There are a few things that were stressful to me because I didn’t think about it before studying abroad. I hope this will provide you some insight in the details that you should take care of before leaving…
- Triple check with your bank that your debit/credit card can be used internationally, has no fee’s and tell them you are traveling. About a month before I left for England, I called my bank to ask if there were any fee’s or charges to use my debit card internationally. They said no. So I then I told them I was going abroad and not to freeze my account (this is what every study abroad program will tell you to do). Long story short, there WERE fee’s on my card charged by MasterCard rather than Key Bank, and my card WAS frozen because the information in their system deletes after 30 days. Make sure that you won’t be stranded without a way to access money, and definitely make sure you aren’t stranded in another country with a card that is going to cost you about $100 in fees for the 4 months that you are living abroad (what happened to me).
- Do lot’s of research on the city and surrounding area. I have to admit, I did read about 3 tour guides of England and Europe but that information was not really genuine. I wish that I spent a little more time scouring the web getting to know students who did the program I was about to be in and talked to them one on one. I knew very little about the city, and I had no villages that I wanted to see before I got there. I wish I had some sort of checklist that I made before I got there.
- Boots, Toms, Keds and Converse. Comfortable shoes are what makes or breaks your traveling experience. It sounds funny but if you are thinking about the blisters building on your feet all day, you can’t enjoy what is around you. Sandals, flats and heels are not comfortable to me, I suggest boots, some sort of cute sneaker, or canvas shoe with little no-show socks. I didn’t invest in comfortable shoes before I left for London and had to find out the hard way that I needed to buy new shoes.
- Your living space will be small, and probably NOTHING like at home. You will have to learn how to operate different appliances (like the common washer/dryer combo), live without ones you are used to (a “normal” sized refrigerator), and most of all, you will probably be sharing a small space with more roommates than you are used to. In london, I lived in a triple that had just enough room for 1 bed and a bunk bed with about 2 feet to walk between them and one closet. It was very different than my room to myself at home. I expected to be living in tight quarters but having your own space, like a set of drawers or like space between beds, but I wasn’t prepared for that, which stressed me out my first few weeks there.
I hope that you can learn from my ignorance before departing to study abroad in London. These things are basically universal to most study abroad programs in Europe.