Let me tell you a little something about transitioning into being an international student.

It's. Not. Easy.

Shout out to all my friends (and their parents!) who came to the US at a young age and probably had to go through twice the trouble that I'm going through to get everything settled.

One of the underlying hassles that I've had to deal ever since decision-day is simply not understanding the system. As opposed to American schools which immediately start sending you mail the second you enter high school, there is very little correspondence between me (the student) and the school. I hardly received any "Welcome Information" or even an official printed acceptance letter. To be honest, I think there was a point where I thought, "Do they know I'm coming?"

In fact, I have not yet registered for the coming school year. While the majority of my friends know exactly what their schedule is for this year, I'm pretty much left in the dark until "4-6 weeks prior to the start of (my) programme."

Generally, most correspondence with UOE has been between the school and me (read: not my mom). Whether it's information about my student visa, financial aid, or accommodation, they pretty much refuse to talk to my parents. I'm an adult now (scary stuff).

The biggest headache of all, however, has been the process of obtaining a student visa. As with most big undertakings, I would encourage anyone going through the same process to start early. However, it's also imperative, for whatever reason, that you not begin the process until 3 months prior to starting at school.

After filling out endless online paperwork- nearly as long and dreadfully detailed as the Common App- I headed into the city to have my fingers scanned. And just when I thought I was done with that process, my mom discovered that I had to send in the application to New York City (along with my passport). Now I'm just crossing my fingers to see if they return my passport by next week when I go to Italy!

And then, of course, there's packing.

I've never been the best packer (why can't I just stuff my entire wardrobe into my suitcase?). And whenever I pack, I always have a major case of the "What Ifs."

What if I need to go to a fancy event?
What if I lose my favorite jeans?
What if I have to go to a theme party?

That being said, packing for something so long-term is already turning out to be a struggle and a half. Not to mention, I'm only able to bring so much stuff on a flight (aka no mini-fridge or TV). I'm sure those of you heading off to school in faraway places (even in the states) are facing similar hardships.

One of my sneakiest ways to bring even more "stuff" on a flight while avoiding checked luggage fees is by bringing on a tote bag (I just got this one in navy) as a "purse." There I'll put everything I need for the flight plus anything extra that won't fit in my luggage- ballet flats, a sweater, and maybe even socks. With the insane rates of checked luggage, you're going to want to get the most bang for your buck while flying. So teeny-tiny purses are definitely a no-no (try sticking your regular purse/cross-body in your tote!).

As far as carry ons go, I always make sure mine is as large as it can possibly be. Yes, it's annoying to roll a huge suitcase around the terminal, but it's totally worth it. Save your checked luggage for the real heavy-duty suitcase you have lying in your attic.

Anyone else having trouble preparing for college? What do you think the hardest part is?

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