The weather is solidly spring – wavering from delicious sunshine to blustery rain by the hour. But if you are hoping to spend this summer abroad studying or volunteering, it’s time to start focusing. What you need to do to prepare for a summer abroad depends a lot on where you are going and what you will do there. But some things are universal. Wherever you are going and whatever you are going to do there, you will almost certainly have some leisure time to fill locally. You’ll live somewhere. So it makes sense to start preparing yourself to dive into the local culture, and to start thinking about what you will need there.
The first step to preparing yourself to enjoy wherever you are spending the summer is to study the place. You can learn a lot of basic information about the culture, climate and sights to see while you are there online. An even better source of information is other students who have gone before you. They can give you the inside scoop on the little things that can be incredibly rewarding or totally frustrating. They can tell you what is overrated in the guide books or what cultural mishaps might befall you. Other students are the ones who can tell you who can help you while you are there and who is best avoided as much as possible.
What Should You Bring?
Other students can also tell you what things you can’t get locally. Worried you can’t survive without your favourite brand of tea or crisps? Concerned the local chocolate won’t measure up? Other students can tell you where to find them there or if you should ship yourself a supply. They can also let you know what the living accommodation is like. Do you need to bring bedding and towels? What about a good pair of wellies? A proper tea pot?
Summer tends to fly by quickly no matter where or how you spend it. Deciding what you can or cannot live without is very personal. Some people might be able to roll with whatever is local, while others might be uncomfortable, homesick or just plain cranky without some home comforts. If you ship things ahead, you’ll have them right away. If you wait until you get there to see what you want and ask the folks back home to send it, you’ll be without it for a significant portion of the summer.