By Tara Miller
Studying abroad can be one of the best and most enlightening experiences you’ll have when you’re in college. You’ll get a chance to learn about another culture, see far away places and maybe even become fluent in the local language. While studying abroad can be fun, it can also be challenging if you aren’t prepared. Here are some tools to help you manage being away from home, including ways to keep in touch, make sure you can finance your trip and ensure you’re complying with all the legal issues involved in overseas travel.
These sites can offer a range of resources to students abroad, from information on how to stay safe to places where you can talk with other students.
- Transitions Abroad: No matter what you’re doing overseas, from working to going to college, this site offers resources, links, articles and advice.
- Study Abroad Student Handbook: Learn how to choose the right program, maintain your health and safety while away and return to the states without any legal trouble from this great online handbook.
- GoAbroad: Find information here on everything from rail travel abroad to how you can get a cell phone that will work in your host country.
- IIEPassport: On this site you’ll get access to resources about places to travel, how to get health care, scholarships and more.
- Study Abroad.com: This site will help you learn about all the study abroad programs out there, from high school to graduate college.
- Study Abroad Directory: Visit this site to learn about the wide range of study abroad resources and a programs out there.
- International Student: Learn about scholarships, engage with other students and learn about health concerns from this site.
- NRCSA: Language center listings, test prep and loads of information on study abroad programs around the world on this site.
- Study Overseas.comHere you’ll not only find program listings but a great selection of helpful online magazines as well. :
- TransWorld Education: Visit this site to learn about insurance when you’re away, get tips and tricks, and read the study abroad webzine.
Government and Safety Tools
U.S. citizens can make sure they’re traveling safe and with all the proper documentation through these sites.
- U.S. Department of State: From getting your student visa to finding out about safety conditions in your host country, you’ll find all the information you need here.
- Emabassy.org: Curious where the U.S. embassy is in your host country? Find listings for all embassies around the world on this site.
- Students.gov: Pay a visit to this site to read about government resources and programs for students abroad.
- Center for Disease Control: Learn if you might be ask risk for certain diseases and health conditions through the bulletins and advisories on the CDC website.
- International Driving Permits: Hoping to drive while you’re away? You’ll likely need a special license. Learn how to get one from this site.
- U.S Customs: Make sure nothing you’re bringing back home with you will cause you trouble by reviewing the customs regulations ahead of time.
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers: Here you can learn who and where to get medical help while you’re away.
- GotoMyPC: If you’ve forgotten something at home or need to access your home PC, you can do so easily with a free trial of this program.
Keeping in Touch
Make sure your friends and family know you’re safe and what you’re up to with these free tools.
- NetCafeGuide: Use this site as a resource to find out where an internet cafe is near you, so you can always be in touch.
- Skype: This popular service is a great way to make free or cheap international calls to those you care about or just to chat online.
- Rebtel: With this service you’ll get an alias number that will let you make dirt cheap international calls.
- Nimbuzz: Check out Nimbuzz to learn how to make free calls and instant messages from your mobile phone from anywhere.
- Fring: Download Fring to your mobile device and start enjoying free talk and chat.
- Meebo: With Meebo, you can access your MSN, AIM, MySpace and Yahoo chat from one place.
- Pidgin: From this service you can access virtually every instant messaging account out there, making it easy to chat with all your friend no matter what they use.
- eBuddy: Check out eBuddy to access your chat services from your computer or mobile phone.
- PostalRates: Want to send something home? This site will help you determine postal rates no matter where you are.
- WengoPhone: Use this free softphone to keep in touch with everyone dear to you without spending a fortune.
See all that your host country has to offer by using these resources to make travel easier no matter where you’re calling home.
- Hostelworld: Though this site you can find cheap, quality hostels to stay in so you can enjoy seeing the sights while you’re away.
- Hostels.com: Another hostel service, this site allows you to search for and book hostels just about anywhere.
- SERVAS International: Through this program, you can get to know a country even better with travel plans that set you up with great local families.
- Eurotrip: Make traveling through Europe much cheaper by reading up on discounts and deals on this site.
- Hosteling International: The U.S. division of this organization can help you find reliable hostels around the world.
- Routes International: Through this site you’ll find great airfares, hostel reservations and more.
- STA Travel: Get discounted rates on all your travel needs from this student travel site.
- Student Traveler: This site is geared towards the student studying abroad, and offers a range of information on travel planning and reservations.
- Student Travel Resources: With ticket deals and information, this site makes it easier for students to enjoy travel on a budget.
- Eurorail: For those studying abroad in Europe, this site makes it simple to purchase rail passes for extensive travel.
These online guides can help you learn what sites can’t be missed and what parts you may want to avoid while you’re seeing your new city.
- Lonely Planet: On this site you’ll find guides for destinations around the world, as well as a great online community where you can ask important questions and get answers.
- Frommer’s: From deals to tips and tools, this site has a lot of travel advice to offer.
- Fodor’s: Here you can find helpful forums, information on deals and even travel news updates that could affect your safety.
- TripAdvisor: From booking a hotel or flight to getting advice on the best tours, this site is a great one-stop resource.
- Let’s Go: Check out the free guides on this site to learn what to do and see in your neck of the woods.
- Rough Guides: Travelers on a serious budget should check out this site to learn the best ways to see it all and save big.
- WorldReviewer: Give this site a try to read reviews about places around the world and find out if you can get a great deal on a trip.
- WikiTravelPress: Want a travel guide but don’t want to pay a fortune? This site allows you to print a guide for only the cost of paper and ink.
- Virtual Tourist: Learn from the experiences of others what sites are worth visiting on this great travel community hub.
