Resource Series 4: Tips for Financing Study Abroad

It’s the constant question among students and parents that are interested in learning about study abroad—“How will I pay for it?”

If money is tight, studying abroad may seem like the last possible option. Hopefully, the resources given here will show you that studying abroad can be an option for anyone, including students with financial concerns.

  • First off, check out all of the scholarships listed on our website! We have scholarships through our office, national scholarships we recommend to students, and tons of information about using financial aid and loans to study abroad!
  • When choosing a program, have an honest conversation with your family (or anyone who may help finance your education) about what is feasible for you in terms of cost.
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators recently published this list of resources or students interested in working, volunteering, or interning abroad. 
  • Check out what specific options your program offers. Some programs and institutions even offer their own scholarships and aid!
  • There are countless articles and posts about how to fund your experience abroad, including this one from the organization Go Abroad.
  • Check the government’s website for financial aid and loans.


Aside from finding additional ways to cover the cost of your program, if you’re worried about money, choose a program that’s cost effective! Go Overseas posted a blog about which providers (or “non-TU programs” on our database) provide cheaper programs for students.

Look into whether or not your program has different payment options. The school I attended abroad had different options for paying for housing—you could pay it all up front, or set up a monthly or bi-monthly plan. Breaking the costs up may make it more manageable to pay for, so check if your program has different payment plans available.

Lastly, we have a previous blog post with personal tips to help students save money and budget in order to study abroad!

We never want students to feel like they can’t study abroad because they can’t afford it. If there is anything we can do for you, we will try to help! Give us a call at (410) 704-2451, or contact us via email at

Resource Series 3: Safety Abroad!

The next installment in our Resource Series is one that hopefully everyone will read and relate to: tips on safety! No matter where you are in the world, it is important to know what to do to stay safe, and what resources to access in the case of an emergency.

Keep your money and important belongings in a safe place

Don’t carry important items like your passport with you wherever you go, and try not to carry much cash. If you need to carry valuable items with you for some reason, buy a lock or small safe for your bag to keep them safely inside! Otherwise, leave valuables locked up in a safe space in your room.

Don’t look lost

Even though you might be aimlessly wandering a foreign city, try to look like you know where you’re going. If you are lost, find a public place, like a restaurant or shop, where you can ask for directions.

Don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself

Different cultures can be more quiet and subdued, so don’t be the loudest or craziest person around. Pay attention to what locals are doing, and act the same way. This way, you won’t receive any unwanted attention from potentially dangerous people or situations.

  • Similarly, follow the laws of your host country! Many countries have strict laws, so be sure to abide by them to stay out of trouble.

Check out the U.S. Department of State website!

They have a lot of information on what to do during any unsafe situation, ranging from small problems, like if your personal belongings are stolen, to major emergencies, like if you need to evacuate a city.

Know where the nearest U.S. embassy is

In case of an emergency, you should go to the U.S. embassy closest to you.

For additional information, check out our Pre-Departure Orientation Manuals for faculty-led programs and for all other programs.

If you have any questions on how to handle a specific situation, you can always ask our office by calling (410) 704-2451, or emailing

Tips to Make Packing Easier

It’s that time in your planning process that you need to pack. How do you fit everything in a suitcase or two? What can you carry on? And what should you bring? As someone who always packs too much wherever they go, packing for such a long time away can be daunting. Here’s a few dos and don’ts, tricks and tips, and ways to make the nightmare of packing ease on by.

What do I need?

The truthful answer to this would be: ‘Not your entire closet.’

  • Find out if your housing will have laundry services (they often do) and how much they cost. From there, try and estimate how often you want to have to be doing laundry and plan from there what the minimal about of clothing items you’d need would be. I typically go at least three items over what my minimal would be just in case.
  • Check the local weather for when you’ll be going abroad. is my go to for all things weather. No need for shorts when London was 30-55°F the entire time I was abroad. If the weather calls for a winter coat, wear your heaviest onto the plane and pack any lighter jackets. Or layer and save even more space! You can always take them off in the airport after security.
  • Have at least one formal outfit. You never know if your host family will invite you to a wedding or if you will attend an evening reception of some kind.
  • Always remember comfortable walking shoes. Most study abroad destinations will have you walking, climbing, and exploring all around the country. For long days on your feet, you want to have shoes that will remain comfortable for the entire duration of your outing (I’d suggest two pairs in case something malfunctions on one of them).
  • So what about toiletries? I always pack travel-sized ones to start off with. Any additional shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. will almost always be found wherever you are. Ladies should consider any feminine products they’ll need abroad. And, as crazy as it may seem, I packed one thin roll of toilet paper in my suitcase just in case where we were staying didn’t have one on the roll when we got there. (For the record, there was one, but there was very little left on the roll).
  • Towels, sheets, and linens are a case by case kind of thing. Many places may provide them, but some may not. You should confirm this before you leave to study abroad. You can certainly buy them when you land, or you can always pack an old set that can be thrown away before returning home if you don’t want to have to lug them back with you.
  • Don’t forget adapters. Foreign outlet adapters will be your best friend. There’s different ones for different regions that you should check to see which one you’ll need.

