There are plenty of things to know while preparing for a study abroad. From packing, to everyday activities while abroad, it is very important to know what you’re getting yourself into. For the Costa Rica Avian Biology Maymester program, in particular, I found that there are a few things that I wish I knew before going on the trip.

Packing, essentially the most important part of preparing for a trip, must be done in a strategic way. It is highly important that overpacking does not occur, or else you’ll find yourself lugging a heavy suitcase around from time to time. I found that planning what I was going to wear each day, prior to the trip, helped with saving space. For someone who really struggles with packing light, I also invested in some vacuum-sealed storage bags that were incredibly useful. Not only did the reusable bags help with space, but they also protected my clothes from the never-ending rain of Costa Rica’s tropical rainforests!

Aside from packing, another crucial step before taking a semester abroad is doing some research! The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences has plenty of trips to choose from, so finding one that you would enjoy shouldn’t be difficult. It is really important though to know what you’ll be getting into by looking into the trip itinerary. For the trip that I went on specifically, intensive hikes were a daily occurrence. Since I wasn’t aware of this, I now know that preparing accordingly by researching a trip is essential. 

One last thing that I cannot stress enough about studying abroad is applying for scholarships. As a student in CAES, I initially thought that a study abroad trip wouldn’t be possible for me due to funding. Despite this, CAES provided me with multiple resources to get me the funding I needed. Because of the scholarships I received, I was able to be a part of the trip of a lifetime!