The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad and Scholarships

Guide to Studying Abroad

Decided to spend a semester or two studying abroad, but aren’t sure where to start? Studying abroad requires a lot of legwork and research.

Travelers will have to figure out which bank to use, how they will learn the language, and where they will live.

Fear not — this article will answer the big questions about studying abroad. Get ready for an incredible experience traveling across the world.

Before Going

Preparing to travel is a strange paradox. Good preparation is key to a great experience. At the same time, plans will fail, so travelers shouldn’t invest in them too heavily. Prepare, but also plan for preparations to fail.

Pay Attention to Money

The first and most obvious dilemma of travel is money. Budget sizes, credit cards, and international banks can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips:


New York Times writer Susan Heller once said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

Sadly, this quote rings true. Traveling can be expensive. Air travel, luggage, tuition, and living expenses can rack bills up fast. Travelers should make sure to budget about a thousand more dollars than they expect to spend. It’s better to have too much money than not enough during the trip.

Where to start? There are a lot of expenses, but it’s easiest to begin with the big stuff. Flights are cheap compared to the rent, tuition, and food budgets a student will need.


Those who have done research and found an appealing study abroad program may get a bit nervous when seeing the “price” page for the educational program. This should be the first thing budgeted.

Most colleges offer scholarships for students in study abroad programs. Take advantage of these. There is no better way to make a trip affordable than slashing the bottom line for school expenses.

Another option is seeing if the school offers a work-study program, which will pay the student for the work they do, often at jobs at the school library or cafeteria. It’s not glamorous work, but it’s a way to reduce the tuition bill substantially.

While on the college’s website, contact the study abroad advisor. Make sure to sort out all the paperwork before the trip. Bureaucracy is bad enough — but waiting too long and adding a language barrier to the issue will complicate matters. Sweat the small stuff. Even tiny problems should be sorted out by moving day.


What does a loaf of bread or a carton of eggs cost in the target country? Compare them to the current country’s prices for an idea of how much food will cost. Multiply that out for the length of the trip. That will be a decent place to start for a rough food budget.

Food is one budget item that can be adjusted a bit. Those who expect to eat at restaurants often should budget considerably more. Those who will eat in most of the time will save money, but they may miss opportunities to meet new people. It’s much easier to bond over food. It’s also an integral part of a country’s culture.

Try to reserve some money in the budget for the occasional restaurant meal because it may not be realistic to avoid eating out all the time.


This article will cover finding a place to live later on, but do a preliminary search to learn the basics of the housing market in the new country. What does a typical one-bedroom apartment go for? Maybe those prices will be too high, which will help immediately rule out that housing option.

This is a great time to use Google, which will be a valuable tool for planning this new adventure. Many websites offer information about housing. Some even give a personalized quote. Students who plan to study in the United States can use this quote tool.It’s the perfect starting place to find baseline prices in the area.

Scholarships and Grants

If a study abroad program seems to be too expensive, don’t give up. There are fantastic resources available to help students live out that dream. Most of these tips apply to American students; students outside of the U.S. should do some research on opportunities in their country.

The Federal Student Aid office should be the first stop. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on their website. Those who have already filled it out can find information about which funds can be used for a study abroad program there. Federal grants are the best way to get funding without much effort, so try that route first.

Next up: scholarships. Check CollegeBoard’s search tool for a list of study abroad scholarships. Make sure to use the search bar on the right-hand side to narrow the topics. As of this article’s posting, there are almost 3,000 listings returned for “study abroad.”

Students can also use FastWeb, Scholarships.com, or IIE. There’s a multitude of resources for students wanting to study abroad, so take advantage of them.



ScholarshipPoints $10,000 Scholarship
Overview: Students who are U.S. Citizens can complete a registration form to be entered into a random drawing for the scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

Green Your Getaway
Overview: Share one of their postcards with a friend. When the friend enters a keyword into the website, you’ll be entered into a sweepstakes for a $5,000 scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

Niche No Essay College Scholarship
Overview: Scholarship open to all high school and college students. Monthly $2,000 winner announced on website.
View Scholarship Details

Overview: Points earned by completing surveys can be used to enter contest drawings; up to $5,000.
View Scholarship Details

VIP Voice Scholarship
Overview: Applicants register to take surveys; two surveys eligible to compete for $5,000 scholarship sweepstakes. Must be 13 or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada.
View Scholarship Details

