Here are a few quick tips to keep you safe on your overseas travel.Safety First.

1.Research is Key

Before traveling to a foreign country, educate yourself on the different laws and customs.  Things that are legal in America may not be at your host institution.  Visit the U.S Department of State to learn about entry and exit requirements, crime rates, criminal penalties, traffic safety, and so on.

2.Be a Copycat

Make copies of your passport, visa, acceptance letters from host institutions, and any other important documents. You never know what can happen and the last thing you want is to be left stranded. Send the copies to your email so they can be printed out if need be.

3.Stock Up

If you take prescriptions, make arrangements ahead of time to have enough for your stay. Make sure you have documentation of your prescription.  Check with the Centers for Disease Control to make sure your prescription is legal in your particular country. Other things you may want to stock up on include eye contacts and special ointments and products.

4.Pick Pocketers

Men usually do not have a huge problem with this because they are known to keep what they have on them to a minimal. For women, a cross bag is the best bet. Keep your purse around your neck and keep it there. Friends have told me that if you set your purse on the ground, some people will not hesitate to snag it.

5.Money Matters

Besides the fact that you don’t want to get your money stolen or lost, know the best way to keep conversion costs down. Check with your bank on their international ATM fees and compare it with others. The best way to keep ATM and conversion fees down are to take out large amounts of cash at a time. You will then obviously want to keep your money in a safe place.Know your numbers.

6.What the Equivalent to 911?

The number is 911 in America, but that is not case in other countries. Keep an emergency card with you.

7.Use the Buddy System

We have heard this term since we were pre-teens for a reason, because it works. It may be common sense but staying in groups really is safer. Who really wants to be alone anyways?

8.Be Insured

International insurance is worth looking into, most institutions even require it. Getting sick or injured overseas could blow your whole budget, so you want something that is there to cover you if the unthinkable happens. Medical insurance is especially necessary for people who are accident prone, like me.

9.Keep in Contact

It may be hard to communicate with family and friends back home, but technology can make up for that. Make sure someone back home knows if you are going on a weekend trip, so if they do not hear from you for a couple days, they will know why. If you have a system of contact set in place, then someone will know when to start worrying if they have not heard from you.

These are just a few tips to keep you safe when traveling overseas. The best advice I can offer to stay safe is to follow your gut.

If you have any tips or advice, feel free to leave a comment and share.


Before I even thought about studying abroad, I would always ask my friends how they fit their life into two suit cases for a semester or a year-long stay. The task seems overwhelming. I over-pack to go home on the weekends. After all, you never know if it is going to rain, snow, or be beach weather, especially if you live in Ohio.

The first task is to get suitcases. If your family has a set that is durable enough to make the trip, then that is great. No need to make useless purchases. If your family needs to use the luggage set while you are gone, or an upgrade is needed, then purchasing a set will need to be done.Luggage

The first decision to make is whether you want hard or soft sided luggage. Hard sided luggage is more durable. It is not a surefire way to protect your belongings, but it is more water and stain resistant and gives more protection than soft luggage to breaking and tearing.

Soft sided luggage is more packing friendly. If you need to squeeze in a last pair of shoes, soft luggage can be much more forgiving than hard sided. Most soft luggage comes with a variety of compartments and pockets to give more room, and it is usually lighter than hard sided.

The choice really depends on the items that will be packed. Is versatility or durability the most important factor? Check out ebags for a wide variety of both.

The most important factor to consider when packing is to know your county’s climate. Is a good pair of waterproof boots or a jacket going to beUnexpected Weather necessary? Checking weather.com will be the best judge of outer garments. A good pair of walking shoes is essential. As for every day clothes, don’t bring anything that you think you just might wear. If it has been in your closet and you haven’t worn it yet, there must be a reason. You have a limited amount of space so fill it up with things that you know will get some good use. A couple of nice outfits for formal occasions or going out are also needed. I am no fashionista, but I think the best way to change up an outfit is with layers. Also, clothes will most likely be acquired will you are overseas, so if you forget a piece, it is not the end of the world.

Tip: Rolling your clothes can be a big space saver and waiting till the end to pack socks and even underwear can will random spaces.

Bringing enough shampoo, conditioner, product and so on will take up a ton of space and add a lot of weight. Just bring a couple of the travel sizes of the necessities to get you through the first couple of days until you can stock up.


Your host institution knows that you are an international student, so it won’t be that odd if you ask them if these types of things are provided. If they are not, I recommend buying them once you have arrived.

Carry-on Bag
If you haven’t heard it already, keep your most expensive or breakable belongings in your carry-on. Use this bag to store your laptop, iPod, camera, jewelry, chargers, prescriptions, contacts, and so on. Also keep a spare outfit with undergarments and some toiletries with you in case your checked bags get lost, because it does happen.

Tip: Most airlines allow you to carry a purse or backpack as well as a carry-on. Use this extra bag to keep your passport, money, visa, tickets and so on.

