The final week before leaving for a long study abroad can be very daunting. One of my main concerns was that I would be forgetting important paperwork. (I know this next part can seem crazy, but honestly, I may have been a little crazy with excitement and anxiety at the time) I had this irrational fear that I would be sent all the way home back to America if I was missing any paperwork that I was asked for, as if this 1st world country didn’t have a copy or print store. (I know its extreme, but I really did wonder these things at times, it’s the equivalent of the ridiculous nightmare of walking into class and realizing you forgot your pants.) To help ease these nightmares and anxiety, I usually double check everything. Seeing it all again can really help things stay organized and can help with anxious feelings. Or you could just be super relaxed and not stress about it at all… I wish.
Go over all of the paperwork you’ll need. The best way to do this is to go back through contact e-mails from your advisor at your university abroad. I found a lot of paperwork that would be required to get me set up in France once I got there. Of course, I already had all of this ready to go, but it was helpful to read the list and know that I was ready.
Once you’ve finished with school documents, double check your Identification paperwork. Be sure you have your Passport + copies of important pages, visa + copies, a couple copies of your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if it applies), and any other ID forms your school or French Consulate asks for. A lot of these documents will usually be things you already have because you were asked for them at your visa appointment or when you applied for the study abroad, so also keep in mind to hold onto these things after those events.
Confirming Flights, Hotels, Trains etc.
Now you have all of your important documents so don’t forget the part about how you are getting to your destination. For my travel to France, we have to take a plane with a connection in Chicago, then a 3 hour train ride with a switch along the way. Knowing this, I was sure to have all of my travel confirmation papers that had seat, ticket and reference numbers in case anything went wrong. I did not want to get stuck in a foreign country with no idea what was going on.
The best way to stay informed is to stay organized. It is a great feeling when asked for your ticket or specific item for your trip and you know exactly where to look for it.
Final Packing List
Finally, make sure you’ve packed everything you don’t want to buy abroad, or at least enough to give you a good enough start in your new area. Remember, don’t stress too much (I need to make this my mantra!) unless you are going to a 3rd world country, then you can most likely buy anything you forgot when you get there. Even most third world countries have the basics of what you may need, you can always figure it out. With that being said, if you don’t pack something simply because you think you can just buy it there, be cautious of pricing. Even things like notebooks cost more than what we are used to in the United States. Just something to keep in mind.
Okay, so you feel ready for your trip now? Good, now relax, spend time with family before you go and enjoy your flight. For tips on how to travel comfortable, check out the next blog post. Bonjour!