Owner Direct Vacation Rentals Study Away Scholarship
Overview: 600–800 word essay on why travel is important to win $500 towards study abroad expenses. Must be U.S. or Canadian full-time student over 18 to apply.
View Scholarship Details

IWC Masters Scholarships (International)
Overview: Up to two full tuition and full living costs scholarships + one full tuition scholarship; granted annually; must apply for admission into Griffith University and submit an essay; must have completed an undergraduate degree with 2 years’ professional work experience.
View Scholarship Details

CPR Certification Institute Scholarship for Health Care Professionals
Overview: $2,000 for essay winner and $300 + certification courses to 3 runners up.
View Scholarship Details

Annual CGTrader Scholarship
Overview: Write an essay on how innovative tech is transforming our lives. $2,000 to the winner and $500 to two runners up.
View Scholarship Details

Annual Community Volunteer Scholarship
Overview: $1,500 to the winner; applicants must answer questionnaire about community involvement
View Scholarship Details

Good Colleges Study Abroad Award
Overview: 150–250 word essay; $2,000 reward to winner
View Scholarship Details

The Intern Group Scholarships
Overview: Leadership grants available between $2,000 and $3,000 for Madrid, Latin America, Australia, and Hong Kong
View Scholarship Details

National CPR Foundation Healthcare and Education Scholarship Program
Overview: Current or future healthcare or educations students can apply to a monthly $500 scholarship by submitting a 500–750 word essay. Must be 18 with a 2.8 minimum GPA.
View Scholarship Details

Women in Computing Scholarship
Overview: $1,000 annual scholarship given to full-time female college students who write three 500-word-max essays.
View Scholarship Details

Smart.Study Video Contest Scholarship
Overview: $1,500 awarded to 3 winners of a semi-annual essay contest.
View Scholarship Details

Scholarship for Justice
Overview: $1,000 to a law school student with a 2.3 GPA; must submit a 2,000-word essay regarding police misconduct.
View Scholarship Details

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Minority Students
Overview: Offers a list of scholarships available exclusively to women, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students.
View Scholarship Details

Buddha Teas Fair Trade Scholarship Program
Overview: Provides a $1,000 scholarship to a different student each month for those attending a fair trade university or pursuing international studies.
View Scholarship Details

Essay Writing Contest with EssayPro
Overview: $750 in scholarships given out to three winners of an essay contest. Essays must be 600–800 words.
View Scholarship Details

Golden West Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Scholarship
Overview: Students interested in engineering, home design, architecture, plumbing, heating, or air conditioning can win $1,000 by writing an essay (under 600 words).
View Scholarship Details

Aviation Scholarship
Overview: 4 students dedicated to blogging weekly about flight training, flying, school, and aviation can win a $1,000 scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

The Bright!Tax Global Scholar Initiative
Overview: Merit-based scholarship giving money to study abroad students with a minimum GPA of 3.8/4.0 for full semester programs.
View Scholarship Details

The American Graphic Institute Design Thinking Scholarship
Overview: part-time or full-time student will be given $500 for a 500–1,500 word essay about design thinking.
View Scholarship Details

American Association of University Women
Overview: $2,000-$35,000 scholarships and grants given to graduate women.
View Scholarship Details

uVolunteer Scholarship
Overview: Submit a video showing how you made a difference in your community to win a $2,000 volunteer abroad scholarship and $600 airfare voucher.
View Scholarship Details

Advancing insights – The Nestpick Scholarship
Overview: Scholarship offering $1,500 to a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D student plus accommodation and a residency in their Berlin office. Short video introducing your research is required for submission.
View Scholarship Details

Reach Cambridge Scholarship Essay Competition
Overview: High school students between the ages of 14 and 18 can have the program fee covered for a Reach Cambridge 3-week or 2-week program. Must submit an essay.
View Scholarship Details

Online Schools Offering Laptops Essay Scholarship
Overview: Submit a 350 word essay regarding technology in the classroom for a chance to win $2,500.
View Scholarship Details

China University Scholarships
Overview: Merit-based scholarships to encourage international students to attend Chinese universities.
View Scholarship Details

Chinese Local Government Scholarships
Overview: List of scholarships for international students with a desire to study in China.
View Scholarship Details

Confucius Institute Scholarship
Overview: Scholarship to sponsor foreign students, scholars, and Chinese language teachers to study Chinese in select universities of China.
View Scholarship Details

