Before you go abroad, learn as much as the country and city where you are going. Spend time talking with people from your host country and/or Tennessee Tech students who have studied there. They are your best sources of information. Ask about classes, weather, food, customs, traditions, similarities, and differences. Try to learn greetings and other phrases in the native language. Check the weather patterns, so you will know what to pack. Expect the weather to be significantly different from Cookeville.
Read about world news online, particularly news about your host country. Politics are often a topic of conversation in most countries, and you will want to be prepared to participate. Likewise, it is important that you are equally as informed about your home country. Be sure to know the basics of US government, particularly as it relates to your host country.
Communication within your program location and with those back home is an important consideration. As part of the TN Tech plan to keep you safe while you're abroad it's vital - but just as important is how mindful you are of your communication habits.
- DO NOT MAKE JOKES AT THE SECURITY STATIONS OR IMMIGRATION STATIONS
- DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS AT CHECK POINT STATIONS IN THE AIRPORT
- DO NOT DISPLAY ARROGANCE OR ARGUE WITH THE AUTHORITIES
- DO NOT EXPECT TO HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS IN THE HOST COUNTRY
Make a plan for your arrival at your destination- Will someone be picking you up at your final stop? Do you need to arrange a ride? Write down important addresses and contact information in case you don't have a working phone. (the Study Abroad Office will give you an Emergency Wallet Card)
Make a plan for accessing money- It is recommended to take at least 2 cards with you, one main debit card and one backup card in case your main card gets lost or compromised.
Let your loved ones know you are safe- Make a plan to contact those important to you back home to let them know you've arrived safely.
Jet Lag Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that may cause insomnia, fatigue and nausea. Of course, the jet lag experience (including recovery rate) varies from person to person. Here are some suggestions for dealing with jet lag:
- Be patient with yourself. After traveling for a long period of time, it is not uncommon to feel exhausted, easily confused, or frustrated.
- Prior to leaving, write down where you will spend the first night and how to get there. Knowing that you have a place to rest and how to get there will lessen the stress. There are many different recommendations for eating before and during your flight. Do a little research and determine what is best for you.
- Drink as much water as possible to stay hydrated
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers before and during the flight. They will only increase fatigue without making you sleep better.
- Get up and move around during the flight and do stretching exercises.
- Upon arrival, begin to operate on local time. If you arrive in the morning, go to your accommodation to drop off your luggage and then do a little exploring.
Using a smartphone abroad is becoming increasingly easier, but there are some important things to consider
- Contact your service provider to see if they have an international plan you can opt into for the duration of your program.
- If you do not have an international data plan, Turn off Data Roaming on your smart
phone before traveling or put your phone in Airplane Mode. Otherwise, your data may
run in the background while you are abroad and you may come home with a huge cell
Research some international plans or options. Here's a Travelers guide to using a smartphone abroad.
Remember that you are visiting a different part of the world for a reason. Be mindful of how much time you spend on technology, ignoring the very purpose of your travel. It can be difficult to avoid feeling the pressure to capture every moment and share every discovery, but you'll improve your experience by being present.
Put down your phone!
Here's a few tips on being mindful about your technology use
- Blog! Writing a journal in a blog can help you reflect on your experiences and share things with many people at once.
- Take time away from your phone. Give yourself a break from distraction to enjoy everything that is new. Who cares how many "likes" you get on Instagram when you are seeing, smelling, tasting and experiencing new things every day?
- While there will likely be more opportunities to discover the world in your future, remember that they can be rare, so be sure to treat that opportunity with the respect it deserves.
- Practice ethical photography! Consider your intentions with regard to gaining consent from those you photograph and especially when you might be posting to social media. Note that in many countries, photographing government or military buildings and personnel is illegal. Err on the side of caution and ask before taking photos.
Even though it seems easy, there are a lot of factors you need to take into consideration when packing for study abroad. There’s more to it than meets the eye, so we’re breaking down what exactly to pack for study abroad, plus all of the miscellaneous things to take into account when you’re making your own study abroad packing list.
Please read this article on What to Pack for Study Abroad-A Study Abroad Packing List
Just as important as what you pack for your study abroad trip is how you pack it into your carry-on and checked luggage. Please watch this video on 12 Travel Packing Tips.
Things not to pack:
- Personal Hygiene Products- Take 3 oz. bottles in your carry-on in case of travel delays, however, you can buy larger bottles of equivalent things after you arrive.
- Hair Dryer/Straight iron/Curling iron- For the people going where the voltage is different, do not even think about taking these items. Even with the voltage converter, these things will fry. just buy them once you get there.
- Irreplaceable Valuables- Do not take the necklace that has been in your family for generations. If you won’t be able to move on with life if it gets lost or stolen, don’t take it with you.
How do you know if you are taking too much luggage?
Try to carry ALL of your packed luggage at the same time up a flight of stairs. If you can't do it, then you are taking too much. No one is going to help you carry your luggage around and sometimes you have to carry it on and off subways and trains. You will definitely have to carry it up flights of stairs, so PACK LIGHT!
NOTE: There are many restrictions on what is allowed in your carry-on luggage, however, the things you put in your carry-on are sometimes essential in case your checked luggage gets delayed and you have to live without it for a few days. Your carry-on bag should include, 1-2 changes of clothes, small toiletries, all medications, electronics, ticket, passport, money, credit/debit cards. Please check your airline for more information on luggage weight and contents.
No matter where you're heading, there will be some important documents that you'll want to safeguard. It's also possible that you'll need to acquire a visa before departure.
Scan a copy of the Bio Page of your passport, share it with someone you trust, and keep a color copy somewhere easily accessible. If your passport gets lost or stolen, this will help you get a replacement a lot faster.
Do the same for any important prescriptions, as well as immunization records that are important to your entry into a country.
You will also want to make note of the contact information on your bank cards so that you can contact the appropriate place if they are lost or stolen.
Visas are official documents issued by governments granting permission for visitors to enter a country. You may receive visa application information from the TN Tech Study Abroad Staff; however, it is always your responsibility to acquire the visa and to be aware of policies and deadlines that may affect the visa process.
This will depend on your nationality, study abroad destination, and the length of your program. You can find up-to-date visa information by looking up online the consulate or embassy of your host country. U.S. citizens can also find current visa information at the U.S. Department of State's U.S. Students Abroad page.
Other Visa Considerations:
- If you plan to travel before or after your program abroad, be sure to determine if this will affect your need to acquire a visa. Many countries have limitations on the number of days in which you can visit before applying for a formal visa, which often must be done before entry.
- Many TN Tech study abroad students travel to the Schengen Area in Western Europe. Some special considerations may apply to this area. Learn more about the Schengen Borders Agreement.
- If you do determine that you need a visa for your destination, be sure to apply for the appropriate kind of visa.
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