Study Abroad Preparation Checklists

How to prepare for a semester abroad.

My time in St. John’s, Newfoundland is slowly coming to an end. On September 1, I head back to Nova Scotia for two weeks and then embark on my three and a half month journey to study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic.

The past few months have been extremely busy trying to get everything in its place before heading off. The visa alone was a lot of running around, but I submitted that and received it really quickly. I was worried I wouldn’t get it in time and was shocked to find it in my mailbox in late July.

However, in addition to my visa, there have been a number of other preparations on my pre-departure checklist.

My study abroad administrative preparations:

• Applied for an International Student Identity Card. This card is an identification card accepted all around the world that gives you discounts and specials for restaurants, goods and services. I was able to get this card for free from my school’s Students’ Union.

• Purchased my flight and travel insurance.

• Ensured I had adequate travel medical insurance coverage for my stay. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be covered for my entire stay under two different insurance policies my parents have so I did not have to purchase extra travel health insurance.

• Read the pre-departure materials given to me by the International Programs Office at my university to ensure I have considered all of the important steps.

• Registered with Registration of Canadians Abroad.

• Registered important valuables with The Canadian Border Services Agency.

• Applied for my visa. It's best to start the process early and make sure you read everything very carefully. It can be a pain in the butt and little screw-ups can delay the process. This isn’t good when they estimate processing takes an average of two months (this does vary depending on the country, but the process is typically long regardless of where you go).

• The lease for my apartment is also up at the end of August, so before I leave I also have to pack and move all of my belongings into a storage unit for the duration of my trip. (I will be moving into a new house with my two friends upon returning.)

My study abroad financial preparations:

• In addition the money I saved from my work term, I applied for the Nova Scotia student loan that I apply for every year.

• Received a $1000 Youth Engagement Leadership Grant from the Harbour Breton Community Youth Network, which covers my flight costs to Prague.

• Applied for other scholarships through the university and the community (but have yet to receive anything). In addition, there are a number of scholarships and bursaries from the university that I'm automatically considered for. (I had a few friends receive scholarships this way while studying abroad in the winter semester; that would be a nice surprise.)

• On top of this, I also have a personal line of credit, which I can use for back-up if I run out of funds while abroad. (I don’t intend on doing this—it’s just to be safe!)

• Created a rough budget. I can create a budget though showing how much money I have from savings, loans and scholarships, as well as the necessary expenses I will incur (such as my plane ticket, tuition costs, residence fees, and a rough idea of food costs). But at this point, I really have no idea where I want to travel, what friends I while make along the way, or what trips are offered through the school’s buddy program, so it’s hard to know every expense.

Traveling can be expensive, yes, but I also have the mindset that I don’t know when or if I will ever be back in Europe and I want to see as much as possible while I’m there. I am there for the purpose of studying but the reason we study abroad is to learn about different cultures and experiences and gain a new perspective—we can only learn so much from a book, we must experience it firsthand to full understand it!

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Beth Saunders

Beth Saunders is a young Nova Scotian who studied Commerce at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. During a semester abroad at the University of Economics in Prague, Beth shares her overseas adventures with us.


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