If you’re on this page, there are no prizes for guessing that you must be looking at studying abroad! This is a decision that can affect the rest of your life, so do make it after careful thought and background research. Studying abroad comes with a host of benefits, both to your career and well as your personal development…and it can be a very exciting time in your life indeed! We have put together some points that you must keep in mind well before you set out on this journey.
> Get your paperwork in order.
All your paperwork must be in order, and this includes your passport, visa and admission offer papers. Financial documents should be updated, and if you need to carry transcripts of your certificates keep them ready as well. If anything needs to be endorsed make sure that it’s done well ahead of time. Any documents with an expiry date should be triple checked to ensure that they will be valid for the duration of your study abroad. Keep Xerox copies of all documents at home. It’s also a good idea to scan important documents and save them in a secure folder on the cloud.
> Sign up for courses on time!
You may need to sign up for your courses ahead of time, in most cases well before you arrive on campus…. so make sure that you read all the emails sent to you and adhere to their deadlines. Those who do not sign up for courses before the stipulated deadline will not get the courses of their choice, but will have to be content with what is left over after others choose. You don’t want that person to be you!
> Book your tickets ahead of time.
This is a no brainer….you will get the cheapest fares if you book well ahead of time. As soon as your admission is confirmed and you know the date of commencement of classes, go ahead and book the optimal flight so that you can get the price advantage. Read the fine print and look for refundable tickets in case of any change of plans!
> Book the most convenient student accommodation that is available.
Everything is online these days, making it very easy for you to check the most convenient student accommodation available. Look for something that suits your pocket and is an easy commute to your campus. There may be online student forums that talk about accommodation available for new students, and you can sign up and become a part of the student community even before you step foot in your new college!
> Keep an eye on the currency exchange.
Small changes in the currency exchange rate can have a big impact when it comes to large sums of money exchanging hands. Be wise and make large money transfers when the exchange rates are favorable, so that you don’t get unpleasant financial surprises.
> Be clued in about the current political and economic scenario in the country you are visiting.
You should stay clued in about any major political upheavals, health epidemics, changes to the economy, new visa rules and so on in the country that you will be studying in. If you are aware of what is happening, you can factor that into your planning. Talk to your financial planner and insurance adviser, and take adequate travel and healthcare insurance so that you are well protected during the duration of your course.
> Make sure that you have all the necessary health check ups and vaccinations.
Your college abroad will usually give you a list of immunizations that you must have before you travel. They will also ask for your medical records which should be signed by your doctor. If you are on any prescription drugs, remember to take enough for a couple of months and make sure that you carry the prescription with you. You may be required to show the prescription (signed and sealed) to your airlines during check in, to reassure them that you are not carrying illegal drugs on board.
> Keep your contacts handy.
It’s good if someone can be kept informed, at all times, of your location and itinerary, so that they can check with you to ensure that you are doing well and have arrived safely. Don’t fall off the grid just because you are in another country! Keep emergency contact numbers readily available with you.
> Get your finances in order.
If you are taking a loan or someone is sponsoring you, make sure that you have enough money to cover tuition and cost of living. You should never find yourself in a position where you run out of money or have to discontinue your course due to lack of funds. Also, you should get an international debit card or credit card, and meet with your bank to find out how these cards work overseas. Some banks might have regional partners that don’t charge a fee for withdrawing cash…the hidden costs, because of converting money to local rates can be prohibitive.
> Check if your overseas credits will be accepted back home.
If you are undertaking only part of your overall degree abroad, then you should ensure that your credits will be accepted by your home university. Speak to an academic advisor, both at your home university as well as abroad, to make sure that your courses are recognised in both places and you can stay on track when you get back home and continue your studies.
All set for your study abroad experience? Good! Have the time of your life, and stay safe and happy while you work towards your degree!