How I Prepared for my Study Abroad

This post is sponsored by ClassTracker, and I received a copy of the planner in exchange for my honest review. There are also affiliate links featured in the post, through which I may receive a commission for purchases made through them. Thank you for supporting what makes The Wise Willow possible! 

Where did the summer go? I feel like just last month I was leaving my room in college and getting ready for my summer travels! Now it is the 23rd of August and normally I would be moving back into a dorm on campus and getting ready for the semester. But this semester is different, and it’s hard to believe that it came so quickly. I am packing my bags once again and getting ready to go to Serbia for the semester! This can be quite the process, so I wanted to share how I’m going about it for anyone who might be going through the same thing!

Planning, Planning, and More Planning

A lot of planning goes into a regular college semester, and even more goes into a semester abroad. More extraneous logistics and details have to be figured out ahead of time, but it’s all more than worth it. However, I’m not one of those people who can remember everything that they have to do without help. Which is why I love planners so much! I was looking for a new planner to use for this school year, and the ClassTracker planner is the perfect fit.

I was looking for a minimalist planner that would allow me to write down everything I need to do in a way that would be easy to decipher when I take quick glances at my to-do list (has anyone else taken a look at their to-do list and felt completely lost?). I have made many lists that make it hard to remember what to prioritize and when, but the ClassTracker planner has many sections in the weekly layout for all of these details!

Each day I will fill in the top “remember to” panel with important logistics that are usually unrelated to my studies (for example, “remember to send _____ email or remember to go to the store to get more almond milk”). Then there is a space for “quizzes/exams/papers/projects” which I haven’t been filling out yet for the most part as I learn more about my classes upon my arrival.

The “assignments” space is the one I use the most at the moment to keep track of the pre-semester reading assignments and my progress. I write down the specific sections I am going to read each day to make sure that I stay on track. The bottom “activities” section is quite helpful for remembering what other commitments I have each day as I prepare to leave. The monthly pages let me plan big events (like my study abroad departure date!) and keep the big picture in mind.

Preparing to go abroad can be an overwhelming task, but planning really does help to alleviate a lot of the stress that comes along with it! From remembering what to pack to keeping up with reading, writing it down gives me peace of mind that I will have everything I need for my journey. I highly recommend this planner for all of your academic and activity needs! There are a bunch of colors to choose from (I chose the coral color and it’s beautiful!) and it’s perfect for all kinds of students!

Preparing, Preparing, and More Preparing

Now that I have written everything down, it’s time for the actual prep! I received an email to my campus inbox (make sure you’re checking that regularly even though it’s still summer!) about all of the last minute details I would need to know for my program. I joined the online group and printed out the materials that I would need to read over (orientation guides and logistics). They also supplied a list of required and recommended reading materials. A study abroad semester makes this aspect a bit more difficult, as I wasn’t sure whether to look for electronic copies of all of the books that I needed to save space and weight in my luggage. However, I know myself as a student and know that used hardcopies work the best for me.

With that, I went to Textbooks.com to look at the prices of their books and they had all but one of the books I needed. I spent $20 on six books and was able to get the other one quickly from Amazon! They arrived faster than I thought they would, which gave me time to start the readings for the semester and to really reflect on the material. I also bought sticky notes, BIC Atlantis gel pens in black (my favorite pens ever–I’m someone who never uses pencil so I go through pens so fast! But these last for a long time and are super comfortable!), and a five-subject notebook so that I would only have to worry about carrying one notebook around with me. I also picked up two composition notebooks for homeworks that don’t need to be submitted, as I can use the paper in the notebook to turn in assignments. The last part of preparation, and possibly the hardest part, is packing.

Packing, Packing, and More Packing

Since I have just arrived back home from all of my travels I am a bit more prepared than I normally would be to start packing. However, this journey is four months long instead of two months and requires more logistical thinking.

To start, I determined how many bags I would be bringing with me. This is a really important step, because it determines the amount of space that you have to work with. When I traveled this summer, I took three total bags: a small waterproof backpack, another slightly larger backpack from SOLO NY, and a SOLO NY duffel bag/backpack combo. This was perfect for two full months of travel–but since I will be bringing a few more things and school materials I knew I would need more space.

So I have decided to bring the following: my small waterproof backpack (this is the perfect bag for valuables!), a large backpacking bag from Eagle Creek (I got this from a thrift store for $30!), and a small rolling luggage piece for my books and other materials. Now that I know how much space I have to work with, I can start the more complicated part!

For clothes, I checked the forecast for Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo as well as the recommended packing list sent by my program. I allocated my entire backpack and a small portion of my rolling bag for clothing–given that I need four months worth and clothing for different temperatures. I also looked on Pinterest and through my copy of Organizing for Your Lifestyle (if you haven’t seen my minimalist travel tips check out the post here!) for packing inspiration and space-efficient ideas.

I am also bringing all of my supplements (I recently changed up the ones I am using due to what I discovered about my wellness and travel–post coming soon!) and will put these in the rolling bag. I highly recommend bringing all of your supplements and normal wellness remedies with you to make sure that you stay balanced among the changes that come with travel!

Finally, I made sure that all of my important documentation was copied and kept in multiple places to be on the safe side. I also made sure I completed all of my preparations for the semester, and had all of the materials that my program required (an unlocked smartphone that is SIM compatible, for example).

Are you studying abroad or preparing for a new semester? What are your preparation tips? Let me know in the comments!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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  • Zohra

    Awesome post! I hope to study abroad next year, hopefully New York for my masters so this is a great start 🙂

    http://www.yourealreadyinvited.com

    • http://www.thewisewillow.com Alyssa DeBella

      Thank you!! So glad you liked it! What a fun study abroad place! What are you looking to get a masters in?

Alyssa DeBella

21 | Lifestyle blogger | Minimalist | Dreamer ✨| Language Lover 💕| Animal Obsessed ❤️🐶| Double Major 📚| Vegan 🌱 |Traveler ✈️ (currently in: Europe)
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