Carry-On Luggage

One of the biggest things to have to figure out is: can this be carried onto the plane with me? The best thing to do would be to check your airline’s rules and regulations regarding carry-on items. Don’t forget to check size limitations on bags!

There’s a few general rules that almost always apply though:

  • Any travel documents you need should ALWAYS stay on your person (Passport, Boarding Pass, Visa(s), Insurance Card, etc.).
  • No weapons or anything flammable of any kind (this one will always apply).
  • Any kind of liquid (lotions, shampoos, makeup etc.) usually have to be 3.4 ounce (100ml) OR smaller.
  • Electronics are safest when they’re traveling with you and not getting thrown around in your checked luggage.

Here are a few extra tips to make packing your carry-on easier:

  • Do you have any medications that you must take?  Pack them in your carry-on in the original containers (Border Officials don’t take kindly to little bags of pills!) in case of your luggage gets lost. Bring copies of your prescriptions with you. Be sure to have the name of the generic drugs .
  • Putting your shoes in your carry on can help make your checked luggage lighter.
  • I was required to bring and keep a journal during my program, but having a place to write down things you want to remember and your experiences will help you tell all your friends and family the things you got to do.
  • For a Minimester program I took about $200-$300 in cash with me as an emergency supply that I kept hidden in my room.

We suggest you take a look at this site in addition to you airline’s site!

Checked Luggage

So anything that can’t go in my carry-on can go in my checked luggage? Not quite. We suggest you check with and your airline’s website once again for anything that can go into your checked luggage. But fear not. This bag’s a little easier when it comes to what’s allowed in it:

  • Underwear. Socks. Makeup.
  • Liquids in this bag can be any size, but I’d still suggest travel-sized items as they weigh significantly less.

Don’t forget to check the weight limits!

Anything Else?

A few more miscellaneous tips:

  • Always be culturally aware of what clothing could be considered appropriate and inappropriate where you’re going.
  • School supplies are easy enough to purchase after you’ve landed, however, if there’s a certain item you must have, they don’t take up too much space if you want to bring it with you.
  • Hairdryers, straighteners, and curling irons often blow fuses (this happened where I was staying multiple times in our apartment). It would be cheaper and easier to buy one for your dorm room/apartment/etc. If you have roommates, buy one for all of you and split the costs! Or go without!

Know what kind of tourist you are.

  • Will you be relying on your phone? Phones are great for navigating around an unknown city. Don’t forget a portable charger!
  • Do you like taking pictures? Will a phone suffice or do you want to bring a professional camera with you? Don’t forget an extra battery, memory card, and chargers!

A Few Pre-Made Packing Lists

When in doubt, make a list of everything that you’ll be needing to pack with you and cross the items off as you pack them. Don’t stress and start packing enough time in advanced so you’re not rushing at the end.

If you have any questions, you can contact our office at (410) 704-2451, or email and We are located in the Psychology Building, Room 408, open Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-5 pm.

Resource Series 2: Resources for Students of Color Abroad

Whatever the specifics are for your case when preparing to study abroad, we want to be able to help you! The following list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope you find the resources useful.

  • Diversity Abroad has great resources for diverse students. Check out their tips for students of color abroad.
  • Transitions Abroad is a website that students submit their own stories and experiences to. The link will take you to an article specifically for African American students studying abroad, but the website may have helpful tips for other students of color, as well.
  • The PLATO Project says their list of resources is “useful in promoting study abroad participation among underrepresented students, addressing some of the issues and challenges ethnicity may play in their study abroad experience, and linking them to additional information, resources, and scholarships.”
    • They also work with this organization that supports all students that want to study abroad.
  • Diversity Issues in Study Abroad” by Brown University – This booklet is comprised of quotes from diverse students from Brown University after studying abroad. It may give students of all backgrounds some insight into what it is like being a diverse American student abroad.
  • Apply for the TU Institutional Diversity Study Abroad Scholarship.
  • This blog post written by one of our former Peer Advisors, Brianna James!

