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Managing Your Business Affairs while Studying Abroad

Studying in another country is a spectacular opportunity! Not only will you learn interesting new subjects, you'll be submerged into a new culture and possibly even a new language, meaning your learning opportunities are literally endless. But being away from your home country for an extended time is challenging, and sometimes even a bit scary. You'll need to arrange for financial assistance, set up mail forwarding services, and plan for emergencies. Here's how to make sure your personal business is attended to while you're away.

Apply for Grants and Scholarships

Money is usually a primary concern for those studying abroad. Grants and scholarships are available to alleviate much of the expense, so be sure to apply for all that you might qualify for. Never assume you don't qualify! Apply for any you can find. All they can do is turn you down, right? Often students are surprised at what they do qualify for.

Plan for Mail Forwarding

Unless you have reliable family back home that have plenty of time and money to mail you an endless stream of mail, including packages and letters from friends, credit card companies, schools, and everyone else, you'll want to arrange for a mail forwarding service. This service sets you up with a verifiable U.S. address you can give out as your own. Then you can receive packages in the States, and the service forwards those to you at your international address. It's ideal for students studying abroad, because they don't have to miss out on anything back home, but also don't have to tell the whole world they are out of the country.

Study the Country You'll Be Living In

The more you know about the country where you'll be studying, the better things will go. You won't have to worry about embarrassing yourself by not knowing its customs, and you'll be able to impress your hosts with good manners and social skills. It's also good to brush up as much as possible on common phrases you might need, such as, "Where is the restroom?" and "How much does this cost?"

Stock Up on Items You Can't Live Without

A lot of the websites you're used to shopping with back home don't offer international shipping. You'll need to either stock up on items you desperately need, or arrange for international forwarding from your U.S. shipping address to get those items sent to you. Also, remember that certain countries use different types of electrical plugs, so you'll want to stock up on converters so you can still use your electronics.

Scan, Save, and Print Important Documentation

If you lose your passport, visa, and other documentation, you're in real trouble. Don't take a chance. Scan those documents, including your airline tickets, driver's license, insurance cards, and other important documents, and print out several copies. Also, keep a copy on your hard drive back home, as well as a thumb drive you take with you. You can always have copies printed from a thumb drive at a library computer or hotel overseas.

After preparing for your absence, have fun! Studying abroad is a unique and exciting opportunity that not all students get to enjoy. Make the most out of your stay, and bring back wonderful memories to treasure for a lifetime. 

Image by CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr 

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