Chinese Government Scholarships
Overview: List of scholarships to sponsor international students, teachers, and scholars to study and conduct research in Chinese universities.
View Scholarship Details

Confucius China Studies Program
Overview: Program to sponsor international students, teachers, and scholars to study in China through the Confucius Institute.
View Scholarship Details

China Enterprise Scholarships
Overview: Scholarships created by Chinese enterprises for students studying in China.
View Scholarship Details

China Foreign Government Scholarships
Overview: List of scholarships for students to undertake a period of study at a university in China.
View Scholarship Details

The Global Study Awards
Overview: StudyPortals offers students up to £10,000 to study abroad.
View Scholarship Details

Bulk Office Supply Scholarship
Overview: Students interested in teaching, art, or entrepreneurship and who complete a 500-word essay could win a $1,000 scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

Overview: Students submit a 500-word essay or short video about studying abroad for a chance at a $2,500 scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

NASP Ph.D. Scholarships in Social and Political Sciences – Italy
Overview: List of scholarships giving 13.500 Euros away per year for programs in Northern Italian universities.
View Scholarship Details

Calvin L Carrithers Aviation Scholarship
Overview: Gives $1,000 to four students dedicated to blogging on a weekly basis about flight training, flying, school, and aviation.
View Scholarship Details

Zip Conferencing Scholarship
Overview: $2,500 scholarship to one student who best answers three questions about communication technologies.
View Scholarship Details

National Debt Relief Scholarship
Overview: Merit-based scholarship giving $1,000 to outstanding students pursuing studies in STEM fields.
View Scholarship Details

IBS Starter Scholarships (ONLY FOR BACHELOR!)
Overview: Scholarship covers 50% of the first year tuition free for applicants to any Buckingham-validated English-language bachelor program of IBS. IELTS overall band score of 6.5 or TOEFL 90 iBT required.
View Scholarship Details

CustomerBloom’s Scholarship Contest
Overview: $1,000 scholarship for graduate or undergraduate students. Must upload a 2–5 minute video to apply.
View Scholarship Details

The Giving Back Program
Overview: Volunteer abroad scholarship for applicants 18–25 years old.
View Scholarship Details

Annuity.org Community Scholarship
Overview: $3,000 given to first and second place students in a 700–1,400 word essay contest about investing money intelligently.
View Scholarship Details

Tortuga Backpacks Study Abroad Scholarship
Overview: Merit-based $1,000 scholarship for students who wish to study abroad.
View Scholarship Details

Achieve Scholarship
Overview: Students can be nominated for a $1,000 scholarship to Rasmussen College.
View Scholarship Details

AIFS Scholarships
Overview: List of scholarships totaling $600,000 from AIFS for students wishing to study abroad.
View Scholarship Details

API Study Abroad Scholarships
Overview: List of merit and diversity-based scholarships totaling $335,000 from API.
View Scholarship Details

Association of Commonwealth Universities
Overview: Provides lists of scholarships from 480 universities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, the UK, Cyprus, and Malta.
View Scholarship Details

Athena Penny Scholarship
Overview: Write a 500-word essay about studying abroad in Cadiz or Kyoto for $250.
View Scholarship Details

BG Scholarship
Overview: Scholarship requires a 2.0 GPA and a 250-word essay about your academic goals and contributions to your school/community.
View Scholarship Details

Boren Scholarships and Fellowships
Overview: Students commit to working for the federal government for a minimum of a year for max awards of $30,000.
View Scholarship Details

British Council Scholarships
Overview: List of scholarships offered to students studying in the UK.
View Scholarship Details

BUNAC Educational Scholarship Trust
Overview: List of scholarships for students looking to study abroad in North America.
View Scholarship Details

BUTEX scholarship
Overview: Scholarships of £500 offered to students studying at a member university in the UK.
View Scholarship Details

Cairo University Engineering Travel Grants
Overview: Travel grants for students to study in Cairo University for History of Engineering or Civil Engineering.
View Scholarship Details

CAPA International Education
Overview: Merit and diversity-based scholarships offered to students in the U.S.
View Scholarship Details

CC-CS Scholarship ProgramSpanish Studies Scholarship Program
Overview: CC-CS students can apply to a list of scholarships based on either diversity or merit.
View Scholarship Details

CFHI Global Health Program
Overview: Scholarships for internship-style programs in clinics in Latin America, India, and South Africa.
View Scholarship Details

