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The idea of studying away can be scary! It is a completely new experience in a completely different location. It is always best to be prepared with a good understanding of the place to which you will be going and the program you will be attending. So it pays to do some research on the front end before selecting a place and program.

Picking a Program

For those really interested in sustainability, some study away programs have made sustainability a central part of their curriculum and the travel experience, and some destinations are inherently more sustainable in their cultures, mindset, and ways of being.

Information about a place’s culture of sustainability, a program’s course offerings, and what a particular program provider or institution is doing to make their away experiences more sustainable can typically be readily found with a little searching and inquiring. Check out the list of approved study away programs on the AC Travel Registry

Want to hear about the experiences of previous students? Check out program evaluations and posts from Sustainability Correspondents on the Beyond the Bubble blog! Many programs also have blog posts and student testimonials on their own websites that are worth looking through in your research as well.


If you are not an environmental studies major or have never taken a sustainability course, studying away can be a time to explore sustainability issues from an academic and international perspective. Alternatively, consider using your time away to consider new ways of learning, including more real-world experiences in your academics.

  • When picking courses, you could consider taking a sustainability focused course offered through your program. Keep an eye out for climate justice programs when registering for courses, sustainability themed internships, community engagement initiatives, or independent research projects.
  • You may look for organizations that have a sustainability goal and perhaps volunteer. Getting involved in sustainability is also a great way to meet people!
  • Do a little research to find out what are the major sustainability issues for your location / country / regional community and seek to understand why and how.
  • Teach others—show your peers how to live and travel more sustainably.


When you head off to your study away, packing can be one of the toughest parts of the departure. Limit the amount of stuff you bring in order to conserve space. Some things to consider:

  • Pack light and bring only the essentials (alas, no Mr. Snuffles—he’ll be waiting for you when you return!)
  • Consider where you are going and the climate of that place, and pack accordingly. Is it going to be hot? cold? rainy? dry? snowy? Knowing this information can help prevent you from overpacking.
  • Definitely bring a reusable water bottle.
    • Bringing your own water bottle and filling it up from the tap, if the water is safe to drink, helps reduce plastic waste and also saves money. *Many places don’t have tap water that is safe to drink, make sure to find out before you go.
  • Bring at least one reusable shopping bag.
    • It’s great to have for grocery shopping if you’ll be cooking for yourself, for souvenirs, or to carry as a day bag.
    • Many places will charge you for plastic or paper bags, so bringing your own saves money and reduces waste.
  • Make sure you bring the proper energy charging converters. This will save energy and also keep your appliances and technology safe from overheating.