It may seem that there is a never-ending list of tasks to accomplish before you study abroad, and that makes it easy to overlook the small details. Specifics such as how you are going to get around town or if you will have a plate to eat off of your first night may not be at the top of your list of worries, but they are something to keep in the back of your mind as your trip approaches. Here are some easily overlooked details that you may want to unpack from the back of your mind before you unpack your suitcase when you get to your destination.
Everyone has different living arrangements while abroad. Something you may not think about is how you are going to access the internet, assuming you are not using data 24/7. Some housing may come with Wi-Fi, while others may not. In that case, there will be Wi-Fi plans available similar to data plans in the United States. I suggest doing some research about the Wi-Fi situation of your abroad housing before you get there so there are no surprises.
It would be easy if you could just simply transport your whole dorm room to your abroad location, but unfortunately, that is not an option. You may have enough space to bring every toiletry necessary while away, but you are going to realize there are still some things you cannot live without. Save some money for living items you may forget about until you need them such as silverware, a stand-alone fan, a mirror, or small commonplace items such as tape and scissors.
You already paid for your flight, your visa, your abroad housing and tuition, and maybe a change in your phone plan. With all the things being taken care of and paid for prior to arrival, it is easy to forget that you will need to purchase textbooks once classes start. Try setting a chunk of money on the side before you leave so it does not hurt as much when you have to dump hundreds of dollars away as soon as classes begin.
Something many students overlook before going abroad is the travel expenses once they have arrive at their destination. This is more than the expensive first cab ride from the airport to your accommodation. Most likely, you will not have a car while abroad, and although campus may be easy to walk through, going to the food store, beach or a museum may not be as foot-friendly. Luckily, companies like Uber have helped ease the burden of transport necessity, but definitely think about public transport and those costs so you have some money to cover.
Bank Charges and Exchange Rates
Depending on where you go, you may gain or lose money due to the exchange rate between American currency and the currency of your location. Make sure you are aware of this rate so you don’t have a heart attack when your 200 dollars turns in 150 euros. Also, be aware of foreign transaction fees and ATM charges, which can add up. I loved my TD Bank debit card because there were no transaction fees through the bank. I know other people used the pre-paid VISA TravelMoney card. There are many ways to ensure you have protected, fee-free money, so do your research and you will find an option that works for you.
I am sure you plan on traveling to other locations while abroad, and you probably have money saved for that. However, there are the “little things” you will find yourself doing that you may not have planned. For instance, while in Australia I attended a music festival I did not learn about until I was abroad. I also ended up spending a hefty sum of money on clothing shopping, which I definitely did not expect at all. It is always smart to have extra money for the extra “extras!”
As much as we may sometimes deny it, we are only human and we get sick. If your illness is worth a trip to the doctor, be aware that you will more likely than not have an out-of-pocket expense, even if you have traveler’s insurance. It is smart to set an “emergency money” stash aside for times like this.
There are so many things that may not seem big, but make a huge difference once you are abroad. Use this list as a reminder as your trip gets closer, and you will be ready to go with a plan once your feet touch foreign soil.