Adenauer Fellowship
Overview: 6000€ tuition coverage and 500€ semester grants offered for citizens of certain Asian countries who are pursuing a graduate or postgraduate program and have two years of work experience in their respective field.
View Scholarship Details

Charles Braver Language Exploration Grants
Overview: Students enrolled in any regular SRAS program who demonstrate goals of learning about Russia are eligible for a $500 grant.
View Scholarship Details

CIEE Global Access Initiative [GAIN] Scholarship
Overview: Grants and need-based scholarships given to students who wish to study abroad.
View Scholarship Details

CIEE Language Intensive Focus Track [LIFT] Scholarship
Overview: Grants and need-based scholarships given to students who wish to study abroad.
View Scholarship Details

Critical Language Scholarship Program
Overview: Scholarships available for 7–10 week cultural immersion programs to learn a language.
View Scholarship Details

DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service
Overview: Students wishing to study abroad in Germany are eligible for a list of long term or semesterly scholarships.
View Scholarship Details

“Define Yourself” Scholarship
Overview: Post your school progress and accomplishments each month for a chance to win a $500 scholarship. Open to high school and college students.
View Scholarship Details

Dr. Castañeda Scholarship
Overview: Grants and scholarships available based on scholastic achievement and need for students wishing to study abroad.
View Scholarship Details

Finland US Senate Youth Exchange
Overview: Scholarship to study in Finland for the summer. Open to high school sophomores and juniors with a 3.2 GPA.
View Scholarship Details

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
Overview: Apply through your home university for a foreign language or international studies fellowship.
View Scholarship Details

Overview: Scholarships available for students wishing to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia; amounts between $3,000 and $7,000.
View Scholarship Details

Fund for Education Abroad Scholarships
Overview: Scholarships available for minority students wishing to study abroad; amounts between $5,000 and $10,000.
View Scholarship Details

Overview: Scholarships available for students wishing to study abroad in Australia.
View Scholarship Details

Gilman International Scholarship Program
Overview: Scholarships of up to $5,000 available for students wishing to study abroad.
View Scholarship Details

Greenpal Business Scholarship
Overview: Scholarship of $2,000 awarded to student with interest in entrepreneurship and a GPA of 3.0.
View Scholarship Details

IAF Grassroots Development Fellowship Program
Overview: Candidates for Ph.D degrees from U.S. universities as they conduct dissertation research are eligible for a research allowance of up to $3,000.
View Scholarship Details

Imperial Education Services – Study in Cyprus Scholarship
Overview: African students are eligible for 25%–80% tuition scholarship to study in Cyprus.
View Scholarship Details

International WaterCentre’s Masters Scholarships
Overview: Scholarships given to students accepted into the Master of Integrated Water Management program at IWC.
View Scholarship Details

International MA Program in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible Scholarship
Overview: Merit-based scholarships available to students wishing to study in Tel Aviv University.
View Scholarship Details

ISA Diversity Scholarships
Overview: Scholarships and grants offered to students participating in one or more ISA program.
View Scholarship Details

Japan-American Friendship Scholars (JAFS)
Overview: Scholarships available for students with 1 year of Japanese language education to study abroad in Japan for a summer.
View Scholarship Details

John Cabot University Rome
Overview: Students wishing to study abroad in Rome are eligible for scholarships between $500 and $2,000.
View Scholarship Details

KCP Scholarships
Overview: Merit-based scholarships for students enrolling in the KCP program.
View Scholarship Details

Key Club/Key Leader Scholarship

Overview: Students who are members of Key Club can receive a partial scholarship to study abroad in the country of their choice.
View Scholarship Details

Kikkoman National
Overview: Full scholarship to study in Japan available for members of Family Careers and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).
View Scholarship Details

Mazda/Nationwide Scholarship
Overview: Full scholarship available to FCCLA members to study abroad in Japan for the summer.
View Scholarship Details

Michele Lavagnilio Charitable Service Scholarship
Overview: Student with a history of community service is eligible for a study abroad scholarship in Italy.
View Scholarship Details

NGO Scholarship Programs
Overview: 3 $750 scholarships available to students participating in SRAS’s NGO and Cultural Internships program; must contribute weekly blog entries and a summation essay at the end of the program.
View Scholarship Details

Okinawa Peace Scholarship Program
Overview: Scholarship to study in Okinawa for a summer; must have a 3.0 GPA to apply.
View Scholarship Details

