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Tips for Preparing to Study Abroad

Feb 18, 2021 10:45:00 AM / by Michaela Clarke

In her first post for the CAPA World blog, remote Dublin intern Michaela Clarke shares a list of 10 tips on how to stay on top of study abroad logistics such as visas, scholarships and funding, cultural customs, and more - including tying up loose ends before you leave!

Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity and I believe everyone should do it! It actually took me about a year of researching different study abroad programs before I chose CAPA. CAPA is a diverse program that offers a wide range of subjects for internships, so I am excited to be a part of the CAPA experience. I chose to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland for my internship because they have a unique criminal justice system and I wanted to experience how it works with forensic science.

(CAPA note: Our in-country study abroad program in Dublin has recently transitioned to an online program. Michaela will now be interning remotely with a Dublin-based company this semester.)

Preparing to study abroad is a daunting experience and you can easily get overwhelmed with planning and deadlines. Here’s how I kept on top of everything:

1. Use a Planner!

A planner is an easy way to keep up with deadlines and keep your life in an orderly fashion. If you don’t want to spend money on a planner, you can use the calendar on your phone or email.

CAPAStudyabroad_Spring2021_Dublin_michaela clarke_planner

2. Check If You Need a Visa (Most Important Item!).

As a student traveling abroad, checking to see if a visa is required is important. The earlier you find out, the quicker it is for you to get your visa! Depending on the country you are studying/interning in, you may need a visa, and the process can take anywhere from a month to three months to process. Also, if you are a green card resident, check with the host country consulate because you may not need a visa! Your program manager at CAPA will help you out with this process as well.

3. Find Funds for Your Program.

When preparing to study abroad, one of the first things I did was speak to my study abroad office at my school about funding opportunities. You can also speak to the financial aid office at your university. Usually, the study abroad office will have scholarships that are specifically for studying abroad, so be sure to check those out and apply early!

CAPAStudyabroad_Spring2021_Dublin_michaela clarke_financial aid sign

4. Check to See If Your Study Abroad Program Has Internal Scholarship Opportunities.

Most study abroad programs will have internal scholarships to help students offset the cost of their program. CAPA has an abundance of funding opportunities for students. I applied to the CAPA need-based grant and the vlogger/blogger grants to help with the cost!

CAPAStudyabroad_Spring2021_Dublin_michaela clarke_Need based scholarships screenshot

5. Apply for Independent Scholarships.

In addition to funding opportunities at your university and study abroad program, there a ton of other scholarships you can apply to, such as the Fund for Education Abroad Scholarship, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, and Critical Language Scholarship, just to name a few.

6. Save Some Money.

You’ll want to put some extra money aside for your study abroad experience. While you’re overseas, there might be unexpected expenses that you are expected to pay or may want to travel as well. You will also need money for food, souvenirs, and potentially clothes or other items while you are abroad.

7. Make Sure Everything At Your Home University is Good to Go!

Speaking from experience, when you’re in the middle of preparing to study abroad, you may tend to forget the duties that you have on campus. For example, if you sit on any executive board in any club or participate in research, it is good to make sure they are aware of your plans. Before you leave for your study abroad program, be sure to also check with your student advisor, financial aid office, and your study abroad office about any last-minute items that need to be taken care of!

8. Notify Your Banks That You are Traveling.

Preparing to study abroad can be pretty hectic, but you don’t want to be overseas and not be able to use your credit or debit cards. Before you go, call your bank and tell them the start and end dates of your trip to prevent your cards from being declined. If you are using a credit or debit card, make sure you check and see if there are any fees that apply when you use the card.

CAPAStudyabroad_Spring2021_Dublin_michaela clarke_clipart-money-piggy-bank

9. Research Your Host Country’s Culture and Customs.

Take the time to research a little about the country you are studying/interning in so you have an idea of what to expect. Keep up with current affairs and rules while you are at home so you won’t be completely lost when you arrive in your host city.

10. Remember to Have Fun!

When all the preparation is done and you’re all packed and ready to go, remember to have fun! The experiences you will cultivate will have an impact on your adult life and shape your future.

Thanks, Michaela!

Michaela Clarke

Michaela Clarke is an official Remote CAPA blogger for spring 2021, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Forensics Studies major from Florida Gulf Coast University, she is remotely studying abroad and interning in Dublin this semester.

Michaela's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations