Studying Abroad? Steps to take.
So, you have been accepted onto a foreign university programme, and are excitedly awaiting your international student life. Unfortunately, you really do need to plan, for failure to do so can result in a catalogue of stress and hassle in the long run. To prevent this, we have provided a handy checklist for preparing to study abroad:
- Passport! Ensure your passport will remain valid for the duration of your travels, and at least a year beyond the end of your studies. If you do need to apply or renew, get this done as soon as possible. Processing times vary but they generally take at least a month. Top of the to-do list. An absolute priority.
- Procure a student visa. Often universities offer assistance with the visa process, so make sure to ask. If not, it is a simple enough application process which may require an appointment with your local embassy to ensure things go smoothly.
- This is a biggie. First and foremost, make sure you have opened a bank account you can access abroad with a cash or credit card. Most banks operate internationally but charge a small fee when you withdraw cash or pay with your card. Do your research and ensure you open an account with a bank that is most financially viable for you.
- Exchanging currency. Prior to leaving your country of origin, ensure you have local currency for your destination of study at hand. There is an abundance of exchange rate comparison websites available from which you can choose the best value for money rate. However, don’t empty your account before you leave and have all your savings in cash. Plan. Calculate a weekly budget, considering living costs, expenses and travel. You don’t want to be left high and dry.
- Research any potential student scholarships available. There are many scholarships available which offer additional funding for your studies. These can come under terms such as ‘grants’ and ‘bursaries’. Apply. You have nothing to lose, and potentially lots to gain from doing so.
- Travel insurance. For a small payment, travel insurance covers you if anything happens to you (this is highly unlikely – don’t worry!), but it is always worth doing so. This covers you from things such as illness and theft.
- Visit your doctor prior to leaving and make sure you have had any possible vaccinations which you may require for your destination of study. Better safe than sorry.
- Hone your language skills – how else do you plan on socialising? For more information on fitting in during your opening week of university, have a look at our handy tips guide.
- Plan your journeys. Not just your return flight(s), but once you get there. The university won’t be around the corner! You may need to book trains, taxis or coaches to your accommodation. Consider purchasing bus passes and railcards to save money on future journeys. Make sure you explore the country in which you are going to study, plan trips out! There is a whole country for you to explore – not just the town or city you are studying at.
- Be excited. Sure, studying abroad can be a challenge of operating independently and of adaptability. But it is a huge opportunity for a life experience you will never forget and will take with you for the rest of your life. Seize it with both hands.
Here at The Guardian Abroad, we tailor our services to your specific requirements and needs. We provide help and assistance concerning all of the issues covered in this article, offering pre- and post-arrival support to students studying abroad. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.