It’s time to start preparing for your trip – here’s how
Moving abroad is hugely exciting and filled with endless opportunities for learning, adventure, and personal growth. But it is also a huge change – which requires some serious planning and organization. Our handy preparation guide will make the transition into your new life smoother – and no, it’s never too early to start preparing for your year abroad. You’ll thank us later.
Do your research online
Spend an evening or two Googling your new home town and stalking the destination on Instagram (yes, that hashtag will become your new best friend). You could even go old-school and buy the guidebook.
Whichever method works for you, find out as much as you can about your new home before you go – that way it won’t seem as strange and new when you first arrive.
Plus, there’s nothing quite like a good collection of Instagram photos to get you super excited about going abroad!
… and in-person
Don’t forget to ask any of your family, friends or friends-of-friends who have visited your new home town about their experiences. You’ll step off the plane armed with a whole host of insider tips and recommendations for what to do, where to eat and how to live like a local.
Pack your things
Time to start filling that suitcase. Get started early – yes, at least a few months before you depart – to ensure you have everything you need. If you don’t, you’ll still have plenty of time to chase the best deals and shop to fill any gaps in your wardrobe.
Remember to pack thoroughly for the seasons if you’re heading to a city with very cold winters or scorching hot summers, and include a few home comforts to make your new room feel cozy and homely from day one.
For more thorough packing advice, read our full guide to packing for a year abroad.
Be extra prepared
Sure, you’re going to encounter surprises and challenges when you arrive in a totally new city, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re – if not completely ready – much readier than you think you can be.
One easy step is to download travel and tourism apps designed to help tourists explore your new home town, often featuring super handy offline maps to help you navigate using just your phone and heaps of information about public transport and getting around.
Check out whether you need to upgrade your phone plan or buy a local SIM card too – though WiFi is usually available in most public places, including your school, being connected everywhere makes life easier.
Get your paperwork in order
The first step is to locate your passport and keep it somewhere safe.
Then you’ll need to embark on the following: Make sure your flights are booked, have your accommodation sorted out, your insurance purchased, airport transfer booked, visa applications clear and done (helped by your local EF office and study abroad advisers, of course!).
Next, print off absolutely everything from your boarding passes to your arrival information and keep it all in one place so you can’t lose it.
And stay organized
If all your key information is securely in one folder in your bag, you’ll be able to produce it when necessary and handle any questions that might come your way as you arrive.
Make digital copies too: if you do lose your bag or spill coffee all over your paperwork, you’ll still have versions on your phone to help you out, and vice versa if you run out of phone battery at a crucial moment.
Get your money right
Make sure you’ve got your finances in order and you’ve got the means to pay for your year abroad. Ensure your bank cards can be used abroad at foreign ATMs and don’t forget to let your bank know that you’ll be traveling so that they don’t block your card when you make your first transaction.
Pre-paid travel cards are a good way to avoid foreign currency fees, and traveling with cash when you first arrive is handy in case your card gets declined at any point.
Start saying goodbyes (and planning hellos)
Don’t leave all your goodbyes to the last minute. Make time to see everyone you’ll miss while you’re away in the months leading up to your move.
Whether that means throwing a huge party before you leave, scheduling a whole month of coffee dates with friends or making sure you’ve spent enough time with your mum, you’ll be glad you made the effort once you’ve gone (and so will they).
Another great thing to do during this stage is to make plans to have your friends and family visit you in your new town. That way, goodbyes don’t seem like such a big deal, and having visitors to show around town helps you settle into your new life.