Checklist for Studying Abroad – Prepare in 5 Easy Steps
07 Jun 2019
Studying abroad can be one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can get. You are furthering your education in a foreign country, a foreign culture. This will broaden your horizons, make you understand yourself, and others, better. Furthermore, it will serve as an amazing challenge, really putting you out of your comfort zone. Put simply – studying abroad helps you grow in every way. However, if you want to make the most of it, you have to prepare.
Too many people make the mistake of not really preparing for a trip. This is made worse when you’re not really preparing for something as important as studying at a university far away from home. For this reason, we have taken the liberty of writing up a short list on how to prepare. Planning and proper preparation are key, and the most important steps can be found below.
Get a visa and a passport
These are the two most important elements. Indeed, you won’t be able to leave the country, and enter the new one, without a visa and a passport. Now, in case you do have a passport, double check in case it expired (or if it’s going to expire by the time you intend to come back home). Always double check your visa documentation as well.
Now, as far as applying for a visa and a passport goes, these depend on your country, your university, the foreign university, and the foreign country. However, some general facts remain. You will most likely need to present your birth certificate, two recent photos, added ID documents, and a fee if you want to create a passport. Furthermore, you should always keep in mind that passports usually have long waiting lists. In Australia it usually takes around three weeks from the moment your application was lodged.
As far as the visa is concerned, this is up to you and your advisor. However, you will most likely need a good letter of recommendation (or several), as well as a cover letter, and a short resume on your extracurricular activities.
Get some advice
This is a very general piece of advice, but it’s important nonetheless. We want you to sit down, and write down the names of the people who can help you out and make this experience much easier. For example, speaking with people who already travelled to this area will help you a lot. Talk to your advisors, your professors, see if there is any added documentation you need to get. If you can, speak with professional visa lawyers in Sydney (or wherever your University is based), since we all know how convoluted some of Australia’s laws can be. The point here is to minimize ambiguity, and allow yourself a smooth, and stress-free trip.
Get a check-up
You should get a full physical examination before you go on this trip. This includes a visit to the dentist as well. You want to be in perfect health when you go abroad. The last thing you need is to get sick, or need serious dental work, while in a foreign country. Furthermore, you need to inform your doctor about where you are going. The reason behind this is that you may need certain types of vaccinations, just in case.
Remember to stock up on any prescription drugs you need for your trip. They should, if possible, last you for the entire trip. This is a safety measure in case you won’t be able to get them when abroad. Remember to also pack them properly. They require special labels and containers, otherwise they may get seized.
Buy a plane ticket and pack
Buying a plane ticket is not as simple as it sounds. Getting the best price centres around proper timing and pure luck. Try to check out websites that let you compare the best prices and options for your trip. A long trip to Melbourne may be worth it if it just so happens to have the best ticket prices in Australia. Check with your university, maybe they can offer you a special discount or deal on ticket prices.
As far as packing is concerned, we advise you check what the airline’s luggage allowances are. Carrying to much stuff that you don’t really need will end you up with large fees. This, of course, depends on how long your studies will last. For one semester two checked bags and one backpack will most likely be enough.
Remember to pack the right clothing for your destination. Check the weather reports, and ask around to figure out what to bring. As far as your actual packing list goes, it totally hinges on whether you’re going there for two months or an entire year. That was is up to you.
Do your homework
Finally, do your homework. You are going among a completely new and different culture, and you need to prepare accordingly. Even if you’re travelling from Australia to Canada, from one English-speaking culture to another, you should understand that some culture shock is bound to happen.
People do things differently, they eat different food, and they have different customs. Do some research, and read up about things natives fund annoying, what is taboo to them, what is not. Understand where you are coming from, and where you are going. It’s advisable (if not already part of your student visa) that you learn at least some of the language of your target destination. Refresh your language skills, continually improve them before you go, and get a pocket dictionary (or a good app).
Studying abroad is an amazing experience that will help you grow immensely as a person. However, to make the most out of it, you need to prepare. Get your documentation in order, and get some advice. Pack properly, do your research, and try to avoid (but also accept) culture shock. Get a good physical, just in case, and don’t forget to buy a plane ticket on time. With all this out of the way, you can be certain that your experience will be simply unforgettable.
Lucas H Parker
I am a business consultant with a passion for writing. Doing my research, exploring and writing are my favorite things to do. Besides that, I love playing my guitar, hiking and traveling.