Pre-Departure Tips and Tricks
Cidney, Fall 2023, Sorrento
September 25, 2023

Preparing to study abroad can be a stressful and overwhelming time. There are many factors to consider when studying abroad. This post will help you navigate some of the complicated decisions you may need to make, and I will give you so tips to stay ahead of schedule.

Money and funds tend to be one of the main reasons students do not study abroad; however, there are many tools you can use to support your time abroad.

1. Make sure to apply to all study abroad scholarships offered by your home university as well as your study abroad university. Many schools will also allow you to use any scholarships you already have for study abroad, so check in with your financial aid office about that as well.
2. Check out any private and student loan options available to you. Many student loans have better rates, but it is also easy and quick to get a private loan from your bank as well.
3. Look into exchange programs vs. other study abroad programs. The cost may vary based on the type and destination of the study abroad program.
4. Get to know your financial aid advisor or director. They will be able to provide you with more information and act as a guide and resource.

My friend and I did a VIVA experience through SAI during week 2. We kayaked to the Regina Giovanna and the cliff jumped!

Getting Ahead:
One of the things that helped me stay less stressed during the pre-departure process was always being ahead of the game.

1. Make sure your passport won’t expire for at least 6 months after you plan to depart from your study abroad program. You will likely need a VISA to study abroad, so having your passport ready is one less thing to worry about. Passports can also take a long time to renew, so this will save you time and stress.
2. Try and start saving up money as soon as you know you want to study abroad so you have enough for deposits or any other fees that may not be covered by financial aid.
3. You will be receiving lots of paperwork for your study abroad trip. Make sure to stay on top of this and get everything done as early as possible. This will help you catch any missed details or get started on important things way before any deadlines start approaching.
4. Make sure you are in good standing at your home university and will not get behind by studying abroad. If you think you may get behind, talk to your advisor and consider taking summer classes to catch up.
5. If you don’t already have a credit card, get one prior to departure. Credit cards offer more security protection, which will be helpful while traveling to other countries. Visa and MasterCard tend to have the highest acceptance rates across countries, so those are good to look at, but make sure you get a card that will work for the location of your study abroad. Student travel credit cards are a great option and will offer lots of rewards and no international fees.

During week 1, I met so many new friends and we all went to Capri for the day! We hiked, took a private boat taxi, and swam at Marina Piccola.

Obtaining a VISA can be a complicated process. Each country has different requirements, and depending on where you live, your general consulate may have additional requirements.

1. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the general consulates for the country you will be residing in. Your home address or school address will determine which consulate you will fall under. If you go to school in a different area than you live, you may have a 2nd consulate option to choose from. Pick whichever one will be the most convenient for you (if you have that option).
2. Have all the required paperwork ready and in order when you send/take it to the general consulate for your VISA processing. If you are missing ANYTHING, you will not get your VISA. The process can take weeks, so try and do it right the first time.
3. You will need to ship your VISA or meet with the consulate in person. This can be an expensive process, so make sure you determine what you will need to do and verify that you have the means to pay for any fees.
4. If you get confused or don’t understand something, reach out to the study abroad office and your foreign university. They will be familiar with all the updated materials required for your trip and will be able to assist you and help you understand any confusing parts of the process.

During the weekend of week 2, we went to Florence to celebrate a friend’s birthday! We ended up going to the Uffizi, Accademia Gallery, and Duomo.

Making Friends:

Many of us have ended up on “Study Abroad Tik-Tok.” Many of the videos, posts, and things we see online make it sound as if, immediately when you land, you will make instant lifelong connections. However, it may take a few days to settle in and meet new people.

1. Put yourself out there. The only way to meet new people is to start a conversation. Try and talk to everyone and have no initial judgments about people or their backgrounds.
2. Accept that not everyone will like you or want to get to know you. This may be hard, but the right people will come along.
3. Spend time with people who have similar goals while studying abroad. Most people study abroad to experience a new culture and environment, make new friends, and go on new adventures. Not everyone will have this same point of view, and it may be frustrating to you. But don’t worry, there will be other students who want to have a similar experience as you. Try to find and connect with these people.


When you first arrive at your study abroad program, and possibly throughout the trip, you may become stressed. It is important that you remember that this is your own experience. Some things that helped me and my fellow classmates were:

1. Reach out to someone and talk about what you are feeling and why.
2. Try and become connected on the campus and within the community.
3. Take advantage of every opportunity no matter how small.
4. Try and plan outings with friends.
5. When you meet other students, connect with them via number or social media so you have a way to reach out to people.
6. If people are going out, even if it is to the grocery store, just go! You never know what adventures you might face.

Written by: Cidney, Fall 2023 Sorrento student from University of Mary Washington

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