How do I prepare for a study abroad?

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Elowen Conley
May 21, 2023

Hi everyone!

I’m here to share some super exciting news: I’m going to Paris this summer! 

A study abroad is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while, but as I’ve started to get ready for my trip, I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed. So, I’m making this guide to help students figure out A. If a study abroad is the right choice, and B. How to prepare for a long time away from home.

  1. Should I do a study abroad?

My first instinct is to tell you YES! But that’s not very helpful. Doing a study abroad can be very difficult. Homesickness is a real thing that can turn wonderful experiences into hard ones. So, I would recommend trying it out first. As a kid, I spent a lot of time doing summer camps or spending a week with my Grandparents. If you’ve done stuff like that before, a study abroad is still going to push your boundaries, but it won’t be too hard. If you haven’t spent any time away from home, now’s the time to try! Go on a week vacation with your friends, or go see a relative in a different state, and see how you feel. 

  1. How do I prepare for a study abroad?

There are lots of important things to do before a study abroad: language learning, preparing to fly, and communicating with your host family.

For example, do you speak the language of where you’re going? If you haven’t, now’s the time to start Duolingo! Or, memorize a few key phrases:

Where is the bathroom? = Où sont les toilettes?

I would like… = Je voudrais… 

Bonjour / bonsoir = Hello (day / evening)

Merci beaucoup! = Thank you very much.

J’ai besoin d’aide. = I need help.


Just knowing a few phrases in your study abroad country’s language will improve your experience a lot! In France, it’s important to say “bonjour” when you enter any establishment (not the metro or buses) and to say “merci, au revoir” when you leave. Finding out what is polite in the country is extremely important.

Doing a study abroad program also means that you will probably be flying somewhere! For first time fliers—TSA has amazing YouTube videos that can help you understand the process. Here are my tips on what to do for your flight:

  1. Always bring an empty water bottle through TSA. This way, you don’t have to buy water before you get on the plane. Most airports have water fountains, so you can just fill it up after you’re through!
  2. Keep essential items close. If you need medication or even just your Nintendo Switch, keep it in your carry-on that’s the easiest to pull stuff out of. For me, I used a backpack. 
  3. Checked bags: 50 lbs or less of whatever you want. I put all of my shampoo and conditioner in my checked bag, because you don’t have to adhere to the 3.4oz rule!

Are you staying with a host family? If you are, you’ll want to reach out to them before your program so they can provide you with essential information. For me, this meant receiving the code to the apartment (super important!). Don’t be too worried about getting to know your host family over email—there’s time for that later. Make sure you tell them when you expect to arrive and update them with any delays. And if you want to be super duper nice, bring them a gift! Try to choose something that has significance about where you’re from. For me, I’m from Ohio, so I brought them the Buckeye chocolates!

More updates to come soon once I’m settled! I hope this guide helps you learn a bit more about preparing for a study abroad and if it’s the right fit for you.

Signing off,


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Headshot of Elowen Conley

Elowen Conley

Hi! My name's Elowen Conley and I'm a History Major at Ohio State! I'm pre-law, but I'm also working on a French minor. I love to spend time outdoors reading, going to the gym with my friends, and taking care of my plants!

2023 Summer 1
Home University:
Ohio State University, The
Columbus, OH
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