Many agree that studying abroad has been the best decision of their lives. However, going abroad could either take you to a better place or make you regret leaving your homeland. Although, one thing is for sure: leaving, despite how frightening it could be, can teach you a lot about yourself. No matter how glamorous studying abroad sounds like, the experience is not at all flawless. Hence, aspiring international students like you must know the most essential things as listed below before proceeding with your plans for studying abroad.
The first thing to do is to “Get all Your Paperwork Ready”. Get your passport as early as possible and apply for your visa on time. If you already have a passport, double and triple check the expiration date and ensure that it will last well beyond your semester abroad. Always have your documents secured somewhere safe together. There is a reason why these are called important documents and it is vital to prepare and safeguard them with caution.
Invest some time researching your destination. Gather information beforehand so that you can make preparations, especially in terms of climate, culture, cost of living, availability of different varieties of food and so on. Besides that, if the country is not an English-speaking one, make sure to learn some essential phrases of the local language that you can use in communicating with the locals. Knowing the basics of local communication is a good skill to take away when you have decided to study abroad.
This may sound very old school but technology is just something that you can’t rely on 100% of the time. In the event that your phone runs out of power, at least you have the contact information of your emergency contact in your journal.
Make friends; don’t be scared to talk to new people. Remember, everyone going on the trip is new to each other and is in the same boat you are in. One of the most rewarding things you can do while studying abroad is to make friends with the locals. Making friends with the locals would help you know about the hangouts and spots that the tourists and other students don’t know about. It can help you with practicing the language and you can learn popular slang terms that you are otherwise not taught in the classroom.
You will be going to amazing universities that have facilities that you only dreamed of as a student. The infrastructure of your college/university can have a profound impact on you as it can affect your health, behavior, engagement, learning, and growth in the personal and professional front and lead to greater achievements.
School/college/university events can bring the wildest school spirit in you. By attending the school activities and events, you will be well projecting yourself in front of the faculties and your peers. Though winning gives pleasure, what is more, important and matters a lot is participating.
It is obvious that you will be visiting several tourist destinations, doing touristy things and it is okay to do so but doing what the locals do is something else. Exploring your new home country just as locals do lets you discover and appreciate the authenticity of your host country/state.
Keep yourself up to date. If your study abroad country’s economy is booming, if it is experiencing major political upheavals, or if the country is in the middle of a health crisis, ensure you are well-informed and well-read about the happenings.
A small change in currency exchange processes can make a big impact when you’re budgeting for months instead of days, and you could suddenly find yourself spending more money.
Consult with your bank to find out how your credit and debit cards work overseas. Some banks will have their own, hassle-free ATMs in your area and some might have regional partners that don’t charge a fee for withdrawing cash. However, if you belong to a smaller bank that doesn’t have an international presence/plan for that, leaning on traveller’s credit card is advisable and only withdraw cash when absolutely necessary.
“Leaving is liberating”, so step outside your comfort zone, pack wisely, budget well and experience your adventure of studying abroad to its fullest potential!
By Robin Dahal, Senior Editor