College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, so it’s important that you make the right choice when it comes to your education. Some people opt to stay at local colleges in order to be near family. Some opt to go out of state to experience life on their own. And some make the big decision to experience college in an entirely new country, whether for the entire school year or just a portion of it.

Studying abroad can be a great way to experience new cultures and broaden your horizons, but it does require a great deal of planning in order to complete. If you are thinking about studying abroad, the following are six ways to prepare.

1. Familiarize yourself with Local Cultures

The cultures and traditions you’re used to at home will not be the same in another country, so it’s very important that you do your research to familiarize yourself with local cultures. After all, the last thing you want to do is show up to a new country and offend someone with the way your dress or the way you present yourself. Certain hand gestures that you’re used to at home may not mean the same thing in another country, so be sure to familiarize yourself with that as well as customs and traditions you need to be aware of before you go.

2. Determine how you Want to Experience the Culture

Some programs will allow you to live with a host family while others will allow you to live on your own. If the choice is up to you, it’s important you decide how you want to experience the culture. If you have an outgoing personality and can make a good time out of any situation, then living alone may be a great choice. However, if you’re a bit shy, then having a host family can be a great way to make some friends, learn the culture and enjoy yourself without having to do it alone.

3. Make the most of your Trip

You get to spend a decent amount of time in another country, so make it count. Don’t just party your nights and days away. Instead, be sure to visit the sights and take in some cultural experiences. If you’re in Europe, be sure to travel to other parts of the country you’ve wanted to see. By making the most of your trip, you’ll certainly create memories and gain some great experiences, and this is much better than coming home with nothing to show for it than a hangover.

4. Learn Some Basic Language

If you’re not familiar with the native language, it’s important that you get a good base before you go. Make sure you know how to say words and phrases you’ll use most often, such as please, thank you, hello, and goodbye. You should also learn the phrase, “how do you say…” so that you can point to an object and learn the word. You should also learn how to ask for directions, ask for the police, and ask for the hospital, just in case. Before you go, you should also invest in a translation app or book to help you communicate while abroad.

5. Check your Degree Requirements

If you are planning to graduate soon, you should check your degree requirements to ensure your study abroad does not interfere. Make sure you know if you’ll still be able to graduate on time, and make sure you have any necessary paperwork or schoolwork you need with you. This way, you can ensure that your study abroad provides you with the right credits.

6. Get Documents and Paperwork Translated

When you study abroad, you will need to have certain documentation and paperwork on hand. Plan ahead by getting relevant documents, such as your college transcript, translated. This way, there will not be any issues when you start your classes abroad.

You should also consider having your birth certificate and any medical records translated as well. This way, if you were to have any medical or other issues while abroad, you will be able to deal with them appropriately without any hiccups.

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Guest Author: Lizzie Lau is a freelance writer and online marketing consultant with Lizzie combines personal opinions and research to create appealing and informative articles on various topics.