– Mr. Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, University Living
There are a million things to consider when making a critical decision. Leaving your home to attend a university in a foreign country would rank pretty highly on the list of critical decisions you are likely to make in your life. Everybody wants their study abroad experience to have all the cinematic flourish there is, minus the weight of unnecessary and meandering conflicts.
However, reality has a way of spicing things up with blatant disregard for the individual involved. After all, truth is—as the adage goes—stranger than fiction. How, then, to ensure having a secure and hassle-free educational trip abroad which also happens to be unforgettable for all the right reasons?
Needless to say, you will need to take care of several important things ranging from researching the admission procedure and accommodation facilities on or around campus to fulfilling legal formalities, packing critical documents, and so on. Planning well in advance is key to having a seamless transition into your new life. Here, then, are some of the things that you must add to your travel checklist before taking off!
- Keep all documents travel-ready
Make sure that the folder containing all your important documents, including your passport and student visa, never leaves your sight till the time you board the plane. Before leaving your home, check, double-check, and triple-check to ensure all your paperwork is in place.
- Up your finance management game
How you plan to finance your overseas education (if you don’t have a scholarship) is crucial to determining your lifestyle at university. Therefore, you must create a robust fiscal plan with each calculation carried out accurately. You may cut down on unnecessary transactional charges on your international credit/debit cards by opening a student bank account in your host city.
This will also enable you to access hassle-free and convenient online banking services. Also, make sure to familiarize yourself with the local denominations beforehand so that you can easily make payments without any challenges.
- Less is more when it comes to packing
You are most likely to pack a lot more of stuff that you will not need and less of what you will actually end up needing. This, while wholly unavoidable, can be mitigated by researching the weather patterns of your study abroad destination.
Consulting acquaintances who live there or have visited is a good place to start; otherwise, the internet is your best friend. Either way, frugal packing will only translate into you having to carry less weight on your shoulder. You can always shop for more in your new city.
- Research immigration rules in advance
Immigration rules vary from one country to another. So, make sure you research the policies applicable to your host country before you land there. The first step is to get yourself registered with the internal affairs ministry within two days of your arrival. This will serve to legalize your stay in the country.
Next, register yourself at the local embassy of your home country. When things get, the sight of familiar faces can be just the remedy you need at the moment to pick yourself back up again.
- Acquaint yourself with the social customs, etiquettes, and the rules of your host country
Nobody wants to be booked as a defaulter or branded an outcast in a foreign country on account of an unintentional and avoidable oversight. While you will most definitely be given the benefit of the doubt, being prepared is half the battle won. Therefore, it is advisable that you familiarise yourself with the code of conduct, laws, and etiquettes practiced in your study abroad destination in advance so to put your best foot forward.
- Activate your multilingual mode
As is famously said: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Locals will always appreciate sincere efforts to understand, adopt, and respect the domestic culture. This includes your attempts at speaking the local language. Fret not if you think you are speaking a broken variant of the target language, it is the heart that counts, and the locals know and appreciate this well.
- Consult your seniors
It is virtually impossible to do everything on your own. While there is no doubt that becoming self-reliant is a brave and noble enterprise, knowing when to ask for help is just as wise. Therefore, never hesitate to consult seniors who have already been through the process of moving overseas. Keeping your problems to yourself is a surefire way to breed mental health challenges. Under no circumstances is that a wise trade-off to make.
- Befriend the map
Google Maps will be your best friend when navigating a new country on your own. Make sure to also learn how to use a physical copy of the map for emergencies. It is advisable to spend the first few days exploring your neighborhood. Locating key sites such as the supermarket, the hospital, your campus, etc. is a good way to start familiarizing yourself with your new home.
- Opt for a travel insurance
Getting a financial instrument to insure yourself against health-related challenges is important. Opt for a policy which covers overseas care under the ambit of its contract.
- Have emergency numbers handy
It is a good idea to note down critical contact information on your notepad in case you misplace your phone. The number of your university, your parents, the embassy, landlord, etc., are some key contacts that you should have on you at all times.
When you have checked all of these boxes, you have pretty much-taken care of everything there is to do before leaving for the airport. Now, all that remains for you to do is to spend quality time with your family and friends before you embark on the next phase of your life!
I want education abroad to be available again, as it was before the pandemic. Even if it requires a lot of preparation and sometimes financial input. It’s always been a dream of mine, but now there are no programs that are available to me.