There are numerous things I wish I had known before studying abroad. I hope I can pass on what I learned to help prepare future students.
I wish I had a better understanding of what to wear and when to wear it. I thought I had to dress very conservative all the time. Turns out, it is okay to wear less conservative clothes during leisure time. I would also suggest giving yourself enough time to pack. This way, if you are questioning a piece of clothing, you have time to address your concerns with your professor. Also, listen to your professors when they tell you to pack light. You do not need a different outfit for each day. I would suggest bringing pieces of clothing that can be mixed and matched. Plus, there is a great possibility you will buy clothing with abroad. Also, even though the weather is generally warm in Thailand, it gets cool at night and in the mountains. Be prepared; bring a light jacket, pants, and other warm clothing.
As I stated previously, packing light is important. Bring items which can be tossed once used up. It is possible to purchase certain items while abroad, so only pack what you need. If you run out of something, such as a drug store item, or realize you forgot a jacket, you can always buy one.
Communication is key. If you are ever uncomfortable with something or unsure, ask. Don’t be afraid to approach your professor with concerns you have about the trip or something you are doing while on the trip. You have the right for your voice to be heard. You should feel comfortable approaching your professor, classmates on the trip, and tour guides. Also, don’t let verbal communication be a barrier between you and the natives. Be creative in how you communicate.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. This is a once in a life time opportunity, embrace it. Try not to let money hold you back. If you want to try something but think it may be too expensive, just go for it. I mean, you may only get to ride elephants in Thailand once in your life.