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10 Things to Do While You Wait to Study Abroad

February 29, 2016

ISEP student Melissa O. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is a Spanish education major from University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, and is currently studying abroad at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Chile.

You have received your acceptance letter and departure date, and have begun your countdown until the day you leave for the adventure of a lifetime. But now what? Depending on your program type, you may be waiting up to two months in between semesters due to a different academic schedule where you are studying abroad. Regardless of your departure date, there is bound to be time before you leave when you are left wondering what you should be doing with this precious time. Here are 10 things to do to occupy your time before you leave for studying abroad.

1. Research, Research, Research

Research took up a lot of time before I left for Chile. I would research different gear I was planning on purchasing (my backpack and camera especially), and what the best of the best was on the market. I would also research different hot spots in Chile, and other general facts about my future host country, such as cultural norms and climate.

2. Get Organized

Create a bin or an area of your room to be dedicated to study abroad materials. I used a laundry basket in the corner of my room and as I purchased or thought of things I needed to pack, I added it to my basket. This way, when the time comes to officially pack your suitcase, you already have a large sum of what you were planning on bringing in one central location.

Clothes stacked up for packing
Clothes stacked up for packing

Here is the basket I use in my room to separate what I am definitely bringing with me to Chile, featuring my Chacos, some wool socks, an outlet adapter, some hats and more!

3. Make Lists

Throughout the days leading up to your departure, you will have random thoughts related to studying abroad. “I need to remember to pack my favorite hat!” or “I cannot forget to print off my plane ticket confirmation.” These little thoughts are going to be important to remember. I created a note document on my iPhone to jot down those thoughts while I was on-the-go, and I also placed a pad of Post-Its next to my bed. This seemingly unimportant process has saved me from a lot of stress now that I am a mere ten days away from departure!

4. Apply for Scholarships

There are a lot of opportunities to earn some free money to put toward your study abroad endeavors. ISEP offers several different scholarship opportunities. Additionally, your home university most likely offers different scholarships for study abroad students. Ask your home university’s study abroad office for more specific details! You can find out more about ISEP’s scholarship opportunities here.

5. Create a Blog

Create your own blog to use as a way to document your study abroad experience. You may even begin posting on it beforehand, documenting your feelings prior to studying abroad.

Home screen of Melissa's blog page
Home screen of Melissa’s blog page

With all of the free time I had, I was able to create a blog I am proud of!

6. Make a Study Abroad Bucket List

Make of list of things you would like to accomplish during your time studying abroad. Whether that be different trips you hope to take or different skills you would like to learn, creating a list will help remind you throughout your time abroad why you did this in the first place, and creating it will make you even more excited to depart!

7. Learn the Language

If you are traveling somewhere you will be speaking a different language other than your native language, use this time to either learn or practice the language that will be used in your host city.

8. Read Up

Buy some books related to the country in which you will be studying in to learn more about the area, the language, the people and the history of the region. I got a Lonely Planet guide for Chile & Easter Island, and it is filled with helpful hints, popular restaurants, accommodation and how to get around the country easily.

Two travel books on Chile
Two travel books on Chile

I love my Lonely Planet guide, as well as reading books in the language I am studying. Both help prepare you for your new life abroad.

9. Watch

One of my favorite things to do while waiting to depart to Chile was watch videos on YouTube about Chile, travel and backpacking. I would also use YouTube as a way to analyze certain gear I wanted to purchase and to hear what people thought about the products I was thinking about buying (this goes along with Idea #1: Research).

Two of my favorite YouTube channels related to travel include Psycho Traveller and Backpacking Bananas, but there are so many more that you may come across while browsing!

10. Enjoy the Little Things

Notice and enjoy the normalities in your life at home. Waking up in your own bed or watching TV with your family in the living room, enjoy those experiences that seem so routine before you leave them for an extended period of time.

Dog curled up asleep on couch
Dog curled up asleep on couch

Snuggling with my puppies with the snow outside is one of the things I will miss the most!

*Are you ready for your own adventure? See all of your study abroad options on the ISEP website.

Want to see more from our ISEP bloggers? Learn more about our ISEP Voices Spring 2016 group.*

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