You’ve filled out your application, been accepted to your program, and you realize your dream of studying abroad is becoming a reality. You also come to the realization that you are leaving the country for an extended period of time- whether it is two weeks, a month, six months, or even a year. With that, you start to have a mild freak-out (which is completely normal).
One of the biggest hurdles you have to overcome when studying abroad is packing. Packing is obviously something that will be different for everyone depending on where you are studying and for how long. My recommendation when it comes to packing is to start early! I know, I know, planning ahead is hard and annoying. We, as college students, tend to pride ourselves on how good we are at procrastinating, and we often say that we “work better under pressure”, but seriously, packing last minute is the worst. You don’t necessarily have to lay out all of your clothes days in advance (even though that’s probably the best thing to do), but I would definitely encourage you to at least make a list of things you are planning to take in advance. That way, you aren’t running around like a crazy person the night before or hours before you board the plane. Also, try to keep in mind that you might be bringing back more than you took, so leave some space in your bag!
Another hurdle you will encounter when traveling abroad is customs. If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “customs” is long lines. I hate to break it to you, but that is more than likely what you will encounter. The process of going through customs is different depending on where you go, which can affect how long it takes to get through. When I went through customs in London, I simply had to wait in line to speak with a customs officer. When I got to the counter, I had to answer a few questions about why I was traveling and then I picked up my bag from bag claim and was on my way. When I came back to the United States and went through customs in Atlanta, I had to wait in line for a kiosk that took my photo and asked questions about what I was bringing back into the country. After that, I had to wait in another line to speak with a customs officer, during which time we were not allowed to use our cell phones. Once I answered a few of the officers’ questions, I had to pick up my bag from bag claim only to re-check it for my next flight to Kansas City and go through security again. Due to the extended process coming home, it made the day seem a lot longer (and only made me want my own bed that much more).
Whether you have traveled internationally before or not, it is always an experience. It may not always be a smooth ride, but whatever obstacles you may encounter, it will all be worth it in the end. Stay calm and stay positive!
Bailey Babcock is a sophomore studying Integrated Strategic Communication/Business. She participated in the UK Consortia program CCSA London Winter in December 2015.