11 Study Abroad Tips you’re not likely to find elsewhere:
1. Drink the water! Drink plenty of water on your flight and once overseas – purified/bottled of course. Dehydration is the most common reason for sickness abroad.
2. Check the outlets. You probably won’t need a voltage converter for your phone or computer, but you might consider taking a mini surge protector and a plug adapter. Check online to see what the electrical outlets will look like where you are going, and make sure your mini surge protector covers 220v, if you’ll need it!
3. Most people are the same everywhere – they’re nice! Keep in mind the culture where you’re going will be both similar and different to yours. For example, touching children on the head, stepping over people, tossing things instead of handing them, and aiming the soles of your feet at people in Thailand and much of SE Asia is considered rude.
4. You only need to learn one phrase in the local language to get a smile: “Thank You!” But, learn a few additional phrases by picking up a guidebook or listening to some podcasts before you go, and you’re likely to make more friends. Seriously, just spend an hour and do it. You’ll be happy you did, and the others on your trip will ask you how you said that. Proceeds from AEA phrasebooks go toward AEA scholarships.
5. Don’t bother with a local SIM card if you have Tmobile’s Simple Choice Plan, which includes free texting and Internet in 120 counties! If you want a local number to make lots of local calls, buy a local SIM card to save on local/long distance calling, texting, and affordable internet (usually). If you take your own phone, get it unlocked here or there. Either way, a local SIM will usually have 3G or 4G, so you can always be online if you must.
6. Make sure you have good international health coverage with evacuation. Not all the plans are the same, but prices are similar. Look for one with lots of (or unlimited) medical coverage just in case. Or AEA can get it for you.
7. Don’t take copies of important documents with you. Instead, leave copies of all of your important documents – including credit cards, front and back – in a password protected document in your dropbox or as photos in your phone (with password on your phone).
8. Most places in the world are at least as safe as the US, but petty crime like pickpockets and bag/phone snatching might be more common. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t leave your phone or wallet on a table, and be extra alert when handling those items in public.
9. Rent a GoPro. Don’t own a GoPro and don’t want to buy one, but would like to take one with you? Consider renting one from www.Ayoopa.com and share the cost with a friend or two. Same for luggage, backpacks, smartphones and other outdoor gear.
10. Overpack! Just kidding! Leave that giant shampoo bottle at home. You’re going to want to buy things where you’re going. Not to mention, there are often lower luggage restrictions on overseas carriers that may require you lighten the load anyway. Plus, you can do laundry and buy extra supplies when you get there. Take one medium checked bag and keep it to less than 25 lbs.
11. Be generous. Plan ahead and take extra cash for tips. Keep in mind your waiter, bell hop, guide or driver could make $100 per month or much less, depending where you are going. In many places you go, people may not have a camera or cannot afford to print photos of themselves. If you take someone’s photo, offer to give or mail them a copy. Photo shops are often aplenty in many countries.