Preparing to Go Abroad

Ready to go abroad? We’re here to help. We’ve created this section as a guide to help you prepare for your study abroad experience.

Communication

Communicating while abroad can be tricky due to time zone differences and resources. Luckily, technology has made staying in touch easier. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to call home – consider the following:

  • Skype: Make voice and video calls, and send messages for free if you’re on Wi-Fi. (And there’s just a small fee if you’re not on Wi-Fi.)
  • Google Hangouts: Through your CWRU account, you can make voice and video calls and send instant messages.
  • Smartphones: If you bring your smartphone abroad and use an international SIM card, consider using an application-based platform to communicate (examples include: WhatsApp, Voxer, KakaoTalk, Viber, Line)

Be sure to call or email someone at home once you arrive at your host country. Your parents/significant other are anxiously awaiting your arrival too!

Money

Before you head abroad, there are a few quick tips we have for your financial security.

  • Call your bank(s) and credit card companies before you depart.
    • Find out what their international transaction fees are and if they have student accounts for international travel
    • Have phone numbers and account numbers for banks/credit cards somewhere safe (i.e. not with your cards!)
  • Carry some U.S. currency in case of emergency
  • Obtain some foreign currency before you depart, if possible
  • Traveler’s checks are NOT recommended. Many retailers overseas no longer accept them.

And if you have questions on your federal financial aid, contact Nancy Issa.

Packing

Getting ready for your study abroad adventure can seem daunting. What to pack? How much to pack? The general adage of: 1) lay out everything you absolutely need, then 2) cut it in half is a great rule.

But what if you don’t know where to start?

We suggest:

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes (enough for two weeks)
  • The jeans you can’t live without
  • A nice outfit for formal occasions
  • A copy of your vaccination record
  • Translation of medical conditions and/or allergies
  • Emergency contact list
  • Credit card numbers and their respective customer service phone numbers (remember to write down the international number!)
  • Some cash in local currency and U.S. dollars
  • Copies of your passport (and visa, if applicable). Keep a hard copy and an electronic version (such as in your email)
  • Additional form(s) of identification (student ID or driver’s license)
  • Prescription medication(s) and doctor’s contact information if you will need a refill while abroad
  • If you wear contacts, bring enough to last your entire program. If you wear glasses, bring a copy of your prescription in case your glasses get broken.
  • Copy of your Acceptance Letter to show the customs agent (if necessary)
  • Enough toiletries (toothpaste, contact solution, tampons, deodorant, etc.) to last two weeks—until you can find a store you like
  • Small gifts that reflect your home culture. You may want to give these out to your professors/flatmates/friends
  • A camera—and keep it in your carry-on bags
  • Journal to capture your thoughts
  • Outlet adapter/converter
  • Chargers for any electronic devices. (But do not bring hair dryers or anything else that heats up; it will be safer to purchase these in your host country.)
  • Phrase book if going to non-English speaking country
  • Map, so you can get from the airport to your destination comfortably
  • Use a backpack for your carry-on. It will double for your day-outings or weekend trips.

Remember: You will want to purchase items while you are abroad. Allow space in your luggage to bring these items back with you; you will likely purchase more than you anticipate, so cut down on the amount that you bring initially

Most importantly: You are responsible for lugging around your suitcase until you reach your destination. Make sure you can comfortably carry it up stairs and for a long walk; you may have to do this just to exit the airport.

For additional ideas, check out the following resources: