4 Must-Dos Before A Semester Abroad

Written by  August 20, 2014

Don't forget to check these off your list before you study abroad.

As I am writing this, it is just over a month until I leave on my exchange to England! I am so excited and have been preparing and packing in all my spare time.

While everyone thinks of the major stuff like Visas, course credits and flights, there are a few things that I forgot to even think about until someone mentioned them to me.

So, here are four things you should think about when preparing for your exchange that you probably haven’t thought about. (Phew, long title!)

1. Electrical Plugs

Different countries have different electrical sockets and run on different voltages. Like me, you are probably going to take a few things with you such as phone or a camera; all these things will require an adapter to charge in your new host country.

Luckily my Dad had a British one rolling around in the garage but you can pick them up for quite cheap at most travel stores. It also something to put in your hand luggage so you can charge things as soon as you land.

2. How to Access Your Money While On Exchange

You really want to get everything you can out of all the money you saved for exchange. When changing currencies you are hit with exchange rates, hidden bank fees, ATM fees, the list goes on!

So after a bit of research I decided to go with a mixture of options. The bulk of my money will be set up in a UK bank account which can take up to two weeks to set up. It also requires:

• proof of identity
• proof of address in home country (often your letter of offer from your host university)
• proof of new address in the UK.

However, it is unlikely you can open a bank account if you are on exchange for less than six months. While my bank account is being set up, I have got a Travellers Card to tide me over in the mean time. You can get them from your home bank and they are preloaded with whatever amount you like in the currency you need. It is a fixed exchange rate at the time of purchase and there are no bank fees apart from the load fee. You can also load them up with multiple currencies which are handy for travelling.

3. Luggage

I know this seems obvious but hear me out. So you have packed your really big suitcase stuffed full of everything you could possibly need. Ok, that’s great; you can get your stuff from home and back again but what about all the mini trips in between? When you go on weekend trips for three to four days you don’t want to lug around that huge suitcase.

I invested in a 30L duffle bag that also had straps to double as a backpack. It’s small enough to be considered carry on luggage on a plane but also small enough for me to carry on my back. It can fit about three days worth of stuff in it so it’s perfect for all those in between trips. It’s worth thinking about.

4. Travel Register

It’s important to think about safety when travelling and while you might be lost in the thrill of it, it’s crucial to take the right precautions. A great idea is your national travel register. I’ve registered with the New Zeland one. It’s run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and you just register your travel details with them. That way if something happens they can account for you or they can contact you in an emergency.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Hannah Pym

Hannah Pym is an student in Norwich, England on exchange from the University of Auckland. Born in New Zealand, Hannah spent her teenage years in Australia. She is completing her undergraduate degree in English and History.

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