Deciding to go abroad was a big step, but now you’ve picked your program, gone over finances and academic credits, and received your coveted acceptance letter. Chances are there are several deadlines included in that letter or are on your “gateway” if your program has one. My program has an online gateway that is used to send out information and receive important documents. I am going to try to tell you what to expect of the first few months of being accepted from your program and university. You will have forms from both entities waiting for your signature and approval. Also, I will touch briefly on how to break the news to everyone important and everyone not so important. I will say it in every post, I am no expert, but I am living this experience with you right now, so I can at least relate.
My first piece of advice is stick to your deadlines and check your email often! Those deadlines are golden and setting up your calendar around them is important! You probably have a million other things going on in your life right now- school, work, extracurriculars, but you will be abroad before you know it! That is if you can keep up with those deadlines. I had five or six documents due within 15 days of getting accepted. I had to immediately go and get transcripts sent and orient myself around the idea that I was going abroad at the same time. It is exciting, but it can be overwhelming. Do not forget to ask for help and stay in constant contact with your program. Your long list of advisors has now increased to include a multitude of individuals who are experts in the field of study abroad. They are probably program alumni who started working for the program immediately after college. They are not only your age but experienced!
If you have an online gateway, chances are you have a list of other students participating in your program. Not all of them will stay, especially if you applied early, but it is useful to know their face and talk to them! Use your social media skills and get out there. They will probably be happy to talk to you. Also on that gateway will be LOTS of resources. My program sent information on Indian culture and linked me to the student blog already. As well, they also included a packing list in my student handbook and information on a multitude of other topics with my acceptance letter. Look through all of this, take notes, take frequent breaks, and do not tire yourself of your abroad experience before you even get there!
While I plan on doing a packing blog soon, I want to though briefly on this. A good idea is to try to live a little like you’re abroad now. Have your luggage picked out and see if you can live out of it this summer. You can buy things abroad and figure out things as you go when you are abroad but having idea of what clothing pieces you like to wear over ones you can live without is important!
Now, let’s talk vaccines. You might not have to get them, but if you’re going to a country such as India, some vaccines are a must. I have to get a rabies vaccine, yes rabies. I have other vaccines as well, but be sure to check out CDC.gov and find out now when and where you should get them! Some vaccines have to be started early and can be expensive! I’ll write more on this as well when I start my own vaccines.
Last, but arguably most important, is how to break it to your close and not so close fellow humans. I hope you have discussed going abroad with your family and significant other, but if you haven’t, being excited and forward is the way to go. They will be nervous and happy and still love you, most likely. My parents are extremely nervous, but they are very supportive. They know I need this for me. Be sure to tell them why you’re going and your preparations so far. Knowing you’re ready will make them better.
To my sorority sisters this was a natural step for me, and I told them all during a meeting and same with the housing staff. For those so not so close friends, I made a video and put the link on Facebook. It’s exciting to hear everyone’s good wishes. Also, some people I was “friends” with messaged me and said they had gone abroad and personally told me how happy they were for me. I think going abroad helps you gain respect and friends before you ever get on the plane.
So you’re really getting ready to go? I’m happy for you. I truly am, and I know those scary and happy tears and staying up thinking about it all only increase. Soon, you will be on your way! I just bought my plane ticket, and I have to say I cried a little, but it was good.