, you’ll know about everything you must take care of before you leave for your study abroad trip.

Information provided by StorageBlue, a climate controlled storage facility in Jersey City.