This is the most crucial part of the whole process because it can make or break the experience.
The VERY FIRST thing you need to do is get your passport and/or Visa. Although my passport took less than a month to arrive, I know other people who still hadn’t received theirs a month before we were leaving.
For step-by-step instructions on what you need to do before you leave, go to the study abroad office. They gave me a time line of important deadlines, including when payments needed to be made. Also, they had information on scholarships, which I’m sure just about everyone looking to study abroad is interested in.
For my trip, I was advised to get an International Student Identity Card, which is available at the Student ID Center in the union. It is $22 and is meant to serve as your ID when you are abroad. Personally, I never had to use this card.
When it came to packing for the trip, it turned out to be somewhat of a disaster for me. I brought two suitcases because I wanted to be prepared for anything we would be doing. I ended up dragging two suitcases around with me when we traveled from hotel to hotel the last two weeks of the trip. I recommend you only bring essential clothing that can be worn repeatedly without having to be washed after each use. The worst part of the packing situation was that the airline changed its policies while I was in Spain. On the way there, I could have two suitcases but on the way back, I could only have one; I had to end up paying $75 for my second suitcase and almost missed my flight trying to handle the situation.
One thing I did on my own, and I recommend you do that same, was brush up on the background of the culture and it was as simple as typing things into Google. I did this so I could become familiar with stereotypes in Spain and other taboo topics so I could avoid being in sticky situations.