Choosing a program and applying to study abroad takes thought and effort. To have a truly successful experience, you should pay serious attention to the details of preparing for life abroad.
Things To Keep In Mind
Part of your pre-departure efforts will be taking care of business like completing post-acceptance paperwork for your program, securing necessary visas or permits, and attending the mandatory TLU Pre-Departure Orientations.
Before You Leave
- Ensure that your TLU student account is all paid or that you have made payment arrangements.
- Verify that your TLU login and password works before going abroad, so that you can register online, and check your grades and class schedule while abroad.
- Apply or reapply for financial aid for the next academic year.
- Make arrangements to protect your on or off-campus job for when you return home.
- Take a small gift(s) from where you’re from for your host family, such as something Texas-themed, from your hometown, or from TLU.
- The first rule of travel is to pack lightly. Remember that whatever you pack, you will have to carry. Though you may not have to haul your luggage for miles over rough terrain, navigating a city’s public transportation system with even a small, wheeled suitcase can be a physical and cultural challenge. Paying airport fees for overweight bags is also expensive.
- The second rule of travel is to pack selectively. Though you will be packing for a stay of several weeks or months, you will not need all that you think you need. Pack your suitcase(s) early and then remove about half of what you packed. There are most likely going to be a few things you never wear during your trip, so be selective!
- Research the climate and average monthly temperatures in your host country and pack accordingly. Regardless of the climate, it’s always good practice to pack clothing that can be layered and is easy to care for (leave clothes that need dry cleaning at home).
- Take a pair of good walking shoes and at least one outfit that can be worn for any special occasion that might arise -- but don’t take any outfit that can only be worn for a special occasion. Rather than a suit or formal dress, take a pair of nice slacks or skirt, a good shirt, and a tie or dressy sweater.
(pack these in your carry-on luggage)
- Passport + a photocopy
- Driver's license or state identification
- Copy of program acceptance letter
- Airline Boarding Pass
- Credit/debit card + photocopy
- Refillable water bottle (no liquids in it until you pass security)
- Prescription medication + written prescription - if you have a prescribed medication, talk to your doctor before your trip to figure out those details
- Extra glasses/contact lenses + written prescription
- International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
- Universal adaptor - a lot of countries use different electrical systems then the U.S. so you’ll need an adaptor to charge your phone and laptop, or use a blow dryer or hair straightener.
- Cross-body purse or bag (to put your essentials in when you do not need a full backpack)
- Cell phone + charger (for those long plane, bus, or transportation rides)
- Layerable, easy-care clothes (you don’t want to bring too many bulky items)
- One “nice” outfit (for a special dinner, etc.)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Shower flip flops
- Suitable outerwear (rain jacket, umbrella, winter coat, etc.)
While You're There
Once you arrive in your host country, settle in, start classes, and begin navigating your way around your new home, don't completely lose touch with home. Remember to:
- Notify your advisor and the TLU International Education Office about any changes to your proposed schedule and to seek approval for any new classes you wish to use to fulfill a degree requirement.
- Keep in touch! Let us know how you are doing and tell us what's amazing, what's going well, and what's not so good. Always feel free to send photos to the International Education Office so they may share them with others on campus.
- Pay any outstanding balances to the program/host school, so that your transcript will not be delayed once you return to TLU.
- Get the contact information for those you meet while abroad so you can keep in touch via social media or email once you return home.
- Thank your program staff & particularly helpful faculty and tutors.
- Thank your host family (if you stayed with one) for opening up their home to you. You may want to buy them a small gift while there if you did not get one before leaving home.
Remember, as you prepare to return to the United States and to TLU, there are both practical and personal issues that you will need to attend to.
Coming home doesn't mean that you are no longer engaged in education abroad: your experiences abroad will have a lasting affect on how you see the world, how you view others, and how you see yourself.