Pre-Departure Checklist for Students Traveling Abroad for Higher Education

After all the efforts of a study abroad aspirant yield great results in the form of good admission and a student visa to the desired country, an international student can feel excited to move abroad to pursue their dream career. However, it could be daunting to understand how life will unfold abroad or what essential items are needed to survive abroad. It becomes more challenging if one is moving to a colder country because, as Indian students, one is not used to living in the best countries like the US, UK, or Canada; life there is very different from the routines of an Indian lifestyle. Let us attempt to understand what a basic pre-departure or a to-do list comprises that international students require before embarking on their higher studies abroad journey.


1. Begin with Making a To-Do List

The best way to start any endeavour is to create a checklist. To get self-motivated, you can use a diary/notebook and pen down the items you will need to carry; instead of a diary, you can also use online planners, calendars, or sticky notes. Make a list of items you need to buy in an organised manner. It will save you from a lot of unnecessary last-minute tension. For all the items that you have already arranged, please strike them off your list.

Most importantly, please check and re-check all the academic and travel-related documents. It is important to make a folder of these documents with enough photocopies. Please keep one set of photocopies at your home with the knowledge of your parents. It is advisable to make an e-folder of all these documents and a separate folder of all communication from the university and visa office in your e-mail which will be of great help in case of an emergency.


2. Check the Validity of the Passport

Before an international student commences their study abroad journey preparation, they must check the validity of their passport. In no case, it should be less than six months after completion of your program. It helps to avoid any last-minute hitch in terms of applying for internships, co-op programs or CPT/OPT.


3. Book the Air-Flight Tickets

It is a common understanding that flight deals and tickets are extremely expensive in the peak season and especially when booked at the last moment. Therefore, as soon as the visa is approved, the study abroad aspirant should book the tickets. Booking flight tickets in advance is not only cheaper but also gives the choice to choose the direct flight to your destination. It will allow you an opportunity to be in touch with students who would be going to nearby universities; connections with other students provide the desired emotional support.


4. Get the Right Insurance Policy

It is a common practice for Indians to ignore and not avail the security and benefits of an insurance policy in their homeland. However, this lacklustre approach needs to change when you are planning your journey overseas. A suitable health and travel insurance plan is the first thing that will allow you to board the plane; so choose the right insurance policy and keep its paper in your hands to show it as and when required.

5. Carry Medicines

As Over the Counter (OTC) drugs are expensive abroad, it is advisable to make a list of common drugs/any regular medications you take and keep sufficient stock of the same in your suitcase.


6. Gain Knowledge About the Host Country

To overcome fear and anxiety associated with travelling and living in a foreign land, what helps is to do a bit of background study about the country. It is not just important but also a fun thing to know about the local weather/climate, seasonal changes, local culture, food, and the topography of the area. These topics are great conversation starters and can assist in breaking the ice while communicating with the locals. The best way to google the information you need and spend some time collecting the required information is to use the internet platform of the host country.


7. Understand and Learn to Better Manage Finances

This is the most challenging task. However, you are supposed to manage it on your own as there will not be anyone to help you. The difference in the exchange rate and dealing with the course may be a bit tedious but it is the most important aspect one must take care of. Please ensure that there are sufficient funds in the account that guarantees your stay; do not carry too much cash as it is not easy to carry. The best is to carry a traveler’s cheque or an international forex card.


8. Carry Basic Toiletries, Clothing, and Electronic Gadgets

These are also necessary items, and overstuffing clothes/toiletries is not a good idea because it will take up space. Therefore, it is good to segregate electronic gadgets, such as laptops, external hard drives and universal chargers in one handbag and keep them with you because you cannot risk putting them in a big suitcase.


9. Carry Foreign Currency

Most students carry about $1000 in currency and the rest can be taken in loaded forex cards. Carry some loose change for calling and eating/drinking while travelling. Forex cards/traveler’s cheques are preferentially priced, so consider carrying most of your money through them.

Also, the following is the checklist of the important documents to be kept handy in a folder, while travelling abroad.

University Documents

  • University-specific letters like admits, aid, forms
  • Original transcripts
  • I-20
  • Syllabus copies
  • Immunization documents (specific to university)
  • SEVIS fee receipt

Travel and ID documents

  • Passport photocopy
  • VISA photocopy
  • Air Ticket

Educational Documents

  • Original mark sheets
  • Attested mark sheets
  • Degree certificate
  • Final-year project report
  • Recommendation letters
  • GRE and TOEFL mark sheet


Manya – The Princeton Review Advantage

Manya – The Princeton Review offers end-to-end study abroad services encompassing admissions consulting services, test preparation, English language training, career assessment, and international internship opportunities to study abroad aspirants. Founded in 2002, Manya holds an impeccable track record of enabling more than 4 lac students to accomplish their study abroad dreams through its network of 47+ centers across India.

Manya has formed long-lasting global alliances with several market leaders in the education industry in order to maximize the benefits of its large service portfolio. Their list of esteemed partners and affiliations includes – The Princeton Review (TPR), Cambridge University Press (CUP), Cogito Hub, British Council, Tuding to name a few. Manya has also forged 600+ partnerships with international universities across top study abroad destinations.

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How much luggage is allowed on an international flight?

International flights allow 23 kgs for check-in luggage. However, it is best to check the luggage and dimension specifications with your respective airline carrier.

What do I need to do before studying abroad?

The first step to studying and travelling abroad is to prepare a departure checklist. It is hard to remember all the things to do and therefore a study abroad pre-departure checklist is a must-have.

How do I organize my travel and academic program documents?

Create a dedicated folder on your computer or cloud drive where you can save all your important study abroad program documents. Also, create a separate folder in your email to track all emails and correspondence you receive, so that they are easy to access, as and when required.

Is it difficult to study abroad for the first time?

Yes, moving to a different country is difficult. It is emotionally challenging, especially for someone who is attached to their family and has strong family ties. Therefore, moving to another country requires extra planning in terms of finances and life goals as well.

How do I get permission to travel abroad as a student?

The permission to travel abroad is granted through a student visa which the students generally apply for ~1-3 months before going abroad. Every country has its visa application requirements, and the students must follow the process issued by the respective embassy or consulate to have their visas issued on time.

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