As the time to leave creeps on me, the reality of it hits. I was always telling friends and family “I’m studying abroad in Japan ‘next’ year.” Once summer hit, my dad had to start correcting me, saying “It’s ‘this’ year that you’re going to Japan.” It wasn’t until the end of the summer that I fully realized I was going abroad this year. Now it’s 2 days before I leave and I’m starting to get extremely nervous. This nervousness makes me feel rushed, like I’m running out of time. Will I have enough time to get everything ready before I leave? But then I sit back and start listing off what I needed to get done, and I’ve found that, by preparing early, the only thing I have left to do it pack and I already have a list together and an idea of what to pack. These are some things to consider early, to avoid that last second feeling of chaos.
To Do EARLY List
- Get your documents together. This includes your passport and VISA. These are not items which you can go, fill out forms, and then go home with the same day. It takes weeks for your passport, and another week for your VISA.
- Look into plane tickets. They get more expensive the longer you wait. Plus you can only get a return flight on a round trip ticket 330 days later than the current date. If you can’t wait to buy your ticket, compare two one-way trips with buying a round-trip ticket and adding in the fee for changing your return date.
- Get your vaccines! Japan is rather advanced in the health field and you don’t actually need any extra vaccines. But a few are recommended, such as Japanese Encephalitis, a version of the flu. This consists of 2 shots given a month apart. So talk to your doctor a few months before your leave.
- Eat all of your favorite foods that might not be available where you are going. This may seem rather silly, but as a person who looks forward to every meal, eating your favorite foods can be a comfort in the stressful time before leaving. Start this early too, because if you have many favorite meals like me, they can’t all be crammed into one day.
- Meet friends and family. Everyone has different plans over the summer, many people have jobs and vacations and other commitments. My parents threw a little going away party with all of my relatives so I could see everyone before I leave. Most of my friends worked this summer, and a few live in different cities, some left early to study abroad and all of them left for college 2-3 weeks ago. I wanted to see them all and if I hadn’t done so earlier this summer I wouldn’t have had the time or ability to see them all.
- Figure out how you are going to communicate while you are abroad. Does your phone have global capability? What are the fees for this? Do you have access to internet and skype? Look into texting Apps for your phone if you have a smart phone.
- Start a packing LIST. I just started packing yesterday…which is rather late, but I already had a list made up of what I needed to bring. I started the list a month ago and there have been quite a few additions over the weeks from me and my parents. But now that I have to pack, I already have a list together so I know what to pack, and don’t feel like I’m going to forget something because it’s all written down.
- Make sure you have bags to put your luggage in, and check how many bags you can bring. This will help when thinking about how many pairs of pants, etc that you can bring. If you don’t have luggage bags try asking relatives or friends if you can borrow some.
- Look into the fashions in the country you’re going. This is another “silly” thing, but it is reassuring to know that most of your wardrobe here WILL fit in with wherever you’re going. Plus, if there IS something different, then you will be aware of it and not surprised when you arrive and everyone can point you out as a foreigner.
- Research! The culture, the sites to see, the ways of transportation. Talk to relatives or friends, or acquaintances about their experiences. You may be surprised who has gone where. Plus, getting first had experiences can be fun as well as insightful.
- Go see the dentist… I wasn’t due for an appointment until winter break, but I wanted to go beforehand, because I won’t be home until August, almost a year away. And it’s a good thing I went a week before I left, because I had to go a second time to get a cavity taken care of. If I hadn’t gone, who knows how much worse it could’ve gotten in a year.
- Finish any video games that you are part way through if you are like me and need to complete them. I’m unable to bring any game consoles plus my brother wants to play this game after me and he might delete my files. It’s taken 20+ more hours than I expected, but because I started playing again early, I have yet to pull any all-nighters.
- Did I mention spend time with family? I think I did, but I’m going to mention it again. My family is beyond important to me, and I know I will miss them dearly while I’m away. It’s been hard balancing the previously act mentioned in #12 and spending time with family, but make it work. I know I’m happy that I did.
- Lastly, if you are studying abroad in a country where you don’t know the language, start looking up helpful phrases and notes. If you have studying the language, but never covered units such as “Opening a bank account” look up helpful phrases and notes. If you are going a few months after you stopped studying, relook up your notes, past tests, listen to music, watch shows and watch movies in the language. Not only will this help with language retention, but with culture and traditions and holidays and tourist sites, fashion, etc.
I’m excited and nervous and my thoughts are all over place, but because I started preparing early, I was able to get done what needed to be done. Packing is another story, but I’m going to start that right after I submit this…
Thanks for reading ^^