I thought there couldn’t be anything more stressful than waiting for that final acceptance letter into my Study Abroad program. I was wrong.
As I am sitting here in my apartment in Santiago, Chile, I think back to the two months right before I left. Chaos. Stress. And I laugh. Because while it was a lot to go through and a lot business to talk care of, it was all SO worth it in the end. Here are some of my suggestions based on my experience to keep your stress low and your worrying to a minimal:
- Funding tips: Terrified of the fact that I would spend an entire year abroad without a job (job-less is not something I’m used to) I planned ahead. Way ahead. I got an extra job, started putting half of my paychecks into my savings account, and applied for scholarships (THANK YOU GILMAN I LOVE YOU). Trust me, not buying all of those concerts tickets and refusing to even window shop in my last few months made a huge difference. And totally worth it. When you go abroad, you will want to travel everywhere and with traveling comes expenses. Seriously, plan ahead! You will be grateful.
- Packing tips: So here is where I messed up, big time. I have seldom traveled anywhere out of the States, let alone for an entire year, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to pack. My solution? Bring everything. I took “packing light” lightly, to say the least. I brought two suitcases, and both of them I can definitely fit in. I don’t even wear half the clothes and shoes I brought. Trust me, one suitcase is suficient. Just the essentials. So please, do not take two human-sized suitcases like I did. Not worth it. I promise you that drugstores and malls exist abroad.
- Visa obtainment: Two words of advice: BE PERSISTENT. Know exactly what kind of documents your Visa requires, regularly go to the Consulate (or email/call) to check up on the status of your Visa. Be timely and organized with this process. It is stressful, but don’t let it get to you. You WILL get on that plane and have the semester or year abroad you have been waiting for all this time.
Once all your businesses are in order, relax. Focus on spending more time with your friends and family in your last few months before you go abroad. Get a camera. Write down some goals for yourself. Start learning the language, if you haven’t already. Make a list of places you want to travel. Plan to keep in touch with your loved ones. Whether you are going for six months or a year, it will be a very worthwhile experience. Enjoy.