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Things To Know Before Going Abroad

Moving abroad to the United States from England has allowed me to meet so many new people, see so many new places, and experience so many new things. Because of this, I often say that studying abroad is one of the best decisions I ever made. 

Coming to Boston College seemed daunting at first, but in the end, I found that moving to a new country was relatively easy. Still, there were a few vital things I wish I had known before leaving home. 

SIM Cards

In today’s day and age, few things are more important than our cell phones. But what is the point of a phone if you can’t use it? 

This is the question I found myself asking upon landing at Logan Airport. I stepped off my flight and suddenly my phone could no longer connect to cell service or wifi. I spent my entire first week in the United States trying to find a SIM card for my phone, only to find out that my phone was not compatible with most SIM cards here. One phone store even said I needed to buy a whole new phone! This was the last thing I needed as I tried to acclimate to life in a new country.

If you want to avoid this disaster, I recommend researching SIM cards suitable for your phone before leaving. One of the most efficient ways to do this is to check if your cell phone provider offers a global SIM card, allowing you to receive international cell service and keep your current phone number. Alternatively, you can research what mobile data providers are popular in the country you are moving to and what SIM card options they offer.

Bank Accounts

The only thing as important as your cell phone is your debit or credit card. During my first few weeks in the United States, I survived on cash. The workers at Bank of America probably sighed every time they saw me walk through their doors to make another withdrawal. I thought I could sort out a bank account once I arrived here, but I didn’t realize how tedious and time-consuming it would be to travel back and forth from the bank in the interim.

For my fellow UK students, I advise checking out some online banking apps like Monzo or Revolut. You can also find out if your current bank offers global accounts. If you want to source a bank card in your host country, I recommend having an online account as a backup anyways. It will allow you to start spending as soon as you arrive, saving lots of stress and time!

Bring Your Favorite Items

Do you have a specific hair product you use after every shower? Just bring it. I thought I could buy little items—like my perfume or hairbrush—once I landed in the United States, but I found they were either more expensive than back home or a hassle to purchase. If your luggage allows it, I recommend bringing your favorite products and most-used items with you. It will save you time and money while allowing you to keep the same daily routine you had back home.

Say Yes!

The first few days into your time abroad can be daunting, but it is essential to put yourself out there and form initial connections during this time. Before arriving, find out what welcome events your host university is holding and make an effort to go socialize.

Some universities also offer group chats to meet other exchange students, which I wholeheartedly recommend joining. Students in these group chats are going through the same experience as you, so reaching out can help relieve some anxiety. 

And if someone asks you to go do something with them, say yes! Busying yourself with activities can make the transition a lot easier.

Research Costs Beforehand.

My final tip is to research costs beforehand. Everyone back home told me things in the United States would be cheaper than back home, but I learned the hard way that living in Boston is much more expensive than living in Bristol. Things like rent, food, and toiletries tend to be considerably pricier here. 

Devising a budget for yourself can help you feel more secure once you reach your destination. 

Ultimately, going abroad and experiencing the world may be one of the best experiences of your life. The more prepared you are beforehand, the more time you will have to enjoy the limited time your have in a new and exciting place.

December 3, 2023