Your guide to studying abroad

How to avoid common mistakes while abroad


Students make all kinds of mistakes when studying abroad – from falling for scams to bringing the wrong adapter for electronics. Follow Longhorn Life’s advice so you don’t end up being that guy.

Get Currency before Leaving

Go to whomever you bank with to get some initial foreign currency before leaving. Never exchange at the airport where you arrive, as the exchange rate is always not in your favor. Those booths are designed to prey on travelers who forget to bring currency beforehand and can’t get to an ATM at the airport. To avoid ATM and transaction fees, check with your particular bank. Many have special deals with foreign banks. For example, Bank of America (BoA) has an agreement with Construction Bank of China that exempts BoA customers from ATM fees. 

Know the Scams

No matter where you go, there will be scams. Cab drivers can give you the run around or not run the meter, or a street vendor might charge you for an overpriced good because they can tell you are foreign. It happens everywhere, from Rome to New York to Beijing. Each country has scams that are sometimes unique to them, so know what to look out for in advance. For example, in Spain a common scam is for a cashier to pretend they are on the phone while serving you, when they are really taking a photo of your credit card number. In China, cab drivers will sometimes not run a meter and make up a ridiculous price once you reach your destination. 


Do not wait until you arrive to get an adapter for the electrical outlets in your respective country. You may want to be able to charge your phone or laptop immediately upon arriving, especially in the case of an emergency. On top of this, you might not know what a cheap, low quality brand looks like when you are shopping in a foreign country.

International Phone Plan

Whoever your provider is, they likely provide an affordable international plan. Get it. If you are in a situation where you have to get in contact with someone or desperately need help, it pays off. While many plans involve lower cost texts and calls, also try and get a certain amount of data. If you get lost in a major city, you can use your data in droves while navigating maps. Of course, there is also the social aspect as well, like posting photos to Facebook. One option is T-Molbile’s simple choice plan, which provides unlimited data and texting in more than 120 countries.

Short Term Programs

The University offers summer semesters abroad, as well as Maymesters, which tend to last four to five weeks. With these options, students can save thousands by not spending on a full semester abroad while still getting the study abroad experience. If you need to be around to take major-specific classes only offered during the fall or spring, this option might be right for you.