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study abroad

Other Student Life

How To Be Financially Smart Before and During Study Abroad

July 8, 2021

Before Study abroad 

Most students will want to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in college. It is such an exciting opportunity that we can tend to get ahead of ourselves by daydreaming about the places we will travel to, planning out our Instagram poses, and begging our friends to come out and visit us. But what we can sometimes forget to do is start budgeting and saving up money for our travels before the semester abroad rolls around.

Summer work

If you are financing your study abroad, try to have at least three months prior where you can work consistently and set aside the money you make. Many students already know a year or so in advance that they are going to study abroad. Utilize the summer before the fall or spring term that you are studying abroad to work as often as you can so that you are able to save up as much as possible . Some days might be difficult if you are working 5-6 days a week and eight hours a day, but set your phone background as a picture of Europe, and remember that all the long hours will pay off when you are traveling the world for a semester.

Cutting out unnecessary expenses

In order to save as much as you can before getting on your plane to start your travels, there are a few expenses you can limit that we do not realize make a dent in our bank account: 

  • $5 dollar daily coffee 
  • Takeout/Eating out 
  • Limit your spending on social outings to twice a month instead of once each week
  • Shopping. You might feel like you need new clothes for your travels, but you will probably buy plenty in the countries you visit 

Apply for scholarships 

Schools like to show their support for study abroad programs by providing ample scholarship opportunities to their students. Look into your specific school program and try to apply to as many scholarships as you can.  There are many different amounts that students may receive, and any opportunity for aid should not be passed up. Even being awarded $200 will pay for a  fun experience, such as a weekend airbnb in Italy and most scholarships will award you more than that. 

During Study Abroad 

Budgeting is a long-term necessity. Saving your money while you are traveling is just as important as saving it before you go out and explore. It is easy to drain your wallet in the excitement that comes with being abroad, but following a few easy steps can help you be financially responsible. 

Create a budget 

During the week, give yourself a limit on the amount of money you spend going out to get food and drinks. Eating out and getting drinks tends to be a daily activity and can add up quickly, so make sure to keep track of this so that you avoid draining your travel money on things such as fancy pasta for lunch everyday.

Fly smart 

There is no need to book with expensive airlines, Although it may seem too good to be true, there are flights that will get you to the same location for as low as $30. RyanAir, for example, is a popular airline in Europe with competitive prices. Another practice to avoid expensive flights is to try and fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays as these days tend to be cheaper. 

Book airbnbs or private hostel rooms 

Many students do not love the idea of staying in a hostel and so they think they will be spending more on hotels. This, surprisingly, is not the case. Airbnbs are safe and inexpensive options all over Europe. Look into any reviews and check the location with popular tourist spots. Also, hostels have the option of private, two person rooms, which is an option people are more comfortable with rather than spending more on a private hotel room.

Saving money both before and during study abroad can be done easily and efficiently if you keep in mind these simple tips. It is important to always remember why you are saving money as staying focused on your goal can motivate you to keep up your progress. These budgeting tips and other methods of saving money for school programs and activities can also be applied throughout your life in many different areas. 

Safe travels and happy saving!

BIO: Elie Corbett is a senior at Northern Arizona University majoring in Marketing. She is interning at GradGuard for the summer. She loves to spend time with her friends,  travel, and go to concerts!

Student Life

How to Experience Study Abroad From Home

March 1, 2021

Many students were forced to give up their study abroad experiences amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be hard to have to stay home when you were previously dreaming of eating pasta in Italy or exploring museums in London. Although you may not be able to travel at the moment, there are a few things you can do to bring the study abroad experience to you.

Take a Cooking Class

One of the best ways to explore a new culture is through food. This past year many more cooking experiences have become available from chefs all over the world. If you have been dreaming of the perfect ravioli, there is no need to wait to fly across the world. ​Airbnb​ is currently offering international cooking classes, as well as websites like ​Cozymeal​.

