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Predeparture Jitters? What You Should Know as an IES Abroad Student

May 18, 2017

Because this is my first blog post, I want to briefly introduce myself! My name is Alex Ennes and I’m a rising junior at Temple University studying English with minors in Criminal Justice and Arabic. Although I live in Philadelphia for school, my parents live between North Carolina and Massachusetts, so I’m always somewhere on the Eastern seaboard. I’m studying Arabic this summer through IES Abroad’s Rabat Summer – Francophone Studies and Arabic Language. I’m leaving in about a week and I couldn’t be more excited! Anyways, on to my predeparture advice!

So you’re going away for the summer, or the semester, or even the whole year! You’re uprooting yourself from the comfort of routine and familiarity, so it’s pretty natural to feel nervous about leaving. I’m exchanging my summer in Cape Cod for a summer in Rabat, Morocco in a week and I’m pretty nervous! Throughout the last few months, I’ve been worried about anything from speaking Arabic on a daily basis to booking my flights to what living in a homestay will be like. I’m a worrier – It’s what I do. If you are also prone to worrying over everything and anything, check out some of the tips below that helped me through my predeparture nervousness:

  • Know your resources! IES Abroad has some awesome resources for students (many of which are listed below) that can really help you out if you have any sort of questions.
  • Use your advisor. My advisor, Jasmine, was absolutely incredible and extremely helpful whenever I had questions. Your advisor is the person who will know your program best, so they’re pretty great people to turn to with any questions about your time abroad.
  • Connect with an IES Abroad Ambassador! If going to your advisor is a little intimidating or you’re looking for the opinion of someone who has gone through the student experience themselves, find an IES Abroad Ambassador who attended your program. I had some questions about what clothes to bring on my trip, and the IES Abroad Ambassador I contacted gave me lots of advice that I hadn’t seen on any of my previous research!
  • Consume some media about the place you’re going to. This can mean anything from books to movies to vlogs to news. I found that the more I learned about Morocco, the more excited I became for my trip there. I’m a big reader as an English major, so I got a Fodor’s Travel Guide on Morocco and read up! If reading isn’t your thing, check out some documentaries on your host country (the Travel channel usually has good ones!). And if you want to learn more about your specific program, IES Abroad has plenty of student blogs and vlogs that you can read and watch to get the IES Abroad spin on things! Educating yourself about the environment you’ll be in won’t only make you more informed, but might relax some of those predeparture worries.
  • Talk to other travelers. Depending on who you know, you may get some pretty great advice on what to do and bring during your time abroad. Both of my siblings studied abroad when they were in college and I’ve traveled a good amount in my lifetime, so I am lucky to come into this experience with a lot of prior experience – If you’ve never traveled or are worried about the “study” part of study abroad, ask around! People who have studied abroad before might have some pretty good advice for you.

I hope that these tips have helped! Obviously, there are a million travel tips on the internet, but these ones are pretty specific to you as an IES Abroad student. IES Abroad provides us with a lot of resources so that doing research is easy and we know exactly what we’re getting into. I also hope you’ve enjoyed this post – next time I write here, I’ll be in Rabat!

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