As you get ready to pack your bags and head out on your study abroad adventure, here are some fun and quirky ways to prepare for your travels.
1. Read Up on Some Travel Guidebooks
Travel guidebooks are an amazing way to read up on what to do and where to go during your study abroad preparation. They can offer some super insightful information on festivals, tourist destinations, local must-sees and so much more. Travel guidebooks can be about the city, country, or continent you’ll be visiting. Some travel guidebooks can be expensive, so see if your local library has a few you can borrow, or even look into second-hand bookstores, both in person or online such. I recommend thriftbooks.com.
2. Watch Movies
Watching films from your study abroad destination is a fun way to pick up on the language or slang and get an insight into the culture and customs. Of course, films aren’t always exactly how life is on the other side, but they can still be super educational and entertaining to watch.
Also, during your study abroad preparation, be sure to watch films that were filmed where you’re going. I’m heading to New Zealand this Spring semester, so I’m trying to watch all the Lord of The Rings that I can, which is a movie franchise famously filmed in New Zealand.
Some movie streaming services have student discounts, but if you don’t have access to any, once again your local library might have some international films to check out.
Piggybacking off of international films, YouTube is also a great way to do some research. Certain websites allow you to find the top YouTubers in any given country. Whether you get some inspiration for where to visit from vloggers or pick up on the language and slang from makeup and gaming videos, there is always something to be learned.
Pro-tip: Be sure to subscribe to the AIFS Study Abroad YouTube channel for vlogs and videos from current students and alumni!
4. Deep Dive into Your Host University’s International Education or Study Abroad Page
Check out the section of your host university’s website that’s geared toward international students. Most schools have loads of resources for international and study abroad students such as advice on steps to take before traveling, things to do in the area, and on-campus programs.
With my host university in Wellington, I was also able to find scholarships specifically for study abroad students and went on to apply and get accepted! With some universities, you can also request a copy of their international prospectus to be sent to you. Although the international prospectus is designed more for students still deciding where and what to study, it also has information about the area you’ll be studying in, information about your program, and so much more. If you’re looking to be sustainable, most universities also just let you download it.
5. Tourism Board Websites
Check out the tourism board website for the city and country where you’ll be studying abroad. They have some super fun pre-planned trip ideas, resources for the best way to travel around, and maps full of great places to stop by. With the New Zealand tourism board, I was actually able to have a tourism map sent to me for free, but this really varies from place to place.
Depending on where you are located, this option may not be as accessible, but try to see if a local museum has any art from your study abroad location during the preparation phase. Studying art is a great way to better understand the history and culture of a place. Plus, it will get your eyes warmed up and ready to better understand and analyze all the incredible art you are sure to see during your travels once you’re abroad!
Make sure to ask if your local museum has student discount admission prices. You can then, once again, head over to your local library to see if free or discounted museum passes are available to be checked out.
Food is an incredible way to learn and experience the culture. As you’re preparing to study abroad, considering heading over to an authentic restaurant whose cuisine is similar to the region you’ll going to.
If your waiter speaks the language of your host study abroad host country, try and get some practice ordering food and conversing! Eating the authentic cuisine can give you an idea of what the food may be like abroad. It can help you get adjusted and excited for all the incredible grub soon to come.
Baking and cooking at home is also super fun and a great way to get to experiment with fun new ingredients and methods you may not have thought to try before. Plus, when you venture off to eat the real deal while abroad, you’ll appreciate the food so much more knowing what goes into it!
Now I may be a little biased being an AIFS Blogger myself, but blogs are an incredible way to learn about where you’re heading and get ideas on what to do from the people who have done them. They can provide some really great advice, tips and tricks, and cool ideas on things to do while you’re overseas. The AIFS blog is great for study abroad preparation because so many of the posts are written by current or former students, which provides a relatable perspective.