As I prepare to leave for five months to a country I have never been to I am rapidly realizing how clueless I am about leaving to live in another country. Though my university has been incredibly helpful in preparing me for what to expect, I have also realized that there is quite a lot that my university could not prepare me for. Everyone tells you what to prepare for when you have finally arrived in your new city, but barely anyone tells you how to get ready to leave. This is what I have now learned to be ready for when prepping for my study abroad.
1. Be prepared for people to not support you.
You would think that everyone would be supportive of your amazing adventure but sadly, they aren't. I can't begin to understand why people wouldn't be supportive but in the months leading up to your departure you might find yourself having to convince others why you are studying abroad. Though it can be difficult, just remember that the people that really care about you will be supportive.
2. Expect the unexpected.
It may be cliched but you need to be prepared for everything. You think you have completely filled out your visa application without a single error? Good try. Something is always wrong, even if it wasn't your fault. Make sure you check in frequently with everyone you need to in order to avoid a last minute panic because you actually didn't get your visa approved.
3. Prepare to have doubts.
I have wanted to study abroad for years but even I had doubts about spending the entire semester in another country. This is normal. You will be out of you comfort zone and that is okay. Talk to someone about your anxieties. It is normal to worry that you will feel homesick, struggle to adapt and find yourself feeling lonely. Just remember that you will be okay. All you need to do is take it one day at a time.
4. Accept that you will feel overwhelmed at times.
Sometimes it seems like when it rains, it pours. Things were going fine and then all of the sudden you get a call from the consulate that there is a problem with your visa, insurance won't call you back, your flights got changed and you have nothing packed. And this all happened before ten in the morning. Take a deep breath. Of course, this is overwhelming but just keep moving forward. Everything will work out.
5. Be prepared for extra expenses.
Studying abroad can be expensive. You might think you have a budget set, and then you realize all of the miscellaneous items you need to buy before you leave. Keep this in mind. Try to be at least a little flexible in your budget.
6. Try to enjoy your last few weeks at home.
It might be hard to enjoy your time at home when you're overwhelmed with everything that you have to get done but try to have some fun in your last few weeks. Do all the cliched things you love about your hometown. It will be a while before you get to do these things again.
7. Understand that you won't have time for everything.
You might want to say goodbye to everyone you ever met before you leave but between packing, paperwork and endless phone calls you probably won't have time. do your best to explain that to people. Tell them that you will see them when you get back. Besides, you will have way better stories to tell if you see them when you return!
8. Buy vacuum sealing bags.
This is quite possibly the best idea I have ever had. You will have so much extra room in your suitcases. Trust me.