This is a very broad list to what is needed for an extended stay in a foreign country. When packing use common sense. Or you can be like me and ask your mommy.

Networking. It’s defined as a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest. This has been one thing that professors have stressed the importance of, and I am starting to understand how important it actually is.

Most jobs that individuals get are because of knowing someone that has something to do with that company or organization. Unless you have a resume that sets you far apart from the competition, a job offer is less likely if you do not know someone. Whether it is making a professional presence online by blogging, tweeting or commenting on social networks or actually going out and introducing yourself to people, you want to make your name known.

If you have the opportunity to study abroad that time could be potentially land you a future job or internship offer.  What could be a better time to gain skills and make valuable contacts, even if it is not in your field of work, than when you are abroad?

1. Before you go on your trip, make business cards.Business Cards.

Business cards are a great way for someone to remember your name and how to get in contact with you. Keep them simple, maybe your name, email, and your LinkedIn profile URL. LinkedIn is the number one professional networking tool and can be used to provide information on your skills and experience as well as a place to put an online resume. A professor once told me that business cards are great because once the person that you gave one to puts it in their pocket; they have to look at again when they pull it out, even if it is just to throw it away.

2. Practice your elevator speech.

Image you walk into an elevator and the owner of a business that you want to work for is the only one there. What would you say to him? You want to try to convey who you are professionally while making a lasting impression, all within a short elevator ride.  This speech that you have practiced could come in handy when you are put on spot with only a short period of time to set yourself apart.

3. Remember names.

If you meet someone that you would like to know more about or want them to know more about you, remember their name. Just because you gave someone your business card, doesn’t mean they will follow up with you. Finding the person online and sending them an email shows that you are interested. If you can’t remember the person’s name, then you have most likely lost that contact. After meeting someone write their name down or put it in your phone so that you don’t lose it.

4. Get out and open up.Networking

When you are abroad, there is no better time to travel and meet new people. Go to as many events and places that you can possibly go to. The more people you meet, the more opportunities there are for future advancements. Being friendly and being able to listen to what others say are the best impressions a student can leave someone with.

Networking could land you a future job or internship. Having contacts globally could open many doors. It is all up to you to determine just how many.

Here are just a few tips that will help you get the most out of your study abroad experience.

1. Set a Weekly Budget:
If you have allocated $4,000 for food, entertainment and travel over a five month period, don’t waste it. If you set a budget $150 a week, that will leave with you plenty of money to spare. If you have a slower week with no bigger purchases or traveling expenses, take that money and add it to a week that you know you will be traveling. Keep track of your spending, and make sure you understand the exchange rate for your chosen country before your arrival. That $4,000 might actually be closer to $3,500.

2. Check for student discounts:
Student discounts are available everywhere. A lot of saved money can add up from discounts at shopping centers, movie theaters, museums, tourist attractions and even transportation.

3. Take Pictures:
You never know if you will ever have the opportunity to travel to the same places again, so pictures might be the only way to save your memories. Plus your family will most likely want to live through you and experience the places you saw and things you did. You can use photo sharing websites to help you organize your photos because if you plan on taking as many pictures as I do, your computer won’t have enough memory. Websites like Flickr, Shutterfly, and even Facebook allow you to share pictures with friends and family.

4. Locals Don’t Bite:
I am not telling you to go up to complete strangers all alone, but when you’re out with a group of friends, ask the locals where to go. They are the ones who know where the best places to eat are and what is an appropriate tip.

5. Step out of your Comfort Zone:
Living in a whole new country is a big step out of anyone’s comfort zone, but once you are settled in, you might get into a routine. Don’t just go to clubs with only people who speak your native language every night. Try joining a local club team if you like sports. Volunteer with local organizations or even land an internship. By doing something different, you will gain a better prospective for the culture and it could even open up opportunities for the future.

6. Travel:
When you are overseas, there is no easier or cheaper time to travel. Train and bus systems offer a relatively cheap way to travel. If traveling with a group, you can split the cost of lodging. Airlines like RyanAir offer cheap plane tickets in Europe, which make an extended weekend trip reasonable.

7. Fashion:
Do your research on what clothing styles are acceptable in your country of study before going. The most obvious reason for this is for the weather. Know if you are going to need a winter jacket or shorts and skirts. The last thing you will want to do upon arrival is spend a bunch of money on a new wardrobe. Also you will want to know what clothes are acceptable for church, if you’re planning on attending.

If you have any tips or advice let me know in my comments! I would love to hear students past experience or what they would like to know more about.

I have not studied overseas yet, but I have heard from numerous college graduates that if they could go back and change one thing from their college experience, it would have been to study abroad.

There are many factors that can deter students from studying abroad. Whether it’s because you’re a home body, the financial aspect, or the fact that you don’t want to get behind in school, many students opt out of the opportunity. Lucky enough for me, I have weighed out the pros and cons and could not pass down the chance to travel to Northern Ireland for five months of studying.

