GET A PASSPORT
You can apply for a passport at post offices, and county and municipal offices. Apply several months before you leave, especially if you need visas from foreign embassy. When you apply, bring proof of citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate, a naturalization certificate, a consular report of birth abroad, a previous passport, or a certificate of citizenship. You must also bring proof of identity, such as a driver’s license, a current student or work ID, or an old passport. You will also need two 2ʺx2ʺ photos of yourself taken in the past six months.
As soon as you receive your passport, make a copy of the front page that has all your identification information, and keep it in a separate place from your passport. If your passport is lost or stolen, the copy will make it easier to get a new one.
GET A VISA
Do some research and find out if your country of destination requires a visa. If so what kind of visa will you need? Sixty percent of the world’s countries require visas for any length of stay. If you travel, you may need visas for other countries. Apply early for visas. Processing time varies widely. Embassy addresses and phone numbers can be found at www.GoAbroad.com
GET YOUR SHOTS
The Center for Disease Control offers the most up-to-date information regarding vaccinations and shots. You should also consult your doctor.
GET A STUDENT ID
International Student IDs provide you with discounts at museums, for youth admissions and fares for transportation and other great discounts. In many cases your student ID from your school will suffice. The additional benefit of an International Student ID is the travel insurance, which usually includes minimal accident, health, repatriation and medical evacuation insurance. There are two major sources for student Ids. ISIC Card which can be obtained at any Council Travel Center or at www.goabroad.com/studentid/index.cfm
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION
You’re going to experience culture shock, no matter how cool you are, regardless of how diverse you are, and with no regard to your language ability you will have culture shock. One of the ways to have a better experience is to have realistic expectations. Read everything you can about your future home. The Lonely Planets guide to Thailand is a very informative book with hordes of information on Thailand and Bangkok, a few evenings reading through this before you go will at least give you an idea of what to expect.
Bangkok is warm all year round, you will not need to pack a case full of sweaters and other woolen clothes. Pack light! Do research on your destination in advance, find out what kind of items you must bring (for example- English t-bags are scarce and somewhat expensive). In Bangkok you will find almost anything you would expect to find in any Western City, and a whole lot more. Once more, items you may be considering to buy before leaving for Thailand (such as cotton shirts) will almost
certainly be more expensive in your home country than in Thailand. If you are not sure you will need it, leave it at home!