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Finding the perfect little beret for your study abroad trip to France may seem like the most important thing on your planning plate. But just wait till that plate is crawling with snails, or escargot as the French say.

Reading up on foodborne illnesses is just one thing every student jet-setter should do before crossing the pond. Here are some tips to keep in mind for your study abroad trip:

Planning

Christopher Cook, UCF's study abroad adviser, said the first thing students need to do is answer an array of questions that will help them decide if studying abroad is the right choice for them.

This list will ask students to answer questions referring to what they wish to get out of their experience, along with inquiries about their academic plans.

"Answering all these types of questions will help narrow down the program options and hone in on what [students] really want to invest in," Cook said.

Students can visit presentations that the Office of International Studies hosts every fall and spring semester. There is also a study abroad fair, which will be held Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union's Pegasus Ballroom.

After students gather all of the information they need, they will have to see an academic adviser and send in an application at least two or three semesters before their time abroad.

But students should remember that they must be present at UCF for their final semester, or else they will not graduate on time.

Health

Students who wish to study abroad also need to make sure they visit the travel clinic at the UCF Health Center.

"If you have any out-of-country travel plans, it's a good idea to come to the Health Center and see us about six to eight weeks in advance so we can advise on what you need," said Jerry Vega, a physician assistant and head of the clinic.

Before they visit a new country, it is also necessary for students to remember to check travel health notices that are sent out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so they know potential risks that could be present in the area.

Vega said the biggest health risk he sees students struggle with in other countries is foodborne illnesses.

"Some cultures prepare food differently and undercooked or raw food can present a big health risk," he said. "You should try new things, but be cautious."

Finances

For many students, the draw of new and exciting experiences is what makes studying abroad so appealing, but it is important to keep in mind the amount of money that is needed to make the trip worth while. Because these programs are academic, Cook said loans, grants and scholarships can be applied to classes around the world as if they were the same classes at UCF's campus.

"My biggest word of advice would be to save up as much money beforehand, and remember that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Amy Witt, a senior event management major who studied in Bournemouth, England, this spring. "Don't take your time away for granted, and see as much of your host country as possible. Travel everywhere that you can."

According to UCF's study abroad website, many of the university's short-term programs cost anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000, which often doesn't include tuition, flights or meals.

Although each program will have its own costs, the site suggests to consider a rough estimate as double the cost of the program.

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Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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