Pre-Departure

This page has information about what other K students could expect from the K application process and more specific details of the pre-departure stages of my trip including

Intro to the K Study Abroad Process

Buzz goes abroad!

The following information is most intended for first years or sophomores wanting to learn more about studying abroad. The CIP at K is the best resource for this, so I recommend going to their events and stopping by their office to learn about the study abroad and away programs at K and to ask questions about programs and specific deadlines. This information is to explain what you might expect- I’m hoping to relieve some worries and answer some questions that students may have about study abroad when they don’t know where to start. My experiences are limited to applying for a long-term program at K, but the processes are similar for programs of other lengths.

Deciding on a Destination: K has a lot of locations for their study abroad and away programs – that’s one aspect that’s really cool about it! However, it can also be a little tricky choosing a country to apply for because there are so many good choices. The first step is learning about the programs. A study abroad program occurs in another country, and study away programs occur within the US. To learn about all the programs, you can look at this list online, and you should definitely go to the study abroad fair that the CIP puts on in the fall. Here, there will be tables set up and you can learn about which ever study abroad and away programs you’re interested in from people who went there! There also tends to be snacks! Some important things to find out about the programs include the length of the program and when it takes place in the year, if there are any language requirements or prerequisites, and the main subjects of the program. These are important to keep in mind when you plan your classes – the CIP and your academic adviser can help you with your schedule so you take classes you need before study abroad. Eventually, you’ll probably have a short list of the programs you’re most interested in. When you’re deciding between a few programs, I’d recommend learning more about your programs of interest and hearing from past students who went there to help you decide. There’s no pressure to decide where you should study abroad right away. Some people know where they want to go upon starting at K, and others don’t decide until sophomore year. For me, I had two long-term programs I wanted to go on; my decision was between Ecuador and Thailand. I learned a lot about both programs and heard from students who went there. While I loved the idea of improving my Spanish in Ecuador, eventually I decided to apply for the Thailand program because of the course material. Everyone has different interests and goals for their experience. I’m not sure that there is a wrong decision to make- someone from the CIP can talk you through the programs you’re interested in to help you choose. I didn’t end up deciding to apply to the Thailand program until the beginning of winter break my sophomore year – as long as you stay informed about the deadlines, you should be fine!

The Application Process: Once you decide where you’d like to apply, you can start working on your application (once it opens). You can find this information on the CIP Hornet Passport or by asking someone from the CIP. The Chiang Mai program is a long term program which means it takes place during the fall and winter quarters of your junior year. Long term program applications tend to open sometime in the fall quarter and the deadline is towards the beginning of winter quarter. This can vary per year so be sure to learn about your specific deadlines. The Hornet Passport is a site used for study abroad and away – you can search through different programs, and this is also where you can find the application and pre-departure information. The application, though it may vary per year, will ask for some of your general information and it will also have some essay-like questions. The essays are an important part of your application– they generally ask you to explain why you want to study abroad and provide information about yourself for additional context. Below you can find some tips I have for the K application.

Tips for the K Application:

  • Start your application early so you don’t feel rushed and you have enough time to make it strong
  • Think and brainstorm lots of ideas for your essays and then chose the most important and effective ideas. You’ll have some sort of word limit so make your words count!
  • Go over the word count and then revise – with your revisions, try not to generalize or be vague
  • Name drop some specific locations or parts of the program to show you’ve done some research and know what you’re getting yourself into
  • Utilize the writing center and the CIP workshops to get feedback on your work!
  • Once you’ve submitted your application, try not to worry and overthink about what you submitted. Remember, the CIP wants students to study abroad! An incorrect punctuation or awkward sentence won’t cause you to not be accepted
  • Some of the programs are more competitive than others. Take your application seriously, even if you’re not applying for a competitive program. Also, don’t let the fact that a program is competitive keep your from applying there

Pre-Departure: You’ll hear back from the CIP about your application sometime after you submitted it. It varies per program and year, but for my case it was a little over a month. If you’re accepted, you’ll get a lot more information from the CIP about how to proceed. You can find on the Hornet Passport more materials to submit and orientations you’ll need to attend. Some of the orientations include a Q&A orientation, health and safety, and mental health orientation. I recommend writing all the dates and deadlines into a planner and communicating with the CIP with any questions or concerns you may have! There are different advisers for different programs– your specific program adviser will be a good contact for you moving forward. Depending on the program, you might also have to submit more materials to be formally accepted to your host institution. Throughout the spring quarter, you will continue to learn more about your program and might receive additional materials during the summer. Before you know it, you’ll be studying abroad!

About My Pre-Departure

I don’t think it’s possible to arrive completely prepared for study abroad. That being said, I tried to learn about Thailand and Thai culture over the summer so I wouldn’t feel quite so unprepared. I decided not to try to teach myself Thai because I didn’t want to learn it incorrectly, making it more difficult for myself in future Thai classes. So while, I didn’t arrive knowing Thai, I tried to come into the program with some knowledge to build on. Below is a list describing my preparations. 

Preparing for Life in Thailand:

  • I read the book a “A Geek in Thailand” by Jody Houton. “A Geek in Thailand” was written to inform foreigners about Thailand — it provided a lot of information and context about the country including it’s history, politics, religion, music/media, culture, and more. The scope of the book was huge and I learned a lot from it!
  • I listened to Thai music pretty frequently over the summer. I didn’t pick up any specific words or phrases, but I have an improved understanding of what Thai sounds like than before. Here are some links to the playlists on Spotify that I listened to the most: Thai pop and rock songs, Disney songs in Thai, shorter playlist of my favorite songs.
  • I watched a few Thai movies (with English subtitles). I enjoyed them! A simple search of something like “Thai movies” or “Thai TV” in Netflix gave me a lot of results. I never found the time to watch TV shows, but I hope to sometime! My favorite movies were “Yes or No” and “One Day” on Netflix.
  • I tried to stay updated on Thai news. I read a few stories from this website every few weeks that has Thai news in English (I read stories from the main page and Chiang Mai).
  • I researched places and activities to do in Chiang Mai so I’ll have some ideas for when I’m not in class. I lade a list that includes visiting temples, markets, and parks. I might share/reflect on this list later in the program. 
My luggage and carry on for the trip!

Packing: I’ve heard that you should aim to under pack for study abroad because most people over pack. I’m not sure that I avoided over-packing, but I feel as though I have a reasonable amount of things for a 6 month trip. I ended up bringing one larger roller suitcase that weighed approximately 50lbs and a very full backpack as a carry on. After I have been on the program for awhile, I will look back on all that I brought and update this section with items I bought but didn’t need to, and items I didn’t pack but would have liked to have, and items I brought that were great to have!

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