Tour a Museum Virtually

Many museums are currently offering virtual tours that allow you to still experience culture and art from the comfort of your own room. Check out the Mona Lisa at ​The Louvre​ in Paris or the Rosetta Stone at ​the British Museum​.

Explore Markets Online

What is a trip abroad without some souvenirs? Many famous markets such as the Old Spitalfields​ and ​Portabello Market​ in London have gone virtual.

Find a Pen Pal

Make an international friend by finding your own pen pal! Use a website like PenPal World​, to connect with someone new. This can also be a great opportunity to practice a new language.

Get Lost in a Good Book or Movie

A book or movie can easily transport you to a different place. Explore media that can teach you more about a new culture and provide an escape from your routine. Opt for a foreign film and watch it with subtitles!

Although it can be disappointing when you have to cancel an experience that you have been looking forward to, it can be helpful to look to the future and hold out hope for future trips and new adventures. Check out more of our ​articles​ for tips on study abroad and navigating college life during COVID-19.


6 Smart Packing Tips if You’re Going to Study Abroad

September 10, 2020

Were you given the opportunity to study abroad? If so, you are probably counting down the days until you leave.

Which now brings us to the question: What will you bring? 

Trying to stuff all the things that you need into your suitcase or carry-on can probably be daunting, especially if you are unsure what is waiting for you the moment you step off the plane. 

Fortunately, we have come up with six smart packing tips to make everything a lot easier:

Pack for the Weather

Make sure that you research first the usual climate in the new city or country you are moving to, then plan accordingly. We suggest that you bring a light raincoat, a warm jacket, and items that can be easily layered. Remember that the climate of your study abroad country will make or break what you pack. 

Check Cultural Norms

If you are traveling to a country that is more conservative with how they dress, checking the cultural norms first will save you from packing items that will deem inappropriate in that country. This especially applies to clothes like shorts, dresses, and swimwear. 

The last thing that you want to do is to wear culturally insensitive clothes. For instance, you will not be allowed inside spiritual areas like churches or temples if you are not all covered up properly. 

Use the 12-Day Trick

We suggest that you pack outfits that are good for 12 days. That’s about two weeks worth of clothes. No matter how long you will be staying or studying abroad, chances are, packing outfits that are good for 12 days will be enough for you to attend class and explore the new place. 

If you feel tempted to pack beyond 12 days, then you might consider that shopping abroad is also part of the experience. 

Pack the Essential Documents

When studying abroad, you might need an extensive list of documentation. This list will often include:

  • Passport: This is your first key to studying abroad. Without this, you cannot travel outside of the country.
  • Visa: Depending on your country of origin, some countries won’t require you to have a visa. However, you might need to apply for a student visa since you’ll be studying abroad.
  • Medical Certificate: This is proof that you took flu shots and that you are healthy enough to travel.
  • Return Flight Details: Although not all, there are countries that require return flight details. This is to ensure that you won’t be overstaying.
  • Student Finance Documentation: You might also be required to prove that you can financially support yourself while studying abroad. This includes a letter to prove the capability for financial support from your parents or guardians.
  • University Letter of Acceptance: This is another proof that you are to stay in a country to study. 

Don’t Pack Things You can Buy

So you might want to pack a certain brand of shampoo or lotion you are using. But the thing is, these can also weigh down your suitcase. To avoid excess baggage fees, leave some of these items behind. Instead, opt to buy local products at grocery stores or drugstores once you arrive.

But you should also consider bringing travel sizes of these essentials. That way, you will have plenty of time to settle in once you arrive where you are studying. You will not have to run to the nearest grocery or drugstore to buy these essentials. 

Bring Your Gadgets

For most gadgets and appliances (curling irons, razors, and hair dryers), you might need a voltage converter. Usually, plugs from different countries are different, so is the amperage. 

Make sure to check with the manufacturer; more than likely you will find information on their sites about travel. That way, you will know whether or not a certain device can work with a converter. If it is not, it could potentially become a fire hazard, and might even destroy your appliance. 