I go to college at Kent State University, which is almost exactly 100 miles from my hometown. It is just the right distance from home. Sometimes on weekends I take advantage of having the short drive to my hometown. I am not ashamed in admitting that I get a little home sick and can barely go two weeks without seeing my mommy. I think the longest time that I have been away from home is just a month. So being in a completely new country and culture for five months will be something completely new to me.


One of my dogs. Bailey Rose.

For me I look at it as a challenge. Some of my friends have said that I would never be able to study abroad because I am too close with my family and couldn’t be away from them for such an extended period of time. So part of the reason I am going to study overseas is to prove people wrong. I also haven’t mentioned that my family and I have four precious little nuggets, some other people might call them dogs. I miss them equally as much as my family at times. When in Northern Ireland, I have already faced the fact that I will get home sick from time to time. Lucky enough for me, the technology makes it easy for friends and family to stay connected.

Money. Money is probably the single biggest deterrent from studying abroad. If the money doesn’t exist, neither does the opportunity. But there are many ways to fund a studying abroad experience.Money-tree.

One option is student loans. Many, if not all, loans will transfer from your home institution, to the overseas one. More can be taken out for the extra expenses that can be involved. The expenses may not be as great as you expect though. For me, I am lucky enough to be a part of an exchange program, which allows me to pay the exact same tuition for my overseas institution, The University of Ulster, as Kent State. Look into the programs that your university offers and compare which ones are the best fits financial for you.

If you have scholarships to help cover certain college expenses, talk to a financial advisor at your school and see if they can transfer to the overseas university.

If you are planning to study abroad and scholarships and student loans are not an option for you, hard work always is. Being a college student is a full-time job in itself, but sometimes getting a job is the only option. Summer jobs and part-time jobs are a great way to bring in paychecks. My advice is to start saving in advance in a separate bank account. Every paycheck, allocate a certain amount of money to go to that savings account, even if it is just $50.

As for getting behind in your class sequence, there are options for this too. One option is to work harder a couple of semesters by adding a few more classes. By taking the maximum amount of credit hours your freshmen and sophomore years when your classes are not as difficult, this can get you ahead early on. When the time comes to study abroad, you won’t have fallen behind. Another option is taking summer classes. Summer classes often offer a fast paced version of the semester course and you can knock out more credits in a shorter amount of time.

If you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with classes, look for study abroad programs that are specific to your major. Some of the classes that you take there could potentially transfer directly to courses required for your major. Talk to your academic advisors and they can help you choose university’s that offer the same degree’s as yours.

When thinking about studying abroad, don’t let the cons scare you away, the pros always outweigh them.

For more advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad check out this article from BrainTrack.

Before studying overseas, getting a passport is one essential step. A passport is your key to other countries and without it you won’t be getting very far.

If getting a passport for the first-time, you must apply in person. The United States Post Officeis the only place to get a passport for first time applicants.

Image provided by Goggle images.

An application must be filled out which is provided at the post office or can be found online through the State Department’s website. Make sure you remember to not sign the application until instructed to do so in person.

Tip: If you were under the age of 16 when you received your first passport and it has expired, then you are considered a first-time applicant.

Once the application is filled out, you will need to provide two types of identification; one proving U.S. citizenship and one current I.D.

Acceptable forms of identification for U.S. citizenship include:
• Previously issued, undamaged U.S. Passport
• Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state
• Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Birth Certificate
• Naturalization Certificate

Tip: The post office will take this and send it in with your passport application. It will later be returned.

Acceptable forms of current identification:
• Previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport
• Naturalization Certificate
• Valid driver’s license
• Current Government ID (city, state, or federal)
• Current Military ID (military and dependents)

Image provided by Google images

Before taking the trip to the post office, you want to make sure you bring one passport photo with you. The photo must be a 2” x 2” color photo printed on photo quality paper. A full list of passport photo requirements can also be found at the State Department’s website. Lucky enough for us, most CVS/Pharmacy and Walgreens can take professional-quality passport photos that are fast and convenient. Both stores will take the photo, adjust the measurements, and print out two copies in as little as ten minutes. CVS offers a $2.00 Off Coupon for Passport Photos, making them only $5.99.

The last step in applying for a passport is paying the fee, because obviously nothing is free in life. If you are applying for your first time, adult passport the current price is $135. Check the State Department’s web site for other passport fees and current prices.

After your full application has been sent in, it takes about four to six weeks for your passport to arrive in the mail. Your citizenship identification will arrive about a week before the passport does. Once you receive your passport, keep it in a safe place. It took a good amount of time and money to get one and it would be a shame to have to do that again.

The State Department’s web site offers a cool tool on international travel. Just select from the drop down menu the county you are interested in studying and it will provide you with information on the conditions abroad. Provided is the country’s description, embassy location and smart traveling tips, entry and exit requirements, safety and crime concerns, criminal penalties, and other information on smart traveling practices.

Now that you have a passport, the next step is the fun part, picking a place to study.