In one week I will be living in Italy. Just typing that sentence doesn’t seem real, I’ve been planning, saving and stressing about this trip for what seems like forever so it seems unbelievable that I’m so close and that all of this is really happening.
I decided to study abroad over a year ago, but this past semester was when the real work began. Getting ready to leave your home country for four months is not an easy task; and getting ready to leave your university, friends, and life for eight is even harder. The stress and beuracracy of the whole study abroad process is so great that at times I was quite sure I wasn’t going, it wasn’t going to work out, and I’d be back in Ohio in January heartbroken over my failed aspirations.
But now, I’ve made it through. Here are a few of the hurdles I had to jump, and you can expect if you decide to study abroad. But have no fear, here I am on the other side letting you know it was all worth it.
First things first: getting accepted. You can’t just buy a ticket to Europe and say goodbye to life at home for four months. First you need to find a program, preferably one that your school endorses so you can transfer credits with ease. There will be that magical program that fits your major, doesn’t add time to your degree, and is actually somewhere you want to live for a semester. Most programs just need minimum GPA, basic foreign language classes, and filling out the application.
Now you’re accepted, time to make sure they’ll let you into the country. Obviously you’re going to need a passport but if you plan on going for a whole semester odds are you are going to need a student visa. Getting one of these is no walk in the park. You’ll need to get to the nearest consulate to have them approve your visa request. A word to the wise, get this done ASAP because there are all sorts of deadlines and weird foreign holidays to delay it and you’ll save a lot of stress and time worrying if you get it out of the way ahead of time.
Studying abroad is expensive. Usually you have to pay for your own ticket and pay your college tuition plus an additional fee. Not to mention you’re probably going to be doing a lot of traveling and shopping while abroad and won’t be working so your spending will increase as well. Which means now more than ever you’ll need all those scholarships and maybe even a few extra study abroad scholarships. Luckily there are plenty of study abroad scholarships out there and transferring your existing scholarships is doable after only a couple of headache inducing trips to the bursar office.
Packing. It’s discussed in almost any study abroad article or blog post you come across because its kind of a big deal and pretty stressful. Fitting four months into one suitcase is a struggle for even the most simplistic of people but for shopaholics/fashionistas it seems impossible.