If you are a student that has studied abroad and has any advice for us to include, don’t hesitate to contact us at (410) 704-2451, or by email at We are always looking for guest bloggers to feature on our site.

Recommended Apps to Use Abroad

Phones have become increasingly important in today’s society, and not just in America. While you’re abroad, it could be very helpful to know which apps to use for various reasons. To help sort through them, we’ve compiled a useful list, divided into categories!

To connect with friends, both back home and in your new city:

  • WhatsApp
  • Viber
  • Facebook Messenger – Almost everyone has Facebook! As long as you have Wi-Fi wherever you are (or a data plan), you can keep in touch with people back home, AND connect with your new friends abroad.
  • Snapchat – Snapchat is also a great way to keep up with what your friends at home are doing. Just be careful not to use it too much–it may increase the chances of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

To help with planning your trip and keeping track of your itinerary:

  • HostelWorld
  • Airbnb
  • The app to whatever airline you’re using – I flew British Airways when I went to England, and having their app was so convenient! Instead of worrying about having a paper boarding pass to keep track of, I just needed my phone. You can also keep up with flight delays and cancellations this way.
  • TripIt – This app syncs with your email, so every ticket you purchase and event you sign up for saves to the app to create a personalized itinerary.

To get around once you’re in your host city:

  • AroundMe – This app generates a list of companies/events/buildings that are in the area.
  • – Navigate through the area without the use of WiFi. You just have to download the area you are in before you go offline.
  • Citymapper – This will give you information about public transportation in the city you are in. It will give you directions to stops, your destination, and how long the wait time will be.
  • Any public transportation apps near you – Some taxi companies have apps that allow you to request a taxi right on the app, and then notifies you when it arrives! Airports and bus/train stations may also have apps you can download.
  • Uber – Most major cities abroad have Uber, but check to make sure yours does before relying on this.

To keep up-to-date with safety and wellness information:

  • OSAC – This is the official app for the U.S. Department of State.
  • TravWell – Here you can keep track of any vaccinations you need, any risks around you, etc.
  • Can I Eat This? – The title is self-explanatory: this app lets you know if certain foods in your host country may make you sick.

To make traveling around outside of your host country easier:

  • Currency Converter
  • My TSA – You can see how long lines are, whether flights are delayed, and more with this helpful travel app!
  • Border Wait Time
  • Mobile Passport App – This one only works when you’re entering the U.S. again, but it’s still worth it to skip the lines!

Other helpful things to download:

  • Offline games to play when you’re waiting in places without wifi
  • WiFi Finder

Resource Series 1: Tips for Handling Mental Illness Abroad

Thoughts from Lyndsi Jones, Peer Advisor

Who out there struggles with some kind of mental health condition? Have you thought about studying abroad? Are you worried that studying abroad would be too stressful, or too hard to manage along with your illness?

What many students don’t realize is that over 20% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 are struggling with a mental illness of some kind, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. You are not alone, and there are resources out there for you, too—whether you’re in America, or your dream country.

Personally, I was very nervous about studying abroad for five months. I have a long history with depression and anxiety, and even though I spent most of my life learning how to deal with those things, it was daunting to think about being away from my comfort zone. I wouldn’t be able to call my mom in the middle of the night, schedule an appointment with my therapist, or drive home for the weekend if I was overwhelmed by work. Studying abroad meant depending on myself, and trusting that I knew enough about my own mental health and self-care.

There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself, in all stages of your study abroad experience.

