1. Keep a Journal!
"You’re going to want to have a place to keep all of your ridiculous memories, especially the moments you experience during your first week! You’re about to make memories that will last you a lifetime. It might sound cheesy, but it is so true."
2. Get Ready to Learn the Metric System
"The United States is one of the only countries that does not use the metric system, so be prepared for blank stares when you accidentally say the temperature in Fahrenheit or order deli meat in pounds. Do not worry though because it does not take long to get used to the metric system!"
3. The Food (Even the Stuff You Know) Is Different
"And that doesn't make it bad! Just different. Sometimes I would go to a McDonalds to get a little taste of home and even their menu is different. Pasta in Italy doesn't taste the same as pasta in America. The biggest thing when it comes to food is trying everything and really immersing yourself in that culture's food because you may find things you never thought you would."
4. You'll Stay Friends With People Back Home
"A big fear of a lot of people have going abroad is that 6 months, even a year, is a heck of a long time to stay away from friends or significant others. But they're going through the same thing you are. The people that are in your life that are the cornerstones of your social circle, and that are your closest friends, don't just simply disappear. Friendships have remained over my abroad experience, and probably even gotten stronger as we both realize how important they are to us."
5. You'll Spend More Than You Plan To
"From a practicality angle, it's not a question of IF you will spend more money than you plan too, its a question of HOW MUCH more you will spend than you planned to. Don't let money hinder your experience and your travels!"
6. It's Okay to Go Off Alone
"I wish someone would have stressed to me how it is OK to go off on your own. I was hesitant and scared, but it made me even more independent and I became a great "discoverer." Getting lost is OK and not everything you do needs to be done in some big group. Going solo is a great way to get immersed in the country you're in."
7. There's Plenty of Freedom
"It's not like a normal semester at school where you can go home on the weekends or go out with your friends. You become an adult, you meets friends that will last a lifetime and you grow as a person. You get to make every decision, so relax and have fun. Make sure you make the most of it because it goes by very fast and all you are left with are a few stories pictures and memories."
8. Expect Imperfection
"Trains don’t run on time, people don’t always show up, flights are delayed, hostels can be weird, and days can be long. Just don’t let those imperfect moments ruin your time because those will be the moments that make you laugh the most later. I spent 26 hours on a supposed 8-hour train ride from Laos and it is still one of my favorite memories."
9. You'll Meet Extraordinary People
"No matter where you go, you'll meet some amazing locals. I felt completely accepted into the culture and I found that there were plenty of people just like me. Some people go abroad and get to meet the locals and students from around the globe doing the exact same thing you are doing. it's a great opportunity to meet people and see how they live first-hand."
10. Wherever You Are, Be Present.
"No matter where you go, you'll meet some amazing locals. I felt completely accepted into the culture and I found that there were plenty of people just like me. Some people go abroad and get to meet the locals and students from around the globe doing the exact same thing you are doing. It's a great opportunity to meet people and see how they live first-hand."