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Studying Abroad Checklist: 5 Things to Keep in Mind

Living and learning abroad is an unmatched opportunity to explore a new culture, develop language skills and broaden your personal and professional growth.

Selecting your destination, navigating course credit registration and identifying housing is just the beginning of this life-changing journey. Before setting off, make sure you check these five things off your list:

#1. Do your homework. Before you go, make sure your student visa, passport, financial aid, banking, insurance and housing paperwork are in order. Next, study a map of your host city and surrounding public transportation – particularly around key spots like the airport, housing and university.

#2. Spend smart. Don’t let financial challenges ruin the experience. Before departing for your destination, research its exchange rate and any foreign transaction or ATM fees. Make your bank aware that you will be abroad and check out ways to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft.

#3. Plan for emergencies. Depending on where you will be studying, there are different situations to take into account. Be aware of common natural disasters or travel alerts in your host country. If you are a U.S. student studying abroad, consider enrolling with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

#4. Get local recommendations. Of course, you will gain global perspective in the classroom – but much of your international learning will happen off campus. In addition to visiting the top tourist destinations of your host country, make sure to ask locals or other students who have studied abroad for their local recommendations. These are the landmarks, businesses and activities that contribute to your host country’s culture and will enhance your understanding of your new surroundings.

#5. Research your host country’s cultural codes. “Whether in a foreign culture to work or study, people often find themselves in situations where the rules for appropriate behavior are different from those with which they are familiar in their native cultures,” says Brandeis International Business School (IBS) professor Andy Molinsky. He has identified 10 specific cultural codes to give a quick sense of behavioral best practices around the world from China to Great Britain. Get acquainted with the distinct cultural differences of your host country so that you’re prepared for personal and professional encounters.

Interested in launching an international career after graduation? Brandeis International Business School's (IBS) Accelerated MA program offers undergrads studying economics the ability to gain a master’s degree in just one year after graduation. Priority application deadline is March 15th. Who knows? The next step in your global career could be just around the corner. 

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