2024 Preparation Checklist To Study Abroad for International Students
Studying abroad is an exhilarating experience with the chance to meet people from around the globe, gain unique experiences, and create lasting memories. However, the transition from a cozy family setting to independent living in a foreign country can be challenging if you’re unprepared. To ease your study abroad journey, we’ve put together a helpful checklist.
Navigating college life on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an amazing trip. It’s about being savvy with your finances, minimizing expenses while maximizing your study abroad adventure.
Your preparation is complete when you know what essentials to pack for your overseas study. We want you to confidently explore your school surroundings and return with some savings in hand.
Study Abroad Preparation | Helpful Tips
1.) Make Sure All Your Paperwork Is In Order.
Get your passport as early as possible, and apply for your visa(s) on time (if you’re reading this and wondering “Visa? What visa?” please you can look up your chosen country’s visa requirements immediately). If you have a passport, double check the expiration date. Make sure it will last you well beyond your stay abroad.
2.) Secure Your Courses, Flights, And Housing.
All study abroad programs are unique, but most involve traditional coursework. Know what classes you’ll be taking and when they meet (so you can plan activities around that schedule) and where you’ll be staying (to determine your commute). If you’re doing some travel before your semester begins, that’s great! Just make sure you’ve booked a flight to your study abroad destination. That’s the whole point of the trip, so don’t leave it up to chance.
3.) Talk To Your Bank.
Meet with your bank to find out how your credit and debit cards work overseas. Some banks will have their own, hassle-free items in your area, and some might have regional partners that don’t charge a fee for withdrawing cash. If you belong to a smaller bank that doesn’t have an international presence, plan for that. Lean on a traveler’s credit card as much as possible, and only take out cash when necessary.
4.) Budget Your Finances
This may not be something that’s constantly on your mind when your parents are around but while studying abroad, you need to be aware of your monetary circumstances and budgeting. Just like your mobile service provider, make sure there is an arrangement with your bank before you leave so they don’t decline your payments when you’re buying some coffee.
Some things you should be aware of if you aren’t already are:
- your bank’s international charging fee
- the current exchange rate between your home country and the country you’re moving too
- the monetary system of your new home.
5.) Keep Up To Date With The Currency Exchange.
When deciding where to study abroad, many students consider daily expenses, but some of the cheapest countries are also the least stable. Don’t assume that the US dollar, for instance, will have the same value when you’re studying abroad as it did when you checked the exchange rate five months ago, especially if your country has a particularly volatile economy. Even small changes can make a big impact when you’re budgeting for months instead of days, and you could suddenly find yourself spending Western Europe money in what you thought was a budget-friendly destination.
6.) Organize Your Flights And Itinerary.
Gather all your plane tickets, itineraries, maps, etc., and keep them on hand (or in your bag, actually—we don’t want any boarding passes or bus tickets left in seat pockets) for stress-free, efficient travel. By getting everything organized ahead of time, you can lay back and enjoy the ride—especially when you consider all the money you have saved.
7.) Culture Shock & Homesickness
I know a lot of people who experienced culture shock when they first started studying abroad, and many of my friends experience homesickness throughout the academic year. By following the first tip, hopefully, you’ll avoid culture shock. However, sometimes unforeseen events may tip you off, so you’ll need to cope.
To do this, overcome this;
- Keep an open and positive mind of what’s happening around you and ask for help.
- Don’t isolate yourself and just hope for someone to come along.
- Call your parents and people at home regularly.
- Take it that you are there for just a short while, so just enjoy your time abroad because you’ll miss it when it’s over.
8.) Weather & Clothes
Something you might want to consider is the weather. Research the climate and the average temperature of the place you’ve chosen. As you can see, it’s best to know the weather in the area so you can pack the appropriate clothes from your home country. This will help you to be intentional with your spending.
9.) Make Sure Your Chosen Course Is Widely Accepted.
Study abroad programs pre-approved by your department should be no problem, but if it’s something you found online or through another office, you should speak with an academic advisor to make sure you’ll be on track when you return home. The last thing you want after studying abroad is to find out that none of those classes count toward your career advancement.
10.) Phone Plan
This is essential when studying abroad. You never know if you’ll suddenly need to make a call at the airport, use your data for Google Maps, or search for information like a taxi company. Before you travel, check with your mobile phone provider if they have international plans with the country you’re moving to and if it’s still affordable.
If not, be sure to sign up for a mobile plan at the airport once you touch down so you have one less thing to worry about. If you can, do also pack a cheap backup phone just in case something happens to yours. You can never be too careful.
11.) Emergency Numbers
Now, we all probably know the emergency numbers of different countries so of course, that’s not what I’m referring too. (Note: Get to know the emergency hotline of the country you’re moving to if you don’t already know it.) What I’m talking about is the emergency number of your school/college/university so there’s someone you can call if you get lost or something has happened to you at the airport upon landing.
To be well prepared, be sure to have the emergency number written physically on a piece of paper as well to keep in your luggage in case something happens to your phone.
12.) Electronic Devices
On the flip side though, phones and laptops are absolute essentials as most schools and colleges nowadays are being more electronic by introducing e-learning and other online-based learning programs into their system. If you don’t have a laptop, you’re going to find it difficult to type up that 1,000-word essay on your phone screen or create a presentation on your tablet. Be sure to know your school/course and get the appropriate electronic equipment.
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