Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Study Abroad: I'm Accepted, Now What?

A major reason I started this blog was to chronicle my upcoming study abroad trip, since I often could not find personal resources when I was searching. This part of a series of posts leading up to my departure.

I've been accepted! Now what? Once accepted, there's almost a feeling of being overwhelmed, even though at the same time you may feel as though there's nothing to do now that your search is over

First, check whatever your program gives you. Many sites will have a portal or homepage once you've been accepted--don't delay and make sure you investigate! There is paperwork to be filled out--lots and lots of paperwork. I'll skip over the details, since each program will be different and, at least in USAC's case, explain things clearly.

But non-paperwork stuff? Where do you begin? Do you know anything about where you're traveling? One of the documents provided to me listed helpful websites, including some about Luneburg. Check them out. You gain nothing by ignoring them, unless your goal is to make yourself look ignorant.

If possible, contact former students. My program advisor was able to provide me a list of previous students whom I emailed with things that I still didn't know:
*How much German did you use in everyday life?
*The website includes an estimate of money you'll spend, do you think it's accurate?
*Concerns about transportation?
*Since we had to fill out housing preferences, where would you recommend living?
*What do you wish you had known before, or what didn't the program tell you that you wish you'd known?

And since you're emailing people, if you have (or can obtain) a list of other participants for your stay, there's safety in numbers! If you're arriving, as I will be, away from where you'll be staying, see if you can meet up with at least one other person. You'll have someone else who's feeling as awkward as you, not to mention they may be awesome at reading maps.

Also you can use them as basilisk bait

 And again...research, research, research! Other countries often have different plugs/voltage, so check on that. Try to find out cultural differences between your country and your host country. Hit up travel or study abroad websites and groups asking for common mistakes or advice--do you tip? Is the "OK" gesture obscene?

Lastly, try not to panic. It can be hard to avoid, but at least try to.

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