Studying Abroad? 5 Things You Need to Take Care Of...First

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Studying abroad is one of the most exciting things you can do during your collegiate experience. It will expand your mind, grow your lifelong opportunities, and teach you much about others…and yourself. 

Studying Abroad? 5 Things You Need to Take Care Of...First

It is also a complicated process, with many parts! Your university’s study abroad office, or your program provider, will handle much of these, including accommodations, meals, classes (of course!), and excursions. 

Here are five things YOU need to take care of, first…before heading abroad. 

Studying Abroad? 5 Things You Need to Take Care Of...First


Do you already have a passport? If so, double check to make sure that it does not expire while you are overseas. If so, renew it! If you don’t already have a passport, this is the very first thing you need to do, as processing it can take some time. If you are in the United States, passports are issued by the US Department of State. You can find all their guidelines and application forms here


Once your study abroad program has confirmed the dates, you’ll want to figure out how to GET to your destination! It’s a good idea to research flights as soon as possible. Look to regional airlines, like Oman Air, for the best prices to reach your destination. Also look for opportunities and destinations to visit before and after your program, if you can, while you are there. And, while your program will likely have excursions, you can make your own, too…


Double check the program’s requirements, as well as your own policies, as to insurance, both for travel and health. It is generally required to have health insurance (your program may include it, or your regular health insurance may cover it). You will want to add any supplemental insurance for out of country care. And, it is a REALLY good idea to have travel insurance, for all kinds of reasons: flights, medevac, catastrophic events, etc. We never want to think of this, but it is ALWAYS good to be prepared…and never have to use it, rather than need it and not have it.


To prevent fraud, check with your bank, and notify them that you will be studying abroad–including the dates that you will be overseas, and any excursions you may be taking. This will also stop any freezing your account because they don’t know you are overseas! Ask about bank fees for international transactions, and include that in your budget, if necessary. Ask about the process for handling a missing card, JUST in case (you know my motto: be prepared!).

Secondarily, think about your finances and make a plan. Save for a few big items, if you want (theatre or opera tickets, excursions, etc.), and then look for the free. Life isn’t always about spending money, as there is much you can do that is low or no cost (just as locals do!).

Studying Abroad? 5 Things You Need to Take Care Of...First

Set an agenda

Getting the most from your study abroad experience is more than just going and doing.

What do I mean?

Set an agenda, mentally, for what you want to get out of it, besides your academic experience. Do you want to experience what living like a local is like, in your destination? Do you want to visit all the coffee shops? Do you want to learn the language? Discover the theatre/jazz/museum scenes? Do you want to make this a second home, where you will keep returning, for life?

Think about what you want to learn outside of class, and research it before you go.

Leave room for discovery and serendipity, but a bit of advance research and planning will go a long way toward making your time studying abroad more impactful.

Studying Abroad? 5 Things You Need to Take Care Of...First