6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going on a Study TourAugust 2, 2019
- Bring a backpack.
Yes, it sounds simple. But a handbag or pockets just doesn’t cut it. Unfortunately I had to learn that the hard way…
- Try and organise some fun (and safe) activities in the evening with your new friends.
Study tours can get intense with work, so it’s super important to schedule in some fun in the evenings. Everyone is in the same boat and you’re all doing the same work, so get to know each other properly in a relaxed environment. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together – might as well make the most of it. Go out to some markets and explore, to a local restaurant to eat dinner together, or maybe to some sneaky nighttime shopping. Whichever way, doing some fun and safe activities can really boost your tired spirits. But make sure you’re not out too late, sleep is vital for getting through study tours!
- Make sure you decide what is happening with your phone plan prior to leaving.
Luckily there are a couple options and while I was prepared, some of my friends weren’t. This is a great learning opportunity. Being without a functional sim card can be really frustrating and sometimes unsafe, so making sure you have a phone that can call locally and internationally is key. The first option is buying a pre-paid sim in the country you’re studying in. This is budget friendly and can get you a lot of cellular data and calls for a small amount of money. But it means your phone number will change, so make sure you warn family and friends back home that they can reach you on your temporary number. Alternatively (and what I did), is get an international plan that has a daily fee, but has unlimited domestic and international calls for your time overseas. While it is a bit more pricey, it does mean you can keep your original number and saves you having to get a sim while you’re over there.
Data and calls without an international sim or plan can get very expensive – make sure you decide what is best for you prior to leaving so you don’t come home to crazy phone bills.
- Keep in contact with loved ones.
Family and friends will miss you, and you will miss them. Give them a call when you can.
- Do not, and I repeat, do not exchange currency while you are at an airport or when you arrive.
Why, you ask? Airport rates work notoriously against your favour, simply because of location. There are no competing currency exchange places at an airport, so the one that’s there doesn’t need to have competitive rates, meaning they will squeeze as much money as they can out of you.
While you are overseas, the last thing you want to do is look for an exchange place that has good exchange rates – you’ll be way too busy. Do some rough budgeting, plan ahead, allow for spare spending money, and exchange cash before leaving.
- Try and eat some healthier meals when you can.
I know, I know: you’re overseas, you want to immerse yourself in the culture and food. But remember that these foods will be a bit different from your usual everyday meal and sometimes our bodies can only handle so much – especially unhealthy food. Don’t get me wrong, enjoy the local food, but also keep in mind that you’re there to study. In order for the best brain function, nutrients every now and then will help you get through the long days. Some people on my tour got a little unwell from not incorporating healthier meals. Eating fruit and vegetables once in a while will do you a world of good.
Mariah Lattas is a former participant of the University of Adelaide’s International Study Tour: Politics, in Singapore with Dr Benito Cao.