Studying abroad can be a great way to expand your horizons and explore new cultures. However, if you are not prepared, you can easily get overwhelmed when trying to study in a new country. Before you make any concrete plans to study abroad, there are some important things you need to know.
Double Check All Your Plans and Paperwork
Studying abroad is not a good time just wing it and go with the flow. Remember that finalising all your plans can take months, so begin planning as soon as possible. Get your passport very early and begin looking into visa requirements as soon as you pick a country. Then make sure you secure your courses, flights, and housing before you go any further with your plans. Always double check your plans, especially if you have made them in a second language, to ensure everything is in order before you leave.
Learn About the Country Before You Pick It
Not all studying abroad experiences are the same, and the area you choose can have a big influence on how well your trip goes. Try to learn a little about the weather, language, transportation, food, and culture of an area before you decide to study there. Make sure you will feel comfortable with cultural attitudes towards things like foreigners, race, sexuality, and gender as well. To find a country that is a good fit, carefully consider your goals for studying abroad.
Plan Your Finances Carefully
Unless you are lucky enough to get a full scholarship for studying abroad, with all meals, travel, and lodging included, you will need to make sure you can afford to study abroad. It is possible to do standard student loans in some cases, but there are more rigid requirements, so you should talk to your financial aid advisor before deciding to rely on these loans. If you are planning on working in the other country to help with expenses, you will need to look at your visa carefully to make sure this is allowed. In addition to a source of income, you will also want to begin building up an emergency savings account as a contingency plan. If you don’t have enough money to start building a savings account, do your research on alternative funding sources like long term installment loans in case you encounter an unexpected emergency while abroad. This type of loan can be a useful way of making ends meet when savings fall short in an emergency, but you should make sure you pay them off as soon as possible.
Make an Effort to Meet Friends
One of the biggest problems people mention when studying abroad is feeling isolated and homesick. You will need to take proactive steps to keep this from happening, instead of just assuming you will be fine. Try to join a few university clubs in your new country so you can get to know your fellow students. It may also be helpful to look online for local expat meetups, where you can hang out with other foreigners living in the country.
Remember You’ll Actually Have to Study
With all the excitement of leaving familiar surroundings and living in a new place, it is easy to forget about the “study” part of studying abroad. However, the reality is that the classes you take will have a huge impact on your experience. Carefully look at the programs and courses before you pick them, and do not automatically assume foreign classes will be easier. Though studying abroad is enriching and fun, it is not a lengthy vacation. Make sure you are willing to do the required work before settling on a study abroad program.
By educating yourself about studying abroad before you go, you can make sure the experience is as positive as possible.