by Jon Sender | Back to Guide
When you’re away, other people become your greatest resources. They help you when you need a place to stay, a ride to the doctor, or even advice about a medical issue, like the one I dealt with.
Contacts you look for will center on three categories: family, friends, and professional.
Family is the easiest, because you know you either do or don’t have extended family in your host country. If you do, what are you waiting for? Reach out! If not, emphasize the friends category.
If you’ve been to your country before and have even a few contacts you were friendly with, look them up and reach out to them on Facebook. Otherwise, talk to neighbors, family and friends at home, people at your temple or church, and even professors who are well traveled to find at least a few people who can look out for you. You can even try talking to your advisor and ask if your university has any contacts where you’re going. At the very least, you might want to look for someone to pick you up from the airport and offer you a bed for a few days. But more so, having a person to turn to and a shoulder to lean on is a really comforting thing you’ll be grateful for, more than you’ve ever been.
Professional contacts, which are optional but encouraged, come in handy when you’re considering finding a job in your country post-graduation. I originally thought I might want to work in Israel before discovering it’s not the right country for me to live in. In any case, talk to your advisor, surf LinkedIn, send some résumés, and really just do some poking around. I had a professor who had traveled all over and was able to forward a cover letter to a contact from his LinkedIn. It got me an interview at least! You could snag one, too.
Stay in touch with your contacts as you approach your trip, plan on meeting them after you arrive, and use them to your advantage without actually taking advantage. Don’t take them for granted, as they just may be the people who pull you up after you’ve fallen hard.
For help keeping track of contacts, use the “Contacts” tab in the Study Abroad Master Plan Template.
End of Part 2, tasks to complete in the months before your trip