Studying Abroad? Take This Guided Advice

A large number of students apply for study abroad programmes. They help students gain high-quality education, adopt a global mindset and improve future employment prospects. The type of experience gained by an individual will largely vary based on the location therefore the international experience will vary from person to person. In my personal experience, I studied abroad at two different countries - Brazil and Hong Kong. There are plenty of suggestions to consider before embarking on a journey of a lifetime. Here are a few of my own.

Make sure to photocopy or take a picture of important documents and bring the original documents too. It is useful to do this to avoid moments of panic when you need essential information quick on hand. Keep your passport, visa, driving licence etc. safe and secure with you at all times. A good safety measure I picked up is using a secure key and padlock to keep your essentials safe in a carrier.
Packing light can help reduce the luggage space and makes a good excuse for a shopping spree in the host location. Refer to a study abroad checklist so you can gain an idea on what is essential and appropriate for the destination. Luggage fee is never cheap so consider what is best for you.
Carry out informed research on what bank can offer you the best value as an international student. It is easy to slip up and fall into paying sums if you just use any bank card. Make sure to research the debit and credit card rates and withdrawal fees. Digital banks like Monzo and Revolut are great options to withdraw money with zero/minimal charges of the exchange rate.
Creating a budget is a great way to monitor where your money is going. You can relax and make the most out of your experience if you budget wisely. Being savvy with money is a great skill so figure out what works best for you.
Search for local travel cards and check if you can apply using a student discount. It can be very handy going cashless. Often travel cards can be topped up at metro stations or at convenience stores. Some cards provide exclusive discounts on everything from eat-outs, tour sights and leisure activites.

In the event of an emergency, resorting to ICE contacts can be the best protocol. You can get in touch with a relevant person without the hassle of remember or frantically searching on the spot. You never know when it might come in handy so it is worth taking note of contacts based home and in the host country. 
Seek insurance options to make sure you are covered. Medial insurance options vary from country to country so it is best knowing what options are available to you depending on your time of stay. Travel or Content insurance can be worth taking out to cover your possessions in case they get lost, broken or stolen.

Try and familiarise with the local language by using language learning apps and sites. Some accents and dialects can be hard to grasp so making early preparation can come handy for a smooth travel experience. Apps like google translate and photo translator offer convenience with language translation and interpretation on the spot. 
Decide on your accommodation. Most universities let students stay in halls of residence. If this is not an option or you feel better off staying somewhere elsewhere, look into private accommodation options or consider sharing a place with other exchange students. Sorting this out early is best to avoid disappointment.

Enjoy yourself
Get involved and immerse yourself in the host country. You make friends from different walks of life and learn many new things so get involved from the beginning! Attend orientation week and join clubs and societies that interest you, speak to the exchange coordinators in the host country and start up a conversation with someone new!
Keep track of your experiences
There is a lot taking place when you study abroad so it can be difficult to reflect on what you have been up to. Look to create a journal or from time-to-time, make a list of things you have done or would like to get involved in. This is really a once in a life time experience and you will make many incredible memories.
The most important word of advice is to enjoy yourself and have fun. There are many opportunities to get stuck in. It is your break and chance to try something new.
In my experience, I discovered...
  1. Before travelling, know what you would want to take-away - is it language learning, engaging with locals, trying the best national food? Cultural attitudes, domestic laws and polices vary from country to country so you no longer just see life through your national lens.
  2. Check travel advice and be alerted on the latest government travel advice. Know your rights and what services are available to you by researching the consulate and embassy representing your country.
  3. Your happiness and mental health are not to compromise. Take care of yourself and others around you. The people you encounter may not see your point of view therefore you should keep your head held high and move on.
  4. Forget your traditional routine. Know it may take time to adjust to a foreign country so withdraw yourself from social media and spend more time in immersion in a foreign country.
  5. Videos and photos give a perspective to a travel experience but not the full picture. Try not to be fooled by Instagram posts or vlogs boasting someones personal experiences.
  6. Find your style of memorabilia (whether this is camera photos, videos, souvenirs) but don't go over the top. Excess luggage is not cheap to carry when travelling back.
  7. You do not need to justify your response in situations that are guided from your intuition, whether this is the abstinence of alcohol or cutting ties with people.
  8. There are infinite things to learn about in the world. From languages, academic disciplines, interpersonal lessons. You might end up feeling lost, without sense of purpose but feelings can fade after you take control of them.
  9. Things may not follow to plan so you should be ready to deal with unexpected situations calmly and proactively. It all leads to greater open-mindedness. In those situations, allow for rest and downtime to alleviate burnout to help feel more at ease.
  10. Keep connected with the people you meet whether this be through social platforms like Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn. You never know when you might want to connect again in the future.                                                              

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Marie at Complete Literature said...

Studying abroad is such an amazing opportunity. A couple of my kids were able to do it. Your advice is on point.

Kuntala’s Diary said...

I had wishes of studying abroad but it did not materialize though I stayed abroad for work. But for my son it may happen, so it was a good read for me

Autumnleaves said...

My daughter is considering a study abroad program. I'll share this helpful information with her. Thank you.

littlemisadencha said...

you know what. this is very timely. im planning to get a scholarship and study abroad! and i love your tips here. very helpful!