Packing your stuff when you leave to study abroad can be challenging, but you can breathe in a sigh of relief once you are done. So, better get your suitcase ready, and prepare yourself as your educational adventure begins!

Student Life

How To Make the Most of Study Abroad

August 27, 2020

Many students have the privilege to study abroad during their time in college. Studying abroad is a great way to fully experience a different culture for an extended period of time. When studying abroad you will likely have a million things you want to do. It is important to be thoughtful about how you are spending your time in order to get the most out of the experience. 

Here are 5 tips on how to maximize your time abroad:

  1. Plan ahead

It can be really helpful to plan your trips and excursions ahead of time. Once you settle into your new city and meet people who share your interests and want to travel, you can meet up with them and create a plan of cities you want to visit and how you want to spend your weekends. Although it may seem like you have all the time in the world to travel, you do only have a limited amount of time. A calendar of your trips can be helpful in making sure you visit the places you most want to see and that you can make accommodations far enough in advance to avoid hefty prices. 

  1. Take time to explore your own city

Although it may be tempting to travel to a different city every weekend, this can end up being too tiring and too expensive. Make the most of the city you are in and set aside weekends to explore. Try to look beyond the tourist spots in your city and take the advice of a local to get a more authentic experience.

  1. Walk!

Walking is a great way to explore a new city. If it is safe to do so, try to ditch the ubers and public transit and walk from place to place. This will allow you to stumble upon fascinating places you would not have seen otherwise and will also help you stay active. 

  1. Ditch the fast food

Did you really travel across the world to eat McDonalds? While abroad try to embrace local cuisine as much as possible. Although it can feel comforting to eat the types of food you are used to having back home, you won’t regret making an effort to eat new types of food. Eating like a local will help you to more fully embrace a new culture. 

  1. Choose your classes wisely

Sometimes when you are studying abroad it can be easy to forget the “study” part of your experience. It is important to stay engaged with your classes and an easy way to do this is to pick classes that incorporate the city you will be living in. This can be a history, art, or even a cooking class!

All of these tips will be helpful in having a fulfilling time abroad. Remember to soak up this once in a lifetime opportunity and do your best to stay safe and healthy throughout the experience. 

Other Safety

The Most Common Myths about Studying Abroad

June 18, 2017

What’s your biggest motivation for studying abroad? Of course, you want to get a high-quality education, but be honest: is that the only thing? If you’re like most other students, you want your studies to be the best adventure of your life. If a university accepts your application, you’ll get a chance to be part of that country’s culture.

You’re not wrong thinking this will be one of the most exciting adventures of your life. However, you’re probably thinking other things that will turn out a bit differently in reality. There are common myths about studying abroad, which we’ll unveil today.

  1. People Won’t Like You

If you browse through the Internet, you’ll start thinking that people from other countries don’t like international students that much. There’s a never-ending debate on this issue. As a foreigner, you’ll be contributing to this country’s economy, but some people will think you’re taking the seat of a native who deserves to be in that university.

This is not the impression you’ll get on campus. People will write anything online. In reality, international students contribute towards the diversity of the campus, and that’s what every university in the world wants to achieve. You’ll make the natives aware of the problems other countries face, and you’ll help them consider different points of view. International students are great contributors in productive classroom discussions.

  1. It Will Be Hard to Make Friends

Do you have the impression that foreign students stick with their own clique? That will be true only if you allow it to be. You can locate people from your country and the countries close to it, so you’ll feel the connection to your culture. However, that doesn’t mean that the native students will be hostile towards you. They will be very interested to know more about your country. You just need to give them a chance, and you’ll make friendships for life.

  1. “I’ll Just Do What Everyone Else Is Doing”

You’ll attend classes, take exams, write projects… how hard could it be? Everyone else will be doing the same thing, so you’ll handle the challenges, too. It may not be as easy as you perceive it. Think about it: the native students already have the needed foundation for writing academic papers. You, on the other hand, will have to write in a foreign language and adopt a different manner of expression.

