Going to study abroad can be a one-of-a-kind experience. Most students coming back from studying abroad will agree that it is definitely an experience to make the most of during university and, if they could, they would do it all over again.
That said, a study abroad experience only becomes easygoing if you have done the adequate preparation beforehand. It’s all well and good finding the right study abroad programme, having your application accepted and ensuring your selected study modules ties in with your degree in your host university, but it is also equally important to consider the practicality of your big move.
So whether you’re thinking about what accommodation to go for, the paperwork process or any removals and storage solutions you may need before you leave, here are some great tips for you to follow to prepare to study abroad.
Sort out your paperwork – sooner rather than later
When planning to travel abroad to study, you should ensure that your passport won’t expire within six months of your return to the UK. If you don’t have a valid passport, you should apply for your new passport as early as possible. Do your research to find out whether you need to apply for an additional student visa and what the requirements are. When it applies, obtaining a visa is necessary for you to enter your chosen country and live there as a student.
Other paperwork to sort out prior to your departure includes health insurance, travel insurance and any accommodation contracts.
Learn about the country in which you will be studying
Before departing for your new temporary home country, take your time and research the people, their culture, any common etiquette, and the rules and regulations you are need to adhere to.
Also get to know the history, geography, current political situation, government, and economy of that country. These pieces of information will help you know what to do and what not to do, and also help you avoid problems or make you better informed should you have to discuss these topics with the locals.
Manage your finances
Make sure that you have enough money to cover the initial expenses of your trip. This can include payment for flights, travel/health insurance, and rent deposits. You will also need to budget your money for your whole time abroad – it’s better to assume that you will need more than you think!
If you are planning to work a part-time job alongside your studies in the host country, this can be a good way to make money and make expenses more manageable. As with any visa, check if there are any rules or limitations regarding the number of hours you are allowed to work while on your student visa.
Additionally, research any grants you can apply for prior to your departure, such as the Erasmus+ grant, which is given to eligible UK students studying abroad in a country within the EU.
Find out where you will be living
Your study abroad programme may offer more than a few housing options, from a homestay to a dorm on an international campus, or even a shared apartment. While the housing options might be varied and plenty, you should consider a number of factors such as the ease and cost of commuting, your preference, the cost of each option, and the kind of experience you want.
As a new student in what will likely be a completely new city, consider the social aspects of where you are staying. Opting for the cheapest accommodation may be better for your pocket, but if it is isolated and far away from the rest of the social areas, you may find it difficult to meet new people and miss out on some immersive social experiences.
Plan for when you move back home
As mentioned above, preparation is key. Just as much preparation before your study abroad is necessary; you should also plan for your return. Coming back home can lead to reverse culture shock as your lifestyle once again changes, and you can be missing the experiences you had abroad. Adjusting back into home life can take a few weeks to process.
As most study abroad periods last either six months or a whole year, most students use a removals and storage service to store any belongings they didn’t take abroad with them. Using self-storage solutions is a good way to keep everything in one place, so upon your return, you have a one-stop location to gather your things and move back to your home space.
There are many more factors to consider and research before your departure day. Most universities will assign a study abroad mentor or coordinator who will help you with the preparation process. It always helps to do your own additional planning to reduce the likelihood of being unprepared for any problems or delays that may arise at a later stage.