One of the best decisions you can make during your college career is to study abroad. The experience that you will have and the people you will meet will make a difference in your life. Studying abroad can also be a very exhausting process, preparing for this once and a lifetime journey, with no sense of what will actually happen after you step off the plane. Below are five tips to take before journeying off into a life changing experience.

1. Handle all of your educational affairs before leaving

Going abroad is supposed to be an amazing time in your life, but courses, financial aid and other aspects of educational affairs could potentially block that instant experience. Talk to your advisers, professors, administrators, anyone that can help you make the transferring of one university to another a smooth transition. It would be disappointing to go abroad and not have approval for a course, or not knowing if your financial aid has been covered.

2. Research Your Country

Some students who go abroad fail to research the place they will be residing. Will you be in a rural or urban area? Those aspects matter when factoring it into your total experience. Some people prefer to be in a more secluded, quiet environment, while others want to bustle in the nightlife of the city. Some people may think studying abroad in Paris sounds like a once and a life time opportunity, and it very well could be, but many things go into living in a big city like that. Transportation, safety, location of your actual residence, and many more. It may be that you would prefer staying on the outskirts of Paris and visiting the main city on the weekends. Research where you will be at, because that could make all the difference in your experience.

3. Make a Study Abroad Budget

Going abroad can add up quickly. If you factor in food, travel, nightlife, and other things, you could quickly be out of money half way into your journey. It may be wise to make a budget with how much you are taking abroad and how much you plan to spend weekly. It would be wise to also have an emergency account just in case you run into a situation where you need money. For example, if you know you want to travel to certain places while abroad research the travel expenses including transportation, lodging and activities. Once you know how much you may spend traveling, you can then set up a schedule surrounding weekly expenses.

4. Pack Light

Many study abroad students, including myself make the mistake of over packing. In my opinion after going through the experience, you only need one large suitcase. Of course it does depend on the location of where you go, for example if you go to a country that goes through a few seasons during your stay. But overall, don’t over pack. When your abroad you will have the opportunity to go shop at places you have never heard of before. You will have souvenirs and new items to bring home, and it would suck if you didn’t have enough room to bring it in. If you do take two suitcases, leave enough room in one for items that you may want to bring back home with you.

5. Relax!

Studying abroad is something that could potentially change your life, but RELAX! Don’t stress about the little things. When you study abroad you are not neccessarily going to be in charge of every aspect of the journey. The school you attend may have a completely different learning style. People may do things completely different, but that’s the point! If you wanted traditional and predictable, you wouldn’t be going abroad. Be open minded to new experiences, you may find out something new that you like. That is all part of the journey, if you relax and have an open mind, you will surely learn new things about your self, and create memories that you will never forget.