If you’re thinking about going abroad, I sincerely hope you do. It’s the best time of your life. However, when you move, on your own, to an entirely different country, there are a few things you are going to have to think about:
- How you’re going to pay for things. Are you going to get a job? If so, odds are that you are going to need a bank account in your new country. This means a new debit card and potentially a new credit card. The thing that really got me though was trying to figure out how the tax laws here work. I’m still working on it but I’ll get back to you if ever figure it out. If you don’t get a bank account in your new country, you should know if your home bank partners with any banks there. This way, you can avoid higher transaction fees when you get cash from an atm. Make sure your credit card has a chip and tell your bank that you will be traveling. When I went abroad my first time, I paid for most things with cash. I minimized my transaction fees by taking out larger chunks of money less often. I never carried all my cash with me though, remember that.
- How you’re going to contact other humans. I had to go back into the stone age during my time in Australia. By the stone age, I mean that I am using a “burner phone” with numbers I actually have to dial, T9 texting, and a lack of data. It’s a step up from my first flip phone and it cost $20. It’s a good option for anyone who’s not living somewhere permanently. I still have my smartphone here with an international plan to call and text people back home. I can only use the internet over wifi since I have little to no data. A lot of people unlock their phones and use international sim cards but this was not an option for me.
- How you’re going to eat. I eat out probably once during the week and definitely a few times on the weekend. What can I say? Sydney has really good food and it calls out to the foodie in me. It has world famous milkshakes for crying out loud. I can’t stay away. However, during the majority of the week, I do cook my meals. This means planning out meals on Saturday and grocery shopping and meal prepping on Sunday. Yes, it’s a hassle, but it’s the best way to stick to a budget.
- How you’re going to get around. If you’re traveling to Europe, lucky you. You will have one of the best public transportation systems in the world. Australia’s public transit system has still got a lot on America though. I have a car back home which I was (obviously) unable to take with me. I use the train system the most and the buses on occasion. The best thing to do for public transit is to find out what most of the locals use. In London, they use an Oyster Card. In Sydney, they use an Opal Card. The opal card is a refillable card I use to get on and off the trains and buses. It’s cheaper and faster than buying a train ticket each time. I have a cap on $7 dollars per day, so any ride after that is free and, since I’m an exchange student, I also get halfoff my fares with this card. It is definitely beneficial to think of the transport as soon as you get there because it will save you time and hassle. I didn’t figure it out until a couple weeks in and the first few weeks, it was very difficult to get around.
- How you’re going to travel. This is different than how you’re going to get around. By how you’re going to travel, I mean the extra trips that everyone tries to take on weekends. Figure out when the cheapest flights are, when you have free weekends, where you’re going to stay, and what kinds of things you want to do. The further in advance you plan it, the less risk you have of getting somewhere with no place to stay, the more money you’ll save on flights, and the less chance you have of missing out on something that you want to do. I’ve planned a few last minute things, but it’s always nice to have a set plan in advance.