ORA Summer School Scholarship
Overview: Oxford Royale Academy students are eligible for a full academic scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant
Overview: Study abroad grants of $1,000 awarded to undergraduate students.
View Scholarship Details

Ping Foundation: CIEE International Study Program Scholarships
Overview: CIEE study abroad program participants demonstrating academic excellence and financial need eligible for study abroad scholarships.
View Scholarship Details

Randolph College Grant
Overview: FAFSA filers eligible for academic and need-based grants up to a maximum of $16,995 for a full academic year.
View Scholarship Details

Short-Term Service Scholarship
Overview: Students devote a day towards a service project of their choosing and write a 200-word essay to become eligible for a scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

Sibling and Repeat Student Grants
Overview: ISA and ELAP offers grants to students who have previously participated in their programs.
View Scholarship Details

SRAS Research Grants
Overview: $1,000 research grants given to students wishing to conduct research abroad.
View Scholarship Details

Study Abroad Europe Scholarship
Overview: Students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher can apply for study abroad scholarships between $250 and $1,000.
View Scholarship Details

Sustainability Laboratory Fellowship Scholarship
Overview: Scholarship available to participants in the Global Sustainability Fellows Program.
View Scholarship Details

The Dr. Carlos E. Castañeda Memorial Scholarship and Correspondent Internship Opportunity
Overview: $45,000 merit and need-based scholarships offered annually to be used towards ISA programs.
View Scholarship Details

The Michaela Farnum Memorial Scholarship
Overview: $5,000 offered to be used towards ISA summer programs; scholarships are merit and need-based.
View Scholarship Details

USAC Scholarships
Overview: Scholarships available for students to cover study abroad expenses on a USAC program.
View Scholarship Details

Vincent I. Benander Learning Scholarship $1,000
Overview: Athena students who demonstrate a “love of learning” are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

YFU Americans
Overview: Partial scholarship available for a summer program in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay, or Venezuela; open to all US high school students.
View Scholarship Details

YFU Stiftung
Overview: Partial scholarship for Key Club/Key Leader for minority students to study in Germany for a year or semester.
View Scholarship Details

YFU Stipendium
Overview: Partial scholarship to study abroad in Germany available to high school students with a 3.0 GPA.
View Scholarship Details

Youth For Understanding Scholarships
Overview: List of merit-based scholarships for an exchange program.
View Scholarship Details

Yunus Emre Turkish Language Scholarship Program
Overview: Scholarships available to students wishing to study Turkish Language.
View Scholarship Details

Costa Rican Vacations Scholarship Program
Overview: Two scholarships of $1,000 available to students pursuing a career in tourism, hospitality, or sustainable development.
View Scholarship Details

Saltire Scholarship
Overview: £4,000 scholarships given to students wishing to study abroad in Scotland; students must be from Canada, China, India, Pakistan, or the U.S.
View Scholarship Details

Sales Training and Development Scholarship
Overview: Students pursuing a career in business or teaching are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship.
View Scholarship Details

Bank Fees and Cards

Certain banks charge fees for foreign transactions and ATM withdrawals, which can quickly eat into the budget. Here is a list of travel-friendly banks that will help students avoid those pitfalls.

Getting a credit card for emergencies or to earn those rewards points is a smart idea. For those who exercise some discipline, a credit card can earn them some free goodies or get them out of a bind. Find a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees through this list.

Students who want to open a bank account in their target country will need a few things. Scan most of these items and keep the documents on hand during the trip.

Every country will be different, but most of them will want a combination of the following documents:

  • Proof of identity, including a passport, driver’s license, or birth certificate.
  • Proof of student status – a valid student visa will do, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep a copy of the acceptance letter from the university.
  • Proof of address from a rental agreement.

This list isn’t exhaustive, so look up the requirements for the target country. When in doubt, more documentation is always better.

School Planning

As mentioned above, get the bureaucracy out of the way as soon as possible. That means everything from applications to class schedules.

Those with scholarship opportunities should apply as early as possible. Don’t just assume any awarded scholarships will reach the university – call the university’s registrar and make sure they’ve received the funds. Don’t arrive at the school assuming everything is taken care of financially. That could be a nightmare to deal with in the first days or weeks of the studying abroad opportunity.

Finally, lay out the class schedule early in the process. Arriving in the new country will be overwhelming enough. There’s no need to add the extra stress of add/drop deadlines on top of that. Plus, having a schedule in place will help students who need to work a part-time job. They’ll be able to tell prospective employers which hours they can and cannot work.

