9 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Went Abroad

By Allie Filmanowicz

1. Do not over pack.

It will be easy to fall into the “well, what if I need this?” mentality, causing you to be tempted to pack everything you own! Don’t go down that path. Instead, stick to the essentials. If it ends up you forgot something dire, you will be able to pick it up when you arrive. You don’t want to end up over packing and only wearing your favorite pair of black jeans every day anyway!

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2. Take a few minutes every day to write in a journal or in a note on your phone.

You know the saying “time flies when you’re having fun?” That could not be truer than during your time abroad! Before you know it, a month will have gone by, and if you don’t take the time to jot down a couple things a night, you might end up forgetting about some of the wonderful things you saw or experienced.

3. Take the time to meet and bond with your study abroad group right away. 

These are the people you will be spending a majority of your time exploring and getting to know your new home with. Dive into making friendships right away and don’t worry about being awkward! Everyone will be a little apprehensive about being so far from home that any friendliness will be welcomed with open arms.

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4. Keep a list of every restaurant you go to.

Everyone has had that experience of racking your brain for your favorite restaurant in a city you spent time visiting, thinking “oh… it was kind of Italian and was next to that really cool bar.” You never know when you will be visiting these cities again, or when you will have the opportunity to sound like the most knowledgeable world traveler to people who ask for suggestions on where to go. Keeping a list will not only be a great keepsake for you, but also an easy reference for friends or yourself when you return to that city.

5. Tell your bank everywhere you are going.

Banks are always watching your back to make sure your money isn’t getting stolen (thanks for having our backs, banks!) In efforts to do this, if they see charges that seem unusual (cue your trip to Amsterdam, then London, then back to Barcelona)… that will get flagged as suspicious behavior! To avoid having them freeze your card, leaving you stranded with no money, keep them updated on where you will be!

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6. Bring back souvenirs from the city you are living in.

A lot of people worry about getting souvenirs from all the places they visit and completely space on bringing home keepsakes from the city they actually lived in. The city you call home for your time abroad will be the most near and dear to your heart, so make sure you bring home a coaster from your favorite bar, or a t-shirt from the souvenir shop you always passed on the way to class. Those things will mean the most when you get back and are going through abroad withdrawals.

7. Make a plan of which places you want to see and book those trips early. 

It’s super easy to assume you are going to be able to see everything, and you absolutely can, but planning is key! If you plan out everywhere you want to see and book the trips right away, you are committing to doing it! Also, don’t be afraid to book a trip through a travel company alone if there is a place you really want to see. Even if your friends don’t want to join you, it’s a great way to meet new people and get the most out of your abroad experience.

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8. Bring an extra duffel for the things you accumulated while abroad. 

You will absolutely be buying things you forgot, didn’t know you needed, or just want while you are abroad. To avoid the extra cost of buying a bag while you are there, pack an extra duffel bag that you can fill with all the goodies you pick up during your time abroad.

9. This experience will be life changing.

Going abroad will, without a doubt, be a life changing experience. You will make friends from around the world, see places some only ever dream of, try exotic foods, and experience every emotion imaginable. Remember to soak in every moment and make the most of it! Also don’t worry about America and everything you miss about it… it will be right where you left it when you get back. 

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