Top 10 Tips for Your Teens Planning to Study Abroad

We rallied the advice from Mary Dando, Director of Study Abroad Programs at the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as Jerri Stephenson and Kristina Wegscheider, co-founders of the female travel blog, Do It While You're Young, and came up with these 10 essential tips for a successful and safe study abroad experience!


1. File Your Trip
File Your Trip
The Smart Traveller Enrollment Program (STEP) allows you to register your trip online. "That way the State Department knows which Americans are located in an area if something should occur," says Dando. By providing an email, they are able to send you any alerts for the area where you are staying.


2. Get Insured

Get Insured
On top of your regular insurance at home, it is essential to get a policy that works overseas and includes care for any preexisting conditions. "It is important to look for insurance that covers evacuation," in the case of a political or natural disaster, says Dando.


3. Get Prescription Savvy

Get Perscription Savvy
Try to take a three to four month supply with you, along with a copy of the prescription, says Dando. But be warned: Certain drugs that are legal in the U.S. may not be legal elsewhere. She recommends referring to the Centers for Disease Control to see what is allowed - even common over-the-counter drugs may be prohibited in some places!


4. Cell Functions
Cell Functions
Be sure to call your cell phone provider before your departure to thoroughly understand any and all usage charges. It may even be better to purchase a cell phone in your destination country, "so you're paying what the locals are paying, and not the higher [long-distance] rate," says Dando.


5. Know Your Money Matters

Know Your Money Matters
To avoid expensive conversion costs, research your credit and/or debit card options before you go. When getting cash, "just make sure ATMs are used in well lit public areas with large amounts of traffic," says Dando.


6. Be a Copycat
Be a Copycat
Dando, Wegscheider and Stephenson all recommend making copies of your passport - print out several to bring with you, and email a scanned copy to yourself. "That way, if you lose it, you can always go to an Internet café and print it out," says Stephenson. This applies for other essential documentation as well: "I'll scan my travel information and all itineraries and send to Google documents or a shared site," says Wegscheider.


7. Read Up
Read up.
Educating yourself on where you are going is paramount. "One of the greatest sources is the state department," says Dando. Visit travel.state.gov for updated information, including crime rates and alerts, on your destination country. Also, reading newspapers online, before and during your trip, will help you to get in touch with what is going on, she says.


8. Know Your Digits
Know Your Digits
For American assistance, it is important to know where the embassies and consulates are located in your area. "You many never need it," says Stephenson, "but always keep those numbers handy." Also, Dando recommends carrying an emergency card that lists local police and hospital contact information, as well as that country's equivalent of 911.


9. Start a Buddy System
Start a Buddy System
"Never go out at night alone as a female in a new city," says Stephenson, who recommends having a buddy who you are accountable for, and vice versa. "It's safe during the day, if you use common sense."


10. Learn (Some of) the Lingo
Learn (Some of) the Lingo
While you may not be fluent in the language of your host country, it is beneficial to learn a few basic phrases, such as taxi, bathroom, and common salutations, to ease some communication conflicts.


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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.