Funding Tips, Gilman Scholarship, Packing Tips, Preparing for Study Abroad, What did you know before you left?

Getting Ready To Go Overseas!

March 2, 2017

Hello, everyone! Greetings from Melbourne, Australia!

I’m Desiree, and I’ve been a student at San Francisco State University for – too long too count! This is currently my last semester until I graduate, and there is no better way to end my college career with a BANG then studying abroad!

Preparing for this trip was a big challenge for me; I did most of my planning on my own, but I wish I could have reached out to my family and friends a bit more so I would be OVER-prepared instead of under-prepared. Lessons learned!

Overall, I’m so incredibly grateful for an awesome SF State Study Abroad team – the faculty was so nice and helpful as I kept going into the Study Abroad office and were there to assure me that they’re available for any questions or concerns I had while going abroad! Last but certainly not least, the Gilman Scholarship was my saving grace for this trip. I was so worried about finances and saving throughout the year and was so anxious to find out if I got the scholarship so I could feel more at ease as I prepared for my trip, and thankfully, I got it!

For those who don’t know the Gilman Scholarship is an undergraduate grant program for U.S. citizens with limited financial means to enable them to study abroad, thereby internationalizing their outlook and better preparing them to thrive in the global economy. Specifically, this scholarship was able to provide finances for my housing and airplane tickets, and I don’t think I would have studied abroad had I not been determined to just go for it and apply for the scholarship and blessed enough to have received it!


Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you prepare to go overseas:

  1. Pack Light!

I did my best to keep only what I knew I was going to wear/use the most going abroad, but still, I wish I packed lighter. I brought two luggages, one carryon bag, and one backpack – as much as I thought this was “packing light”, this was so much to handle as I left the country and hauled around from city to city! Also very important: always check your airline’s baggage allowance before your leave your house. Unfortunately, there are some hefty overweight baggage fees at a bunch of international airports. Keep that in mind before you zip your luggage shut!

2. Don’t forget to set your bank’s travel notice on! 

You could be charged with those international fees depending on your bank – and don’t forget the fluctuating currency changes in your country!

3. Essentials that you may not have thought of:

  • A plug converter for your country! – Luckily, my dad reminded me that certain countries don’t have the same plugs in America, so he grabbed me a converter. I still have to buy another one, but this thing is so necessary as Australia’s plugs are different than the U.S. 🙂
  • All your chargers – no brainer, but still! Phones, computers, cameras.
  • Copies of your passport / your university’s confirmation of enrollment / ID – I printed 3 extra copies to put in my luggages and purse.
  • Neck Pillow – for those long airplane rides
  • Portable Phone Charger – I brought 2 for emergencies!
  • Money Belt – this was necessary when I went to the Philippines because there were a bunch of markets/places I went to that were known for having pickpocketers/thieves. Better safe than sorry!
  • Various Types of Wipes – I brought antibacterial wipes, face wipes and flushable wipes as not every bathroom I went to offered toilet paper!

4. Document your trip.

Being that person who loves to take photos and write everything, I encourage you all to document your trip as much as you possibly can. I know there are going to be so many moments that we should put our phones and cameras down and enjoy the moment; know those moments and embrace them! But while you can, prepare to borrow/buy a go-pro, camera, DSLR, iphone lens, and all that you can to make those memories to show your family and friends when you get back! They will live vicariously through your photos/videos and will inspire others to see the world just as you are.

More to come as I continue this journey. Happy Traveling!

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