Studying abroad is an exciting experience, but if you aren’t adequately prepared you may find that you are in for too much unwanted excitement! Prepare well ahead of time, and get set to have the adventure of a lifetime.
We bring you a handy check-list and some tips to ensure that your transition abroad is as smooth as it can possible be! If possible, attend pre-departure services and briefings that can help to clear your doubts.
Well ahead of time, apply for your passport and visa (if you need one). Remember that you will need a passport to apply for your qualifying tests, including IELTS, GRE and so on. Check that your passport has not expired, if you are already a passport holder. You will be able to apply for your visa only after you have obtained the offer degree from the institute of your choice. Visa requirements vary from country to country, so check the latest updated information from the official website of the country you are visiting.
Once you know the date of commencement of your course, you can make your travel bookings. It is fairly easy to book online, but do make sure that you allow for sufficient time in between flights. If one flight is delayed and you do not have adequate time in between flights, you may miss your connecting flight. It is safe to plan for a minimum of three hours in between connecting flights. Do make sure that you book your tickets well ahead of time so that you can get the best rates. Online booking websites also show fares to nearby airports which are cheaper; if you are taking a flight to a nearby airport then do check how you will travel till your end destination. Taxis are sometimes unexpectedly expensive, and the lowered cost of the flight may be offset by the added expense of the taxi ride.
Make sure you find suitable housing before you make the trip. You can get a list of recommendations from your student housing assistance. You can also find online forums where students from different countries connect with each other and get accommodation help from alumni or current students. If you can pay an advance on the rental and sign a rent agreement online, then you can be sure that you have a place to stay before you land.
Get your finances in place. You may need to pay tuition and accommodation advances and arrange for health insurance ahead of time. Make sure you read all the fine print. Find out what documents you need to carry in order to start a bank account abroad. Take a student forex card which can be topped up by your relatives at home, in case you need money. If you are studying on a loan, make sure that all your documents are in order. Work out a daily or monthly budget for the duration of your stay abroad and ensure that you have adequate funds to meet your expenses, plus some more in case of any unforeseen necessities. Consider giving your parent a power of attorney to handle financial transactions in your absence.
Get a full health and dental check up before you leave the country, and get all the necessary immunisations on your record. If you have a pre-existing medical condition that requires you to carry medication for any length of time, get a letter from your doctor describing your condition and the medicines that you need to carry. Check whether your study program fees include health insurance. You will need to show that you have adequate coverage. If you wear contact lenses, get some refills and take a copy of your eye prescription.
Get familiar with your host country’s culture. Learn to speak the local language and learn some of the local customs. Read up on travel guides and the music, films, and food that you can expect. Try to find out what the local sports are, and make a list of the local sights you would like to see.
Get an international phone card. Once you reach your host country, you should get a new phone connection to minimise expenses. Make sure you have all your contact numbers with you.
Buy a number of travel adapters and/or voltage converters, depending on the voltage in the country you are going to. If you are carrying electric appliances, you may need plug adapters as well.
Before you start packing, check the luggage allowance on the flight you have booked yourself on. In many cases, students are allowed extra baggage allowance at no additional cost, just by showing proof of the college admission. You may need to repack several times to make sure that your luggage is within the permitted weight and size. Keep your tickets, passport and visa, id cards, forex card and whatever you require on the flight in a separate pouch that is easy to access.
Once you are all set, make sure you arrive at the airport well ahead of time.