You live by the motto ‘it’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times’? You can’t wait to jump on the next plane to begin your new foreign adventure? Well, hold your horses. Or rather: hold your pen and paper and write, because here is a checklist of things that will help you to plan your study, internship or work experiences abroad.
1. East, west, a home is better than under a bridge in Bucharest
Before you start looking for the best bars in the neighborhood, you better first find a place to stay. A search that is much more difficult and nerve-racking. Often your best bet will be to work with your university or local employer to find housing. If you search on the private housing market, make clear arrangements about the monthly rent. In some countries the electricity and water consumption are not included in the rent and are to be paid separately. If you can’t pre-arrange housing, you better arrive two weeks in advance to look for housing on-site. Finally, be cautious about making any commitments to a lease sight-unseen.
2. Oh, the paperwork
As soon as you know that you are going abroad, determine the kind of entry visa you will need for the country you are visiting. Of course, if you travel within the EEA you don’t need a visa. However, travelling outside the EEA can be more complicated. If you have to apply for a visa, you better do it as soon as you can because the approval can take some time (and yes, we’re talking about embassies so it can even take a few months). Furthermore, most receiving institutions request a copy of your passport, another essential travel document. Make sure your passport is valid during your entire stay abroad.
3. 911 emergency!
Verify if your health insurance will cover you abroad and throughout the entire duration of your stay. Some insurances only cover for a certain period or for a maximum amount. Still, it is recommended to be fully covered –just in case you decide to fully discover the Spanish tradition and to participate in the encierro. Finally some countries require an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) to check if you’re vaccinated against some of the serious diseases found in other parts of the world.
4. Know your language
There you are. With a sesame bread in your hands, while you asked for a white bread. It’s always useful to know the most common expressions and basic words before you enter the panadería española. There are several universities or employers which ask you to take a language test as an entry requirement.