6 Weeks Until My Exchange. I’m Not Ready! HELP!
If these are your thoughts right now. Don’t worry, we’re here to help and guide you. It’s a daunting time with exams and studying to think about. Yet you’re going overseas right after it!
Let’s start by going through a check list.
1. Visa and work permit
Check that you have the required visa as some visas can take 1-2 weeks to arrive, and you need to send your passport and wait at the visa office. You certainly don’t want to be stressing over this when you’re studying for exams. Some visas also require you to have an Invitation Letter so make sure your host AIESEC entity sends you all the relevant documents.
2. Flights booked and travel insurance paid for
It’s much cheaper to buy now than 1-2 weeks before you’re scheduled to fly. Make sure to buy during the week, as they sometimes release new seats - and these flights are usually cheaper. Go into “incognito” mode so they don’t realise you’re revisiting the site over again since websites are sneaky and sometimes increase the price the more you view them. Also check http://skyscanner.com.au/ for cheap flights.
Make sure you have travel insurance, because in the off chance you get sick or your baggage gets lost - you can claim it back.
3. Travel doctor and vaccinations
This is an absolute must, especially if you’re going to areas like southeast Asia or Africa. You’re more prone to various water, food or insect related diseases. Some vaccinations you may need include (NB: this is not a comprehensive list, please consult your travel doctor) - ideal timeline for vaccinations is at least 6 weeks before your exchange.
- Hepatitis A
- Malaria Tablets
5. Arrival/ accommodation sorted
Find out who’s picking you up, and where you’ll be living. Have the contact details of the local AIESECer’s ready in case you need airport WIFI to message/ call them. In the event they’re not at the airport, at least know where you’ll be living so you can get a taxi/ rickshaw/ uber there. (check the price beforehand). You don’t want to be stranded at the airport in a foreign country. Get your EP buddy to help you and sort out a Skype session to flesh out these details.
6. Exchange AUD for local currency
Have a small amount ready, or at least $200 USD because all countries take USD. Some countries don’t take AUD unfortunately. Whilst your debit/ credit/ travel card has money on it, some ATM’s might not take it, so it’s always good to carry extra cash with you in case this happens (it’s happened to a volunteer friend of mine in India).
7. Understand your job description and requirements
Know your rights as an EP, and check what tasks/ goals you need to achieve on a week to week basis. This will require a Skype call to take place to ensure you have relevant knowledge of what will happen. Ensure you will have an Incoming Preparation Seminar, where you’ll understand the country better, and be introduced to you new role.
Find out your working hours, which days you have off, how many hours you work per day, when you can travel/ sightsee/ have free time.
8. Do you have any additional costs when you arrive in the country?
Some countries require an extra fee that will be given to the host entity to help cover logistics - check with your host entity whether you will require one.
9. Start packing your bags
Check which items you’ll need, the weather, any gifts from Australia or food from Australia that can be brought into the country. See if you need to buy additional clothes - or pack light and buy some local clothes when you’re abroad. Factor in the project you’re doing and necessary gear you’ll need - e.g. teaching (books, teaching resources), bird watching (binoculars), sustainable cities (gloves, maps).
Need more help for preparation of your exchange? Check out this link: https://www.aiesecaustralia.org/myexchange/logistics