I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland this past summer and I had the best month and a half of my life.  I cannot recommend studying abroad enough.  You will make amazing friends and have incredible experiences.  The steps one must take in order to study abroad can seem confusing and daunting.  I’ve made a checklist to help simplify the process!

1.)    Choose where you want to go:  This is obviously a necessary first step.  If you don’t have any idea of where you want to go, check out your school’s study abroad office where there should be many pamphlets describing all of their abroad opportunities.  If you are studying a language I highly recommend choosing an abroad option in a place where people speak that language on a daily basis.  Another option would be to study abroad in a country where you have family ties!  I chose to go to Ireland because 75% of my ancestors were Irish so I have always had a desire to visit the country.  You may also want to consider what classes you want to take depending on your major.  For example my school offers great abroad opportunities for Journalism majors in London.  Talk to the abroad office for if you want further help figuring out which program is right for you!

2.)    Choose the duration of your trip: At my school you have the option of going abroad for a summer semester, a fall or spring semester, or a full year.  Since I studied abroad right after my Freshman year I felt like the summer abroad was the perfect option for me.  It wasn’t too long (only about 6 weeks) and I liked that I wouldn’t miss any part of my Sophomore year.  Junior year is a great year to spend a school year semester or full year abroad.  If you feel intimidated by the idea of spending an entire year abroad I would highly recommend doing a summer abroad program.

3.)    Apply Early: The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to choose where you want to go and apply as soon as possible!  A lot of schools have rolling acceptance so the sooner you apply the better because trips may fill up quickly.  At my school the application process is very simple.  You write an essay declaring why you want to study abroad and then you fill out a lot of paperwork about yourself.  You also have to interview at the Study Abroad office where they confirm you are prepared to go abroad and represent your school.  I applied last November and was accepted by December whereas some friends waited until February to apply.  It was nice to know I was accepted early on so I had more time to get excited about my trip.

4.)    Research:  Once you are accepted into your study abroad program start researching the country where you will be living!  You are about to have an incredible time in a foreign country and you will only get more out of the experience if you know about where you will be living.  Learn about the countries history and customs!

5.)    Prepare a budget:  This step is essential.  Call your study abroad program and ask about their recommended budget range for your program.  For my five weeks in Ireland the budget range was about $600-$2000 depending on the person.  Decide what type of things you will spend money and map how much you think it will cost (food, clothing, extra traveling, cabs, etc.).  Don’t forget to consider the currency exchange rate.  Decide if you plan on taking cash out of an ATM when you arrive in the country or using your credit card.  I would recommend using cash because in my experience many shops and restaurants in foreign countries don’t accept credit cards, and credit card companies charge a lot of fees for making foreign purchases.  Be prepared to have extra money ready in case of an emergency.

6.)    Start packing early: You will receive a packing list from your study abroad program.  Make sure you have everything ready a couple days before you leave so you have time to get any missing essentials.  I recommend bring a present for your host family!

7.)    Board the plane with an open mind: As you walk onto the plane you’ll probably feel excited but also nervous.  I know I did as well as most people on my program.  It’s totally normal to feel homesick but try and keep a positive attitude.  You’re time in the country will most likely fly by!  If you to have an open mind you will be able to enjoy everything you encounter during the trip.  You will meet incredible people and explore awesome places.  All I can say is that I’d give anything to go back and relive my entire study abroad experience so embrace everything coming your way! My next post will go more in detail about my time abroad!

Looking for scholarships to help you pay for your study abroad trip? NSCS offers the Scholar Abroad Spring Scholarship which will award one NSCS member $5,000 to study abroad!

Mona Corboy is a sophomore at the University of Oregon.  Although she is currently undeclared, she is thinking about majoring in Journalism and double minoring in French and Creative Writing.  Mona grew up in Vermont and Chicago but currently lives in Portland, Oregon when she is not at college.  In her free time she enjoys writing nonfiction, speaking French, going on adventures and most recently she has developed a love for talking about her recent experience studying abroad in Ireland.  Mona will be writing posts about her time abroad and other subjects such as fashion and health.