Cathy Laurens, a writer for BestEssays, explains that international students face real struggles with academic writing. “They are just not ready for it, and the universities are not giving them the support and training they need. These academic papers are not impossible to write, but an international student has to invest double the effort a native puts in.”

  1. You’ll Have the Fun of Your Life

Think about it: you’ll be attending classes every day, and you’ll be studying like a maniac for tests and exams. You’ll have to write dozens of important projects each semester. Do you think you’ll have time to act like the college students you’re seeing on movies? Think again!

You will get enough time for friendships and hangouts. However, if you’re truly committed to your studies, you’ll need to shift your definition of fun. You can’t expect to attend wild parties every weekend and get sober just on time to study for the upcoming exam.

  1. It’s an Expensive Adventure

It will be if your family is taking care of all the finances. There’s an opinion that international students are rich. They can afford to pay thousands of dollars for tuition, and double that amount to cover their living expenses. In reality, many international students are getting top-level education thanks to scholarship programs.

The universities themselves include these types of financial aid to attract more international students their way. In addition, there are many other scholarship programs provided by governmental and private organizations.

  1. It’s Not Safe

You think your own town is the safest place on Earth? We all have the same feeling, simply because we don’t know what it’s like to live elsewhere. There are always parts of the world you’d like to avoid if you want to be safe, but you’re not signing up to be a photographer on a battlefield. If the country is relatively safe, you can expect the university campuses to be really safe. It is also worth knowing that the GradGuard renter’s insurance program that is most likely offered through your college and university provides world-wide property coverage.  So in case your backpack is stolen or damaged you will have coverage.

As long as you’re choosing a country that’s labeled as ‘safe to travel to,’ you’ll be just fine.

Did we help you form a more realistic vision of studying abroad? It’s an adventure and you’ll definitely face unexpected things. However, it will be a beautiful adventure when you’re prepared for it.


Author’s bio: Karen Dikson is a blogger and college instructor from New Jersey. Her works have been published on several education resources, including HuffingtonPost. Karen also participated in a teacher exchange program with Australia. Connect with Karen via Twitter.

Adulting Other

Traveling Abroad This Summer?

June 16, 2017

Studying abroad can be a fun and enjoyable experience for students. It’s the chance to broaden your horizon and experience how living in another country compares to the United States. In all of the fun that goes into traveling, do not forget to consider the safety measures.

When traveling internationally for school or just for fun, accidents happen, and having insurance can save you and the people you travel with. Travelers insurance covers emergency and medical costs, including your property if it gets stolen. This is very helpful when traveling with expensive items.

Before heading on your adventure, here are some serious things to consider:

1. Inform close friends and relatives of your travel plans and give them all the details. Provide your living arrangements, numbers you may be reached at (a cell phone is not enough), departure/ arrival dates and times, etc. Preparing this in a nice neat packet is an excellent habit to create.

2. Discuss your travel plans with a physician. Within your doctor’s visit, be sure you are medically prepared and have at least the following:

-an up to date physical

-immunizations required for your destination and any layovers you may have

-sufficient prescriptions for the entirety of your trip

3. Research the area you are visiting. There is a part of town you should avoid, restaurants you must try, and sites you have to see. Knowing what to expect when you arrive will ease your traveling stress.

4. You should dress for the weather and dress for your destination. Dress conservatively, do not wear expensive jewelry or those designer jeans. You will look like less of a tourist, making your trip safer and more enjoyable.

5. Look into travelers’ insurance. As many insurance policies do not apply to overseas trips. Travelers insurance protects you should a medical emergency occur and your belongings should they be stolen or lost.

6. Make sure your passport and other travel documents are in order. The U.S. Homeland Security recently revised passport regulations requiring additional checks and new procedures. Be sure to check your passport will be accepted when you leave and re-enter the country.

7. Do not leave before you are confident you can afford the trip. Make sure you have a cushion in your bank account, accidents and hidden expenses are more common than you may think. Check that you will be able to access your bank account at your destination as well.