Flight Planning

Students may have heard a few travel hacks for buying cheap flights. Unfortunately, most of them are myths. For example, there’s no evidence that buying flights on a Tuesday saves any money.

Don’t worry about finding the right day to buy tickets — look at the arrival day instead because it holds much more weight in the flight price calculation.

Since the semester probably starts in either August or January, students won’t likely be able to choose their move date.

When it comes to flights, travel seasons often decide the prices. August flights are at the season’s peak, but January flights are in the off-season.

Students who can be flexible with their arrival time should look a few days ahead and a few days behind their target arrival date. Since volume factors into prices, they could save a bunch of money by moving their date forward or back.

Once again, online search tools can be a student’s best friend when it comes to finding cheap flights. Sites like Expedia, Skyscanner, and Google have price comparison tools students can use to find the right airline.


This is the nitty-gritty of traveling. Students who get all their documentation in order, though, will be able to enjoy a pretty carefree trip.

First, get your passport or renew it far in advance. The government is in no rush to get that to travelers, even with expedited shipping. The U.S. Department of State says they’ll deliver a passport in 6 to 8 weeks, but it can take up to two weeks for a traveler’s information to show up in the system. The best bet is submitting the paperwork no less than three months before the trip.

As mentioned earlier, travelers should find their birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, university acceptance letter, flight information, and rental agreement. Scan them and get the copies laminated. It may seem like overkill, but many travelers end up stranded due to stolen or lost documents. Pack the original documents and laminated copies in different places in case of theft.

Learn the Culture

This is where students traveling abroad can start having some fun. It’s exciting to learn about a new culture. To get the most out of the experience abroad, students should spend some time learning how the people there live.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home,” James Michener once said.

There are free apps to download for language lessons. Students should use them in their spare time to get the basics down. Don’t listen to anyone who says travelers must be fluent in their new country’s language. While that is ideal, people in other countries are generally patient and understanding. If a traveler is making an effort to learn and adapt, they’ll be delighted and much more likely to help.

Keep practicing the language, even when mispronouncing certain words. With a new language, students won’t get everything right, but they can find people willing to practice with them if they ask nicely.

Those who already have a basic understanding of the language but want more practice before leaving can connect with language partners through a service like Conversation Exchange or The Mixxer. They’ll help students become conversationally fluent, so they can be more confident speaking the native tongue before they step on the plane.

Language is an important part of a country’s culture, but so are food, dancing, art, music, and history. Go further than the Wikipedia page and find out what makes the people there tick. Learn what the neighboring countries are, who their influential leaders were, and what attitudes they have. The World Culture Encyclopedia can be a great resource.

Packing and Clothing

Focus on the essentials to avoid overpacking. What season is it in the target country? Remember, it could be the opposite of the current country.

Pack some rugged travel clothes and some casual “on-the-street” clothes. Throw in a smart cocktail outfit for the fancier clubs. Remember, students can always buy more toiletries when they get there.

Pack about a week’s worth of clothing to start with. To save on space, consider travel cubes, which are small zippered bags that organize the belongings inside a suitcase or backpack. This way, travelers can take all their clothes out at once to reach their toiletries. When they’re done, they can put them right back the way they were.

Anyone who has spent time reading travel blogs has learned the rolling technique for clothes. Here is a great how-to article on proper rolling. This will allow travelers to save space in their bag while keeping their clothes tidy and wrinkle-free.

Finally, invest in a hanging toiletry bag for travel. This will come in handy for side trips while studying abroad. A hanging bag can organize bathroom items to keep them out of the way. Experienced travelers know it’s easy to run out of bathroom counter space while traveling, but there is always a place to put a hook. The toiletry bag allows them to maximize space.


Never compromise on safety. These next few sections will focus on how to keep travelers and their property away from danger.

Travel Advisories

The first place to look when thinking about a trip is the Travel Advisories page on the U.S. State Department’s website. The government operates on an advisory scale of 1 to 4.

No. 1 means travelers have little worry when it comes to safety. No. 2 means they should exercise caution. It’s unlikely the study abroad program will take students to a country in the 3 to 4 range, but world events can change quickly. Make sure there is no immediate danger and find a way to get informed about any risks that happen during the stay.

Locks and Safes

Buy mini travel locks to put on suitcases and bags. Even while traveling to an area without high crime rates, opportunistic thieves are still out there. The locks only take travelers a second or two to remove. They could make the difference between a wonderful trip and one filled with regret.

