Tuesday, November 23, 2010 myBiz Blog
Studying Abroad Worries by Carly Miller

by Wisconsin BBA student Carly Miller

As fall semester comes to a close, many business students are preparing to study abroad in the spring now that fall on-campus recruiting has ended. I thought it might to be helpful to share some of my pre-departure worries, how I solved them, or the mistakes I made and how you can do better than I did.

Worry #1: Luggage: I recommend bringing a backpack and tote as carry-ons and check a large, four wheel suitcase with a duffel bag packed inside.

I spent a lot of time agonizing about what luggage to bring. I decided to check a large suitcase on the way over and carry-on a smaller suitcase and a backpack. I ran into trouble with the carry-on suitcase because it was significantly over the weight limit. I was surprised; I have never had a carry on weighed before! Once I arrived in Italy, it was difficult to wheel two suitcases around, especially because there are less elevators, the cobblestone streets are uneven, and public transportation can involve running and lifting. I thought I would need the smaller suitcase for traveling after my program, but it was a lot easier to bring my backpack since it was easy to carry and free to bring on the airplane. It was nice to check two larger bags on the plane ride home for souvenirs, but that is why I suggest packing a duffel bag that you can fill on the way home.

Worry #2: Packing: I recommend packing your suitcase, and then taking half out. Also, wait to buy any additional items that you need until you make it to the new country.

Part of traveling is learning how to pack and travel lightly. Leave all of your junk behind and enjoy a simpler life abroad. Also, save money by making your necessary purchases double as souvenirs. I bought a great zippered over-the-shoulder shoulder bag that I used every day abroad and now I have a unique leather bag from Florence.

Worry #3: Documents: Keep all of your travel documents and confirmations in a folder with you as fly over.

I was worried about losing an important document or not having everything that I needed once I was overseas and had limited access to the Internet. It was reassuring to have everything that I could need printed and in one place. I had my flight itinerary, my study abroad handbook, contact information for my program, bus tickets, and my passport.

Worry #4: Planning weekend trips: Read a guidebook on the international flight, but do not try to plan the details ahead of time.

It is usually completely fine to plan weekend trips around Europe only a week or few days in advance. I used Hostelworld to book rooms and ryanair to book flights for smaller trips with people from my program. It was helpful to read Rick Steve’s guide to Italy to learn about the city I would be living in and potential destinations that I might want to visit.

Does anyone have other worries about studying abroad? Or did you have similar questions when you were preparing to study abroad? Finally, do any of you have advice for people studying abroad?  Leave a comment below!