23 Jun 2021 by Olga Brighton
Are you planning on studying abroad? Not sure where to start in preparing to study abroad? We can help with our essential must-do list.
Immersing yourself in a foreign country and studying while you are there is one of the most positive and life-changing experiences you could choose for yourself. A semester spent abroad can be hugely beneficial, from making you stand out in the job market, learning a new language, to boosting your confidence whilst making great friends and learning about a new culture.
It's not just about choosing a good university; it's also about deciding what you want to get out of your time overseas. Depending on the country you want to study in, there may be a few universities or maybe hundreds of them. Figure out what works for you, where you would like to be, what you want to see and where and what you wish to study. You need to think about fees, how you enroll and other requirements. This will, of course, vary from university to university and country you chose, but when you find a school that interests you, contact them right away so you don’t miss out!
Here’s our checklist on how to prepare for study abroad so you cover off the MUST HAVES before going on your trip.
The most important document for foreign travel. Make sure that it's valid and will stay valid for your entire trip. Even if your trip overseas is short – you should ensure you have at least 6 months before it expires. Different countries will have different rules, so check in good time.
Your second priority document is any Visa requirements. Usually, if you get accepted into a program, the university will help you get a visa if one is required. This is another critical item to check in good time before making your choice on where to study. A student visa will usually involve collecting different documentation - from identity checks to immunization etc. So be ready and ensure that you follow requirements exactly.
Budgeting may be a big part of your trip. Some scholarship programs may cover some costs, but you will probably need to chip in with expenses depending on the program. Check your all-in costs before you finalize your choice to ensure you can afford it. Make sure you have a way of receiving money from home in an emergency. Getting bank cards and a bank account is a must-do. Budget for everything - accommodation, food, and all daily costs and essentials. Use a budgeting calculator like this one from WHICH? Magazine to help you.
Read also: A Handy Covid Travel Apps Guide
Most programs require you to have travel insurance of some sort in place. It’s a must-have even if they don’t as for it! A medical problem outside of your home country could cost you thousands. Check the coverage of any inclusive packages carefully. They may not give you comprehensive cover and you’ll need to get student travel insurance. Here are some of the options you might find:
There may be specialist options available to you – especially if you're going to the USA on a J1 Visa, you may choose a J1 travel insurance policy.
Sometimes this is handled by your chosen student travel program. But, if not, get your tickets booked as soon as you can and use a flight consolidator to check prices. Look out for student discounts and flexibility to change travel arrangements in case you need to.
Top Tip: buy your travel insurance as soon as you book your travel. That way you will be covered for certain cancellation risks if you can’t travel - such as a medical emergencies including COVID cover.
Top Tip: JET LAG is real, and it will haunt you for a couple of days unless you take it seriously! Stay well hydrated on the journey; eat light, fresh food and when you arrive, try to wait out for the night and then sleep. No power naps, no staying up late.
Essential Covid vaccinations aside, you may need a vaccine or two to fulfil entry requirements to a foreign country. Different countries have different requirements. Check in good time – before you make your final choice and that means at least 6-8 weeks ahead of travel. If you are on prescription medication that you may not find in your new home, check with your doctor as you may need to get an additional supply.
You can usually find a substitute, but best to check in advance, and you and your doctor may prefer to stick with the exact brand you know. If you have particular allergies or sensitivities and need to use a particular brand of skin care or personal items, you may also need to stock up on that.
When you are travelling, you may have to wait in airports or change transportation multiple times. The travel insurance you bought may cover some of the costs in any case of theft, but it's better to just take good care of your stuff.
Top Tip: keep your money separated and have a credit card stored somewhere different.
Those are the basics you’ll need to cover off if you’re preparing to study abroad. Finally, don’t forget to buy the right power outlet and adapters / converters for all your electronic items. A remote recharger is a great idea too so you can stay charged on the go.
Wherever you chose to go, remember to check your local Government advice relating to travel (for UK residents it’s the FCDO. Have a great trip and study experience and remember your student travel insurance. Stay safe and travel aware and use the precious time you have as best you can.