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Preparation Catch-up

January 14th, 2006

Since many of you may be wondering about what sort of preparation goes into planning to study abroad, I thought now might be a good time to give you a run-down on everything I’ve done for this trip so far.

First, I researched study abroad programs, then applied to the one I was interested in. Many people hedge their bets and apply to more than one program, but I knew that I met all the criteria and the application process is fairly time intensive, so I opted to bet all my chips on one hand.

After waiting forever to find out, I was finally accepted and even offered a small scholarship. Then came the real work.

First I went to my doctor to get a general check-up and get scripts for enough of my medications (allergies and asthma) to last for my entire trip. Then, I went to a travel clinic where I was administered various vaccinations (anti-typhoid, hepatitis A, and yellow fever for Panama) and given 2 different types of anti-malarial pills (one for Costa Rica, and a special one for if I decide to visit Eastern Panama). Click here for Tim’s advice on which vaccinations to get.

They also gave me a course of anti-diarrheal pills in case it takes me some time to adapt to the change in water (apparently this is a common problem for travelers to all distant locales). I was also advised to secure a letter from my doctor to give to the customs officials explaining why I have so many pills.

I arranged for medical insurance, which was fairly easy as my current company carried overseas insurance. I was unable to insure my laptop for overseas, however, which was recommended by the program coordinators.

Then came the money problem.. traveler’s checks, Costa Rican calones (CRC), U.S. dollars (USD), ATM card, or some combination? My fellow program participants and I have had much lively debate over this issue. Some people’s parents were worried that if they carried cash, they would be robbed blind and then left for dead. I think a few too many parents let their imaginations get a little carried away, but theft is a worry. My concern with traveler’s checks is that they come in USD, and from what I’ve read one gets better deals when using CRC. The problem with credit cards, of course, is that not everyone accepts them. Also, my credit card company charges an extra 3% on all transactions to cover their paperwork on the exchange.

I finally decided to take a relatively small amount of CRC, and split it up into multiple different pockets and bags. That way, if I do get pick pocketed (which is very possible, as I’m kind of a space case), at least they won’t take everything. The rest of my money is in a bank, and I will worry about transferring it when I arrive. We are discussing Costa Rican bank accounts and whatnot at orientation.

I also had to call all my banks and credit card companies to let them know I would be traveling to Costa Rica, so they wouldn’t decline my cards thinking I was a thief.

Of course, before I left school, I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork at my home institution. I will get credit of some kind, although I won’t really know for what until I return.

The last thing I had to do, which I wasn’t expecting, was request a background check on myself to give to immigration. Apparently, they just changed immigration requirements in Costa Rica, so this was a last minute rush thing.

I began packing last Thursday.

4 Responses to “Preparation Catch-up”

  1. cathy chitty on February 9, 2006 6:05 pm

    Aren’t you going to give Mom some credit for insurance, credit cards and supplying the CRC?

  2. Tim on February 13, 2006 4:38 pm


    Spoken like a true sister!

  3. C.Chitty on February 16, 2006 5:07 pm

    Ok, my mom did most of the money stuff. I was just telling them what needed to be done! P.S. Cathy is Mom!

  4. Casta Laetitia on April 20, 2007 5:07 pm

    Casta Laetitia

    I Googled for something completely different, but found your page…and have to say thanks. nice read.