Angelina Jorge may be surrounded by the jungle in Costa Rica, but she and three of her study abroad pals took the time to create a list of mistakes they made before studying abroad. They’re here to help and amuse.
Preparing yourself to study abroad begins as soon as you receive that acceptance letter. For most of us, that was in February; which means we only had a few short months to get ourselves together. We had to purchase plane tickets, start packing, finish all of our pre-trip assignments and let’s not forget all of our other day-to-day responsibilities! We had to find time between work, class, errands, homework, and everything else to prepare. Let’s just say, we made a few mistakes along the way…
#1.) Improper packing.
Make sure to go down your itinerary and look at your day-to-day activity list. You may need hiking clothes, classroom attire, professional dress, or swimsuits. Bring extra clothes as well because you won’t always have access to laundry. We’re here in Costa Rica’s “winter” season which means heavy rain and an average of 70-81 degree days. So while we may be tempted to bring only shorts and tank tops, some of our activities require long pants and rain gear. And when you wear workout clothes seven days of the week, you’ll want a nice dress shirt or skirt the one night of your trip you get to go to a fancy restaurant or celebrate someone’s birthday.
#2.) Location. Location. Location.
Although it may seem like you will have zero time to yourself, there will be nights where you will have the opportunity to go out and explore. If you have never been in that specific city/town before, you should definitely do some homework. Research what the local food is, what fun activities there are for you to take advantage of, and how to get around. Although we have two meals included per day, our nights are more often than not filled with hangry* conversations: “Where are we going to eat?” “How are we going to call a taxi with no international plan on our phone and no Spanish speaker in our group?”
#3.) Foreign Country. Strange people.
Whether you like it or not, you are about to spend a whole lot of time with the same group of people. You don’t and shouldn’t have to arrive in a foreign country to a group of strangers who you have to make awkward interactions with. The emotional ties and bonds you create during your study abroad experience are inevitable; so you might as well make it a smoother transition. Starting a WhatsApp group chat before the trip could help you break the ice with your future comrades.
*Hangry= hungry + angry
***The students who pitched their grievances to me so I could write this are: Jaime DeLaCruz (Providence), Natalia Gattuso (Providence) and Maryrose Cascina (Providence).