My Checklist for Preparing to Study Abroad

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Woohyun Kwen
August 24, 2023

I vividly remember when I officially confirmed to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain back in the spring. This was the moment that my long-time dream of studying in a foreign country became a reality. It was not until I booked my plane ticket that I realized this was actually happening.

Despite my uncontrollable excitement, I began to worry, ‘Am I really prepared for this?’ To be absolutely honest, I knew so little about the cultures and customs of Spain and even less about the city of Salamanca. However, I didn’t let these worries discourage me and reminded myself that it was completely normal to not have much information yet. In fact, the whole point of studying abroad is to learn through my personal experiences of living in a foreign country. I put my worries aside and began to prepare myself for spending nearly 4 months abroad.

1) I’ve been working closely with my college’s study abroad office to plan out all of the logistics such as budgeting, course credit transfers, and other school policies. In addition, speaking to my academic advisor regarding major requirements and course selections has been very insightful as well. Utilizing these resources at my college has been very helpful in preparing for my study abroad experience. 

2) I have been using the pre-departure guideline for my program, which covers mostly everything you need to know before arriving, which ranges from a packing list to a guide through Salamanca. Another great source has been the student blogs and social media that share each student’s personal stories and adventures during their time abroad, which has given me a better understanding of the city. In fact, I started a bucket list of all the wonderful things other students did to make the most of their time in Salamanca. This authentic look into what studying abroad can look like has been one of the best resources for me to prepare for my time abroad.

3) I’ve been polishing my rusty Spanish by watching some La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) and reading Largo pétalo de mar (A Long Petal of the Sea) by Isabelle Allende with LOTS of help from the dictionary. My goal is to really immerse myself in the local community, so I’m working on familiarizing myself with the language before my arrival. 

4) I’ve been preparing to say a temporary goodbye to family and friends for the time I will be abroad. This last step is always a challenge, but my loved ones have been very supportive throughout my preparations. They have given me countless tips and advice on traveling, packing, cooking, and pretty much everything I will need for my study abroad journey. As I approach my departure date, I am looking forward to spending more quality time and laughter with the people around me. 

As I am less than a week away from arriving in Spain, I am thrilled to continue my preparations and embark on my study abroad adventure. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Woohyun Kwen

Hi! I am a junior studying Education Studies and Psychology on the pre-health track at Amherst College. In my free time, I love to paint scenery, go on long walks, and sing my heart out to my favorite pop songs.

2023 Fall
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