8. Be sure to only drink bottled water! Traveling can be exciting but staying hydrated is essential.

If you are a student traveling abroad enjoy yourself but please, prepare accordingly. The world is yours to conquer, don’t let it conquer you!

Career Other

Going, Going, Gone…Abroad!

July 18, 2016

If you’re in college, you’ve probably heard a lot about study abroad. Going abroad means being able to study in a foreign country (and sometimes in a different language) while also having the opportunity to travel, meet new people from around the world and explore a new culture. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend some time outside of your everyday college campus–there are study abroad programs across the globe. Even if your college or university does not offer a study abroad program in a place you’d like to see, there’s a high probability that another school does.

Through study abroad, you have the chance to live in places you may never have considered before–I know people who have studied in England, South Africa, Morocco, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Kenya, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and other amazing countries! The options truly are endless. I decided to go to Madrid, Spain for my study abroad period last spring. I perfected my Spanish through three language and literature classes, a home stay with a Spanish family and an internship at a sports marketing agency in the city. I also learned about the history and culture that makes Spain such a wonderful country. It was an eye-opening, life-changing experience!

Going abroad is becoming more and more common among college students. Every year, over 350,000 American students pack up their suitcases and study abroad. In the last decade, study abroad participation has seen a 130% increase in American college students. While close to 40% of students chose to go during their junior year, most schools offer programs open to sophomores and up. Surprisingly, only 6.2% of study abroad students go for a foreign language. No matter what your major is, there’s a chance to get out and see the world!

If you’re considering study abroad, make sure to look up programs at your school, as well as other universities. Take time to research a program you’re truly interested in–one you know that will challenge and change you. If you’re already going abroad, make sure to think ahead with regard to visas, plane tickets and travel insurance. Don’t leave any important paperwork until the last minute!

How to Prepare for Studying Abroad

If you are studying abroad this upcoming semester, you’ve (hopefully!) done your research and gotten all your paper work ready, but there are still plenty of things to do. Before traveling abroad, here’s a fun checklist for what you should do and bring before you board that plane!

  • Pack light. Most likely you’ll be traveling alone or with others who are also studying abroad, therefore, you’re the only one who will be carrying your stuff. In many cultures outside of the US, there is not as much of an emphasis on “new” and “excess” – it’s okay to wear the same outfit more than once. Pack only what you’ll need while you’re away and things that can be used for multiple purposes – your favorite outfits, comfortable shoes, exercise clothes that can double as pajamas, and one dressed up outfit. Your wardrobe will vary greatly depending on where you are going, but remember to pack smart. When you’re away, you’ll find yourself gravitating to only a fraction of what you bring with you – eliminate the wasted space. For me, being in a foreign culture meant I gravitated toward my favorite outfits time and time again since those are what I felt most comfortable in while adjusting to new surroundings.
  • Bring mementos from home. I know, I said pack light, but you should bring with you some photographs of family and friends as well as a few souvenirs for the friends you meet abroad. You WILL go through at least some culture shock and having reminders of home and the people you left at home will help you feel less lonely during the initial shock phase.
  • Expect a period of culture shock. When studying abroad and living abroad for a few months, culture shock is unavoidable. Many studies and articles portray culture shock as a bell curve – at first it is fun and exciting, then you assimilate more and realize the differences and barriers in culture and become lonely, and finally you adjust, understanding and appreciating the differences in culture and recapturing the excitement of being abroad. While you will experience loneliness, make sure to put yourself out there, make new friends and beat that loneliness! You will come through it.
  • Get out there! For many, you will only study abroad or even live abroad once, so take advantage! If you can travel, travel. If you can make new friends from your host country, make those friends! Try new cuisines and activities, spend time getting to know your host family, and visit every tourist trap and museum. Get to know your city, get to know the locals and take it all in! Experiencing the new culture around you is just as much a learning experience as the classes you’ll take abroad – so do your homework!
  • Be safe. Do your research before you go to make sure you know of any dangerous areas in your city, crime problems, or health advisories in the area in which you will be studying. The Students Abroad site by the Department of Consular Affairs is a great resource: Learn how to best manage an emergency situation abroad, more about local laws and they have an awesome handy-dandy packing guide. It never hurts to be prepared!