  • Research which countries have the best mental health services. You may have to compromise on location if it means better resources for your specific concerns. A few places to start are below.
  • If you take medication, know how much you can bring with you before going, and plan for that. You don’t want to get abroad and realize you’re going to run out of your medication during your stay, with no plan to get a refill. Likewise, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to request your medication and realize you can’t take enough with you.
    • Side-note: Some medications that are legal here may be illegal in other countries. If that’s the case for you, talk to your doctor about what a suitable alternative may be.
  • Be honest with the Study Abroad Office on your medical self-evaluation. I know you may feel uncomfortable sharing the details of your mental illness, but it’s important for your study abroad advisor to know. The information you provide is kept confidential. Part of their job is to help prepare you to go abroad, but they can only help you with things they know about.
  • Don’t overload yourself at your school or program abroad. The amount of classes you can handle at Towson may not be the same amount you can handle abroad. While you’re abroad, you will be dealing with your mental health as well as experiencing culture shock, so leave room for yourself to adjust to that (you can always take on more classes/clubs/extracurriculars later, if you feel you can).
    • Side-note: If you’re abroad for a semester, you will need to maintain full-time status (12 U.S. credits).
  • Once at your school or program, explore the specific mental health resources they offer. Be aware of your options, in case you have an emergency. I can only speak from my experience here, but the school I attended had a text-line that was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was like an on-campus job, in a way; students applied for the opportunity, trained, and had schedules to ensure that at least one person was available at every hour in case of a mental health emergency.
  • Confide in your friends! Chances are, someone in your circle at home knows your concerns about studying abroad with a mental illness. Plan a Skype date with them to talk about things if you need to. You may even make friends while you’re abroad that you feel you can confide in—I did, and one of them was feeling the same way I was.
    • Side-note: One of the main lessons I learned abroad is that there are people everywhere. I was so afraid of leaving my people. Breaking news: everywhere you go in the world, there will be people. They’re probably nice people. Will they be different than you? Maybe. But don’t close yourself off or miss out on an opportunity because you’re afraid you’ll be alone. You won’t be alone.
  • Leave some time for a little extra self-care when you come home. I know, I know—everyone warns you that coming home is the hardest part. What you might not be prepared for, though, is it being true. I hadn’t gone to therapy regularly in three years, but when I came home, I almost immediately needed to start going every week. Be mindful of the fact that you may need even more time to adjust back home than you did when you went abroad.


Studying abroad is such a valuable experience. No matter who you are, where you go, or how long you go for, you will come home a little different (hopefully, a little better). Don’t let fear of your mental illness keep you state-side.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office at (410) 704-2451, or email and We are located in PY 408, open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

You should also go to Towson’s Counseling Center with concerns about your mental health abroad. They can be reached at (410) 704-2512, or They are located on the second floor of the Health & Counseling Center at Ward and West.

Simple Steps to Learn a Language Before You Leave

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is, “Do I need to speak a foreign language to study abroad?” Students are typically very relieved to find that the answer is no!

While knowing the native language of the country you’re studying in is helpful, it is not required. Many of our program options in non-English speaking countries have a variety of courses offered in English. Having said that, the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it!

If you are studying in a country where you don’t speak the language, you may want to brush up on local phrases before leaving the United States, so you don’t feel completely out of place when you arrive in your host country.  Some suggestions to get you started learning are:

  • Duolingo. I have so many friends who swear by this fun, interactive app when learning new languages!
  • Focus on the most important phrases. Chances are, you will have to ask where the bathroom is, and you will have to say thank you. Starting with the basics is less intimidating than trying to grasp full conversation pieces. Plus, it’s the polite thing to do!
  • Take a class. If you have time in your schedule and plan in advance, you can try to take a class in the language at Towson before you leave!
    • Find a tutor. Similarly, if the language you’re learning is taught at Towson, there may even be a tutor just for that language on campus.
  • Talk with a native speaker. Ask if any of your friends know someone who speaks the language, and connect with them.
  • Immerse yourself in popular culture and media in the language you want to learn. Listen to music, watch movies, and (if you can) read short articles in the language to get acquainted with it! Even if you don’t know what you’re hearing or seeing at first, you will eventually pick up on words and themes, and become familiarized with the culture.
  • Make flashcards. I know—as students, we dread making more flashcards than necessary, but they’re a great way to memorize different words and phrases!
  • Practice every day! The most important part of language-learning is memory. If you practice the phrases you want to learn and expand on it often, the phrases will become drilled in your memory before you go!

It is also important to note that studying abroad in an English-speaking country is still studying abroad. You will get a valuable cultural experience no matter where you go, because foreign English-speakers still have many different views and cultures that we don’t in our little corner of the world.

Other English-speaking countries also have different slang words and phrases for things, so it’ll feel like you’re learning a new language either way. In England, it took me weeks to figure out what the common words “ta,” “quid,” or “hob” were, or that when someone said they were “pissed,” they did not mean they were mad about something (in fact, they meant something very different!).

No matter where you go abroad, you will experience a different culture, and that’s what’s important! Don’t worry too much about the language barrier, but prepare before you go so you don’t feel totally lost.

As always, if you have any questions, you can visit our office in the Psychology Building, rm. 408. We are also available by phone at (410) 704-2451, and email at

Czech it Out! Why You Should Study in Prague

We are thrilled to announce our new TU Exchange Program in the Czech Republic!


What is an exchange program, you ask?

At Towson University, an exchange program is a study abroad program at one of our partner universities abroad. They send us students and we send them students. These programs are offered in the spring and fall semesters, as well as for the academic year. Because of this exchange relationship, you pay the same tuition and fees as you would for a semester or year at Towson! We currently offer exchange programs in Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Prague Lennon Wall

Why study abroad in Prague?

