Do These 10 Things Before You Leave to Study Abroad

Jun 27, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Sydney Alderman

Sydney Alderman

Sydney Alderman is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing and Global Management major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

In this week's post, Sydney shares what she's learned from her previous study abroad journey and suggests 10 things to prepare for before you leave for your own study abroad experience.


Hey guys! I thought I’d give a little background on my study abroad experience and also share some important things to do to prepare. A few years ago, I studied abroad in Augsburg, Germany. It was my first time overseas, and it was one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve been itching to travel again since the day I stepped back in the US. so when the opportunity to go to Sydney came along, I had to take it. Unfortunately, that also meant prepping to go abroad again— which can take a lot of time and be somewhat stressful. To ease some of the pain for other students like me, I’ve come up with 10 things to do before you leave. Read below to learn from my mistakes...because now that I'm on round 2 of this abroad thing, I'm practically a pro right? 😉

Friends from GermanyI studied abroad in Germany my first time. Sydney will be my second study abroad experience!

1. Get Your Passport (and Visa) Sorted Out

These are important documents and without them, none of these other tips matter! Both can take up to 8 weeks or more to receive so make sure you check this out well in advance.

2. Look for Scholarships

If not from your school, look for ones from your specific program or another organization. If you’re comfortable asking friends and family to help out, there’s always crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe as well.


You’re in a new place and you want to experience everything it has to offer—but that can be expensive. Make a budget! Sometimes you won’t be able to stick to it 100% but having the plan will definitely help you from breaking the bank.

4. Go to the Bank.

Australian CurrencySome Australian currency.

Speaking of the bank...go there before you leave! First, let them know that you’ll be out of the country so they don’t think it’s suspicious when there is overseas activity. Then check what kind of fees there are for using your card or an ATM abroad. And exchange some currency so you don’t have to rely on a card only.

5. Brush Up on Basic Phrases.

Even if you’re going to a country where they speak the same language as you, there’s bound to be some regional differences. In Australia, they shorten a lot of words and add an “o” to the end! Afternoon = Arvo.

6. Make a Packing List

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Summer2018_From Sydney Alderman - Passport

Don’t wait until the last minute, and don’t try to wing it without a list. And keep updating your list if you think of other things! My mom told me to pack my rain jacket the morning before I left home, but I thought I would remember to grab it on my way out…guess who had to buy a coat in Australia?

7. Do Some Research.

More of this can be done once you’re abroad (it’s great to ask for the opinions of locals) but the internet can be a very helpful tool before you leave as well. Do you plan on traveling to multiple cities/countries? Is there a specific excursion you already know you NEED to do? What’s the weather like? Get some background knowledge beforehand.

8. Figure Out Your Means of Communication.

Almost everyone nowadays uses a cellphone and uses it often. There are a few different ways to keep doing that abroad:

  • Keep your phone on airplane mode and use your normal plan when there’s WiFi. This is “free”! But in a lot of countries, wireless internet is limited to only a few spots like Starbucks and McDonald’s.
  • Buy a prepaid SIM card with a new number for the country that you’re traveling to. Some plans just give you data, while some allow you to call internationally so talk to the phone companies and get what’s best for you!
  • Check with your provider from home. In my experience, this has been a rather expensive option—but if you don’t want to worry about a new number or changing anything else, this might be right for you.

9. Buy a Journal.

Or you can use an app. No matter if you write or type, try to write down your thoughts and feelings. Start before your trip with a few notes about any expectations or worries you have. These will be great to reference both on your trip and after you get back home. (And maybe you can even become a blogger to share your journey and help others. ☺️)

10. Don't Be Scared!

Plane ViewEnjoy the plane ride!

Last but definitely not least! Leaving home for a new country can be a little nerve-wracking but it will be amazing, and you can learn so much. Use these tips to prepare beforehand and get excited for one of the best experiences of your life.

Thanks Sydney!

Sydney's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations, Top 10