But perhaps most importantly, have fun and stay safe this semester!

Health Other

Mental Health Awareness for International Students

May 26, 2015
Mental Health Awareness for International Students

Almost half of young adults have had a mental health disorder in their lives, according to this video. If you are struggling, you are not alone. College can be a particularly susceptible time, and studying abroad, away from home in a new culture can be even more stressful.

Our friends at International Student Health Insurance have created this helpful video to outline the signs of mental health problems and ways to seek treatment, as well as dispel some myths around mental health issues. There are many resources on college campuses where students can turn if you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed. Know that seeking mental health care demonstrates that you are motivated, self-aware, and empowered. While at school, your health is of paramount importance. Watch the video to learn more!

This short video introduces the concepts of mental health for international students in the US. Covering mental health awareness and warning signs, dispelling myths, and showing ways to seek treatment, the video seeks to demystify a complex topic.
Please visit for more information.
Other Safety

Fire Safety Tips for Students Studying Abroad

November 6, 2013
Fire Safety Tips for Study Abroad

Studying abroad is a very exciting time for most students, and more and more college students are taking advantage of this opportunity. In 2012, approximately 280,000 US students studied abroad according to the Institute of International Education. While studying internationally is a great experience for many students, it presents its own share of risks to college students. Depending on where in the world you may roam, fire safety and standards can differ dramatically from country to country. Regardless of where you travel, follow these tips for fire safety while studying abroad:

1. Recognize that fire safety standards are not the same in other countries outside the US.

While dorms and residence halls in the US are required to adhere to strict fire codes, the same cannot be said of other countries around the world. Depending on where you travel, there may not be a smoke detector in all of your building, let alone where you sleep. Do your research so you’ll be best prepared.

Continue Reading


5 Reasons You Should Study Abroad

October 3, 2012

Studying Abroad

One big dilemma in college is whether or not you should study abroad. Sure, there are a lot of pros and cons to weigh, but hopefully this list of reasons you should go abroad will help you make your decision!

1. Valuable life experience – Think about it: how great would it be to be able to say to your kids or grandkids one day, “oh sure, Thailand. I studied there for three months.” That in itself is an awesome thing. But on top of that, you’ll be able to experience new cultures, try new things, and become a more well-rounded individual. You will see things outside of where you’ve always been, and that is priceless.

2. It looks great on a resume – This could be the factor that puts you a step above the rest of the candidates applying for that job, internship, or grad school. It tells them that you’re cultured, refined, well-rounded, and open to new things, which are all great attributes for an applicant to have, no matter what the situation.

3. It’s better than a vacation – You might think, oh, I don’t need to go abroad during college, I can just wait and go on a vacation there someday. But honestly, would it be the same experience? In order to go on a three month vacation, you’d need a wealth of money, resources, and time off from work, which is something few people realistically accomplish. When you study abroad, you are not just a tourist, scratching the surface of a country and a culture for a week or so. You become part of it, learning its mysteries and eccentricities. It becomes a second home to you, and you blend in to it.

4. Simply because you can – This is another big thing that goes along with #3. When you are in college, chances are you are not tied down to a steady career, a family, or many other adult responsibilities. You’re caught in a halfway world between childhood and independence. Which means that you can just pick up and live somewhere else for a semester. And you’re not even getting behind, because you’re either taking classes or working at an internship for college credits and life experience.

5. Make new friends – Chances are, while you’re abroad, you’ll make tons of new friends and connections that you would never have had the chance to meet otherwise. And don’t be afraid of going in blind somewhere completely new – more often than not, there will be many people from your university or others nearby that are also going to the same place. You can also make valuable business connections that may help you in your future career, as well as personal ones.

You really can’t go wrong with study abroad! Many schools have programs, advisers, and scholarships dedicated solely to these expeditions, so go check out your school’s today!