- RealTravel: Want to know what real people though about a hostel or a landmark? You can find out on this site that organizes opinions from people all over to give you a better picture of where you’re going.
Fitting In and Having Fun
Check out these online tools to learn what’s going on where ever you’re staying so you can get out and learn more about the local culture.
- Cultural Training Resource: Visit this site to learn how to prepare to live in another culture.
- Zvents: No matter where you are in the world you can use Zvents to keep up-to-date on concerts, movies and more.
- Time Out Worldwide: This popular guide goes global on this site, allowing you to find the best things to do anywhere.
- Event Guide: Click anywhere in the world to learn what cool things there are to do from culture to clubbing.
- Eventful: Here you’ll find listings of concerts, festivals and other community events.
- Art Museums Worldwide: Learn where the best spots to indulge in culture are in your area from this site.
- WorldWideArtResource: Find theatres, operas, literary readings and more through this directory.
- World Heritage Center: Why not try to see some of the greatest sites in the world if you’re nearby? Here you can find a listing of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and how to visit each one.
- FestivalFinder: In many communities, local festivals are a great way to learn about the culture, meet new people and get a real feel for life abroad. Find out about them from this site.
- Google Maps: Make sure you don’t get lost no matter where you decide to live with this helpful mapping tool.
Documenting Your Stay
What would a semester abroad be without something to remember it by? These tools will help you organize and share pictures, writing and memories about your stay.
- WordPress: Get a free blog from WordPress to record your thoughts and post pictures for your family and to act as your own record of your travels.
- Twitter: Give little updates about what you’re doing each day through this microblogging tool.
- Picasa: This Google program allows you to upload, store and share all your photos.
- Flickr: While bigger accounts will cost you, this site is still a great way to share pictures with those back home and ensure they’re backed up just in case.
- WhirlPad: Check out this site to start your own travel themed blog.
- BlogAbroad: Join this blogging community to share your experiences overseas.
- myfamily.com: Set up a family site and you can share your photos and thoughts with your family privately.
- Scrapblog: With this site, you can create an only scrapbook of your experiences.
- Scribd: Want to write a lengthy report about what you’ve experienced while away? This site lets you do so and allows you to publish it online so all can see.
- Travelblog: Whether you’re traveling all over or just traveling to one place for an extended stay, this site offers a great blogging community.
Language Learning Tools
If you’re not already fluent, these tools will help you start learning the native tongue of your host country.
- BBC Languages: Check out this free site to learn a little bit of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek or a number of other languages.
- iLoveLanguages: Want to find great resources to help you learn another language? Pay this site visit.
- soZeity: This is a great resource for those who use Skype and also want to learn an other language.
- iTunesU: You’ll find a large number of language lessons available for free through this educational iTunes offering.
- OCW Finder: See if there are any open courseware offerings out there that can help you learn a language or about the culture of your host country with this tool.
- LiveMocha: Learn to speak the language before or during your stay with this tool that puts you in touch with native speakers.
- Language Learning Library: From French to Japanese, you’ll find a number of free resources on this site to help you learn the basics.
- FreeLanguage.org: This site is home to loads of free language learning resources.
Language Translation and Reference
Prevent any misunderstandings and make your stay a little easier with these great resources for translating and looking up any words you might not know.
- WordReference: Look up words in Spanish, French, German, Russian and Italian on this great reference site.
- Google Translate: Google offers this simple tool for translating phrases or webpages.
- BabelFish: Try out Yahoo’s version of translation on this site.
- WorldLingo: This basic translator should meet most of your translating needs.
- Translate2: This site offers a wide range of languages and translations to English with everything from Finnish to Hindi listed.
- Reverso: Check out Reverso to get quick and simple translation services for several major world languages.
- YourDictionary.com:Looking for a great online dictionary in a foreign language? This site can help with a comprehensive directory of dictionaries.
These helpful tools will help you manage your budget while you’re away, find funding, and keep your finances in order no matter where you’re at.
- Oanada: If you need to do some currency converting, check out this great online tool.
- Xe: No matter what you’re converting you’ll be able to do so here.
- Wesabe: With this tool you can keep track of your finances at home and try to stick to a budget in your host country.
- Mint: With services that make it easy to track your accounts, this tool will let you always make sure you have enough to get by.
- Study Abroad Loans: Visit this site to learn about where and how to get loans to pay for your studies.
- Study Abroad Funding: Check out this resource to learn more about where you can get the money for foreign study.
- NAFSA Financial Aid: There may be government programs out there that can help you get cut down your expenses while away. Check out this site to find out more.
- Fynanz: Through this site you can get private loans to help you fund your education.
- GreenNote: Tap your family and friends for small contributions to your study abroad fund with this site.
Social Networks and Online Communities
Visit these sites to chat with other students who have already or who are currently going through the experience of studying or traveling abroad.
- Facebook: If you don’t already have a Facebook account, it may be a good idea to get one. You’ll be able to easily keep in touch with friends at home and with friends in your host country once you return.
- MobiFriends: The main Mobissimo site offers great deals on travel, but the MobiFriends community lets you ensure you find the best things to do while you’re away.
- Diversity Abroad Forum: Here you can read questions and posts about everything from keeping in touch with family to staying safe while away.
- Study Abroad Forum: This site is a good resource for those who are studying in English-speaking countries.
- BootsnAll: This travel site is a great place to find information about low cost travel in just about anywhere in the world.
- International Student Forum: Learn more about other students’ experiences and share your own on this study abroad forum.
- Student.com: Check out this social network that offers communication between students of all kinds.
- TripSay: Find out more about your location and other places in your host country through this community.
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