It’s really easy to think about all the fun things and activities you will do while you’re abroad. Because of this, a lot of people overlook some of the logistics and details behind getting ready for your study abroad. After speaking with some people, here is a list of things that you should keep in mind when preparing for you time abroad.
First, just like any other travel tip, do not overpack!! You will be shopping and buying souvenirs, so make sure to leave some space in your suitcase in anticipation. I personally didn’t think I would do much shopping, but after getting to Europe, I realize a lot of items are cheaper here than in the US, especially European brands that are imported to the US.
Second, check your credit card! I found surprising that not many people knew about foreign transaction fees on credit cards (sometimes even debit cards). This typically happens when you purchase something with your card in a different currency, and your bank does the conversion to your home currency (like USD). Banks will usually charge you for doing that conversion, and it’s usually around 3% of the transaction amount. Although this may sound like it isn’t much, it really accumulates after a while, especially after a couple months.
Third, bring comfy shoes! Especially Europeans really enjoy walking everywhere, even though public transportation is great. Cities tend to be very walkable and it’s also an amazing way to see cute little streets that you wouldn’t see if you were to take the metro. On my first day of the program in Paris, we had an orientation and then we walked to a boat cruise… we walked for two hours straight in the heat. Some people’s feet started being uncomfortable and tired, which further proves how important it is to have some good comfortable sneakers/shoes that you can walk in.
Last but not least, learn the basics! This includes learning basics facts about the culture such as tipping culture, etc. but primarily learning the basics of a language, especially if you’re going to a country where English isn’t the main language. This can be very useful if that country doesn’t speak much English or if you travel to smaller towns, among others. This can also come in handy when ordering a pastry, food, asking for a table, or even just learning how to greet people in stores and saying sorry/excuse me for politeness.
There are many more to keep in mind, but some things are learnt from trial and failure, and that is the beauty of being in a new place.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.