Here are the top 5 reasons, as told by GoAbroad:

  1. Prague is very affordable.
  2. Prague has the best beer in the world, and possibly the cheapest.
  3. Prague is in the heart of Europe.
  4. You will fall in love with Prague.
  5. Prague’s public transportation system is simply the best.


Still not convinced?

TU Alumna Annina Hazel studied abroad on the faculty-led program “Geography in the Heart of Europe” in Prague during the summer of 2015.

Not only did she enjoy her program, she highlighted her top 3 things that any student studying abroad in the Czech Republic must do!

  1. Participate in a home-stay (if possible)
  2. Don’t skip out on cultural trips to museums, concerts, and galleries
  3. Enjoy Czech night life!

If we’ve peaked your interest, you can check out the program page on Horizons by clicking HERE, or you can stop by the office for more information!

Advice for Veterans Studying Abroad

Veterans represent a growing population on college campuses, and that means more students that should study abroad! Plus, if you receive G.I. Bill educational funding,  you could be traveling for little to nothing! Check out thoughts from Chris Powell, the Study Abroad Office Veteran Liaison, on studying abroad as a Veteran.

Thoughts from Chris Powell, Study Abroad Veteran Liaison

Sure, many veterans have been abroad, but have you been abroad without the uniform? Now is your chance. Veterans have been identified as an underrepresented community for study abroad! What does that mean for you? Well, for those of you utilizing the G.I. Bill, you can study abroad and learn valuable skills and experiences for a fraction of the normal cost by using your benefits. Veterans who study abroad are still eligible for their housing allowance. I studied abroad in India and was able to live very comfortably because of continued housing allowance while abroad. Studying Abroad is an amazing opportunity that you shouldn’t let pass you by. Doing so will allow you to expand your network and add some very valuable skills to your resume, such as language training, or even showing an employer that you have been abroad and are culturally competent and globally savvy in foreign environments. These are important skills that are sought after in the civilian sector of employment, where international work is continuously growing.

Studying abroad also grants us the opportunity to get rid of the stigma about veterans overseas. For those of us who have been abroad or lived abroad with the military, we have all heard the same old saying about the U.S. military overseas, and most of the time it involves negative opinions. Well now is our chance to get rid of the stigma and become proud ambassadors for our country and to show other countries that we are a valuable asset to work with. Not only will your study abroad experience grant you credits towards graduation but also help fulfill requirements for your major and or minor, including elective credits or Core credits, but also gives you the opportunity to build your resume, forge new friendships that will last a lifetime, and gain new and interesting experiences by learning other languages, cultures and customs that could change you in ways you never thought possible. Studying in a different country allows you to live life and learn through a new positive perspective. And as we know, what we encountered during our time in the military, most of us have lived through very rough and stressful situations. Studying abroad can be stressful going to a new country where you don’t know the language or customs, but often this may be easier for us since we’ve had to do this before, but in war zones, where stress levels can be through the roof. Being resilient and adaptable really make studying abroad perfect for veterans. Please consider studying abroad during your time at Towson University, as studying abroad forever changed my life for the better, and it can change yours too, if you take the leap.

Interested? Attend a Study Abroad Information Session (M-F at 2pm, PY 408, drop-ins welcome). Or, contact the Study Abroad Office for more information!

“I, Too, Am Study Abroad” Spring 2017 Discussion Series

The Study Abroad Office and the Center for Student Diversity have partnered to provide programming specifically suited to students that are not traditionally represented in study abroad. Please join us at the following events so we can show you how truly accessible study abroad is for everyone!

Discussion Series Schedule of Events: 


February 22nd, 12-2pm 

Center for Student Diversity, UU313

Funding Your Experience Abroad

Want to go abroad, but unsure about finances? Hear directly from scholarship recipients and get scholarship writing tips from the Writing Center. Using Financial Aid? A representative from the Financial Aid Office will be there too! Lunch will be provided.


March 2nd, 12-2pm

Center for Student Diversity, UU313

Representing the Underrepresented: Why Everyone Can Study Abroad

Think study abroad isn’t for you? Think again! Join your peers in a discussion about how study abroad can be a part of your TU experience! Lunch will be provided.


March 28th, 12-2pm

Center for Student Diversity, UU313

Queers and Allies Abroad

Curious about the experience of the LGBTQ+ students abroad? Want to know more about resources and opportunities available to support LGBTQ+ students during their time abroad? Come chat with our student panel and check out the different resources the Study Abroad Office has to offer queers and allies abroad! Lunch will be provided.


Questions? Email