It’s likely the student’s house or apartment won’t have a safe. They should consider buying one when they land. This way, they can lock up their laptop and important documents when they leave the house. The peace of mind will let them focus on their adventure.

Security Devices

Be careful what is used for personal protection in the target location. Countries like Canada and the United Kingdom have almost completely banned pepper spray. Others have banned tasers, concealed knives, and firearms. Do research before packing bags.


Where to stay is one of the most important parts of the study abroad experience The question haunts every student at some point. The next few sections will give enough information for students to find the perfect home base.

There are three primary options for a new home when studying abroad – a homestay, a student dorm, or a single apartment. Each has pros and cons. Ultimately, the decision will come down to what kind of experience the student wants.


Students who want an intimate environment that gives them a picture of how local families in the area live may want to choose a homestay.

Homestays are like an exchange student program. Students are paired with a host family near their university. They’ll likely have their own room. They may even have their own bathroom.

The best thing about living with a host family is the source of information students can access. The people they will stay with have extensive knowledge of the area. They’ll immediately know the best places to eat, drink, shop, and explore.

There are quite a few drawbacks, though. Unlike the other two options, a homestay means a student will live under another family’s roof. If the student doesn’t like their rules? That’s too bad. They will have to abide by whatever customs and laws the family sets up for them.

It’s worth mentioning that there is a difference in privacy as well. Students may have their own room and bathroom, but they may also have to share them. They won’t be able to have friends over any time they please, either. They must be respectful of a family that probably works and sleeps at different hours than they do.

Still, homestays can be great for those who want a familial atmosphere and a head start on city knowledge.

Student Dorms

Those who are willing to trade cost for convenience may find student dorms are their best bet.

The university will almost certainly have a list of affiliate dorms for students to pick from. They’ll be able to choose what type of living situation they want. Most include roommates, but some universities offer single rooms and bathrooms. The process will be easy, but there’s a catch – student dorms are expensive.

They will almost always come at a higher cost than ordinary family apartments. Those who think they’ve found low-cost student housing near the university should do their research. Look up the prices of similar apartments in the area. If the price still looks reasonable, it might be worth it.

Bear in mind, with student dorms; some students may find themselves living with other people whose personalities may not mesh with theirs. They may also have to follow the university’s curfew. Student living can be an easy way to make friends, though. Try to contact future roommates ahead of time to get a feel for their lifestyle.


Those who want to come and go as they please while saving a bit of money may find apartments are the best choice.

Apartments give the most freedom abroad while staying affordable. Students don’t have to tack on extra fees for apartments. They can go for convenience with a furnished space or go unfurnished and decorate it themselves. They can find international roommates to stay with (or local, if they make the right connections) or live alone.

Apartments do have some downsides. First, they won’t get any help finding a place. They’ll be on their own to do the search and sign the lease. Second, it’s easy to get homesick when living alone. Put in extra effort to make friends and join in activities.

Even though it can get lonely, living alone can also be liberating. It’ll help students take on more responsibility and learn to manage a place without help.

While You’re There

Ready to hop on a flight? Now, the real fun begins.

Medicine and Insurance

Students who need health care in their new country should contact their embassy for information. They’ll tell them how to contact doctors that speak their language and can care for travelers. Students can also ask their classmates for recommendations.

Those who are traveling with valuable items may want to buy insurance. Be sure to read the fine print, though. There are often exclusions and conditions that travelers overlook before purchasing.

Enjoy the Experience

Traveling abroad is an opportunity few people have in their lifetimes. Enjoy it. Go out, even if it can feel uncomfortable or scary. Explore unknown areas and meet as many people as possible. Don’t be haunted someday by missed opportunities.

Students who are comfortable with it should travel alone for a while. It’s refreshing to pick the destination without someone else influencing the decision.


Yes, travel even more than the school’s city. Flights are cheap when travelers stay on one continent, so hop around on weekends and take advantage of that location. There will be incredible places just around the corner.

Document Everything

Finally, be a documentarian. Travelers don’t need to have an expensive camera or a bomb-proof laptop. All they need is some paper, a pen, and their phone.

Journal every day, or at least every day something significant happens, which will probably be every day. Take a photo of that weird toilet and the strange trash cans on the street. Even mundane things will make a great memory one day.

Please see our infographic below for this article summary.



Comments are closed.