Overseas Language Immersion: The Fine Details

Moving abroad can be some tricky business; once you've decided whether you want to work, study or volunteer, you need to tackle the biggest task of them all: the red tape.

First and foremost, you'll need to check out whether you need a visa. A good place to start is here, though it's always highly recommend to check with your chosen country's embassy, too. If you're stopping over in certain countries, make sure you know the score about visa waivers etc.  Speaking from experience, I can tell you that at least 3 of my friends had problems when they travelled to South America, via the States (with non-digital passports). You have been warned!

Another thing you'll have to get sorted will be your health check. Some work abroad requires you to go get a check-up before you go, but really, to keep any worries at bay, everyone should get them done, regardless of what they want to do abroad.  Some insurers also won't cover you if they find out that you had an illness before you went out - so it's worth taking pretty seriously. Insurance and medicals are a bore, but you wouldn't want to foot a sky-high medical bill, just because you didn't get round to getting the a-ok from the doc. Loads of sites offer information about what medicine/vaccinations are needed for which country. I tend to use either MASTA, a site that can both tell you which and supply you with vaccinations, or the BBC's site, as I'm slightly nationalistic :P. Now, I've mentioned insurance; I've met some travellers who were really anal about who to go with, what cover they had, which policy to pick etc, and then I met some who didn't give a hoo-hah. Straight up. Personally, I find the idea of galivanting halfway across the world without any insurance slightly scary. I'm not a usual worrier, but, if I'm white-water rafting in the Andes and something were to happen to me, I'd be pretty peeved to find myself struggling to understand both the language and the procedure in a foreign hospital. That may be just me, though. Insurance isn't the most exciting bit of your trip (though it might be for some people - whatever floats your boat...), but, to me, its importance is on par with needing my passport.

Booking your flight might seem like an easy affair - and with websites like Kayak, it's as easy as pie. This is THE place to go if you're looking to snatch a cheaper than chips deal. I came across a flight to New York, return, from Mexico City for the bargainous price of $100. Yep. $100. That's pretty good, and I'm not known to be a penny pincher. STA is also a good place to look as it's aimed at student budgets, but you don't necessarily have to be a student to make the most of their deals. Both these sites also offer you the possibility to book a multi-city trip, as opposed to going ahead and booking with individual carriers.

Depending on how long you decide to go out for, or how light (or heavy) a traveller you are, have a look at your luggage restrictions with your airline. Some allow up to 60 kilos, for long-haul flights, when split into two bags. Weigh them before hand - turning up slightly hungover at the airport, having an air hostess try and charge you $200 for your extra baggage and wondering what on earth you're going to do is never a good idea (note to self: don't have your going away party the night before).  If you know you're heading out with too much gear, check out companies like Voovit, and if you click on the link, you could even get a 5% discount.

Accommodation is always going to be a worry - if you're looking to get into a hostel, guidebooks like the Lonely Planet are your best bet - cheap and cheerful, with a good atmosphere to boot. If you're looking for something a little more long-stay, here's a decent list of sites that offer up studio and shared apartments.

So, with all these tips and advice, it should be all smooth sailing! See you on the other side, amigo 🙂


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  • Very good resources.
    Visa can be very tricky. Once I had to fly to Malaysia from the U.S. twice within a week. It wasn't ideal, but I had a meeting in the U.S. between the two trips. They gave me such a hard time even though my visa was ok to figure out why I needed to be in and out.

  • It seems like getting a Visa is much tougher than it could be... Thanks for the 'inside' look at getting one, and especially thanks for the links - I'll be sure to check them out. =)

  • Well, with regard to South American visa problems, if all 3 of your friends went to Brazil, the reason for that is that Brazil requires a visa for U.S. citizens to enter the country, which Americans aren't used to dealing with and so they'll just think that they can fly on down there and enter the country on their passport.The reason that Brazil does this is because they practice reciprocity when it comes to entry requirements: that is, whatever another country requires of Brazilians to enter their country, Brazil will require of the citizens of that country to enter Brazil. Brazil requires a visa for Americans but not for most Europeans because the U.S. requires Brazilians to have a visa to enter the U.S. whereas the E.U. does not. Personally, I don't blame them (the Brazilians, that is).Cheers,
    Andrew

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