For those of you who don’t know, I have pent the summer preparing and saving for my semester abroad in Lyon, France. I have found the study abroad pre-departure process to be, not only extremely exciting, but quite daunting and confusing. As I leave in two weeks, I figured I would share some of the organizational tips I have come across and learned while preparing in the hopes that it makes things easier for any of my readers who plan on studying abroad.
For those planning on studying in a non-english speaking country (if you have not done so already) I suggest taking a language class or using the DuoLingo app. I am going to France specifically to study French language and culture so I am lugging my most advanced textbook with me. All summer I have been reviewing so that when I arrive I am not completely overwhelmed with the foreign dialogue. One of the best things I did for myself was go through the book and mark those verb and grammar pages that I find I need to use the most when conversing. For example, I marked pages about verb conjugations, adverbs and adjectives and vocabulary. This helps me stay organized.
Perhaps the most helpful in my preparations was creating a ‘Travel Binder’ for my trip. In this binder I keep my passport, my acceptance letters into my program and host university, copies of my health release, my visa information from the consulate and any other vital documents I may need. I also have saved on my computer and in my binder copies of my passport, birth certificate and any identification documents. This was advised by my program because should you lose your passport, having a copy of it can be a lifesaver when talking to foreign authorities.
Book your flight as soon as possible. Look for flights on Tuesdays, as flights are cheapest this day of the week. Ensure that you are arriving several hours before your program requires you to be there in case any unexpected delays occur. I would invest in a nice planner so you can write all your flight information on paper and have it with you all the time. Sometimes phones malfunction and it can be hard to pull all that information up at a moment’s notice.
Packing was extremely daunting for me (I am still not completely done) and I had to remember that I will need to leave room to bring back any souvenirs (or in my case clothing and makeup) that you purchase. So to determine the clothes I would bring, I put literally EVERYTHING in my closet on the floor. I had three piles: take to France, keep at home, and the maybe pile (I also later added a pile to donate as I realized I had many clothes I never wear). I went through everything and put only the clothes I wear weekly in my suitcase. I also checked the climate in Lyon to guide my choices. Once I was done, I went through the maybe pile and found that most of those items were really ‘no’s.’ Once I have my definite ‘yes’ pile I wrote a list of the exact garments I wanted to bring so that when I did laundry nothing would go missing.
I was told by a friend to bring a nice notebook. I plan on journaling often and then sharing my experiences on this blog with all my readers!
I hope you enjoyed this post and found some of my tips helpful. I still don’t leave for about 2 weeks, but being prepared early makes the journey less stressful and allows me to relax before departure.
Bon chance et bon voyage!