If I could go back to the time where I began to plan for my study abroad trip, I would do it all differently. There would be more research on my end before even starting the process. There is so much they don't tell you, and I want to share that with you.
1. Double check everything your advisor tells you.
I'm serious. They are there to help you, but there's no hurting in seeing what else is out there. I did this, and I saved myself a lot of hurt in the long run. If I didn't do this, I would have been severely behind. Advisors make mistakes, and you should be ready to catch them.
I researched on websites by myself, through the program I chose, and through other students. Use your resources and thank me later.
2. Read reviews on your program!
They have plenty of tips and tricks. Sometimes you don't read everything in the fine print, but these reviews might have the things you might have skimmed over. It's worth every read.
3. It's LOTS of paperwork and meetings. More than I can ever tell you.
Be prepared for this to be a part-time job for you. The amount of time I spent organizing, refining, going to meetings was more than you can ever imagine. Set time aside of this, and pay attention to each form that you fill out.
4. Take copies of everything.
It is a mess trying to go back and forth getting copies. Save yourself the trouble and always copy everything. Keep a record of it.
5. Get a passport early on.
This put me behind by a month. I couldn't complete my application without it. It'd be faster if I had one already, to begin with.
6. Have pocket change.
I say this with a heavy heart. I paid everything out of my pocket. Application fee, multiple deposits, and my plane ticket all added up. Be ready to shell out some dough. This is something I wish I would have known long beforehand.
7. Be prepared for the mindset to change.
Where I was when I started the process vs 10 months later, it's been tough. I was so different about the whole thing then, and I'm really optimistic now. It all depends on the time, but I'm mentally preparing for the moment of when I step on the plane.
More stories and lessons to come from me. I hope you stay along for this ride of my life with me! I wouldn't not choose to do this again, and I'm so excited to get on the plane.