The thought of making new friends, experiencing a different culture, learning new things makes studying abroad one of the most, thrilling, and life-changing experiences a student can have. However, it can also be the worst nightmare for a student who isn’t prepared or does not fully understand the demands that accompany the entire process.
Many international students have preconceived notions about studying abroad, only to find out just how different the reality of studying abroad is from their fantasies, right in their first semester. However, the experiences are not always negative, as many can recount wonderful moments shared with others, even amid their disappointments.
That being said, as a student looking to study abroad, here is our list of 8 important things you need to know before you begin packing your bags in pursuit of an educational program abroad:
Related Read: 5 Important Reasons Student-Visa Applications Fail
Set Very Few Expectations
This might seem rather unusual when you think about it in the quietness of your dorm-room. And that’s because expectations can help to shape the outcome, but they can make your experience a very frustrating one when they are a little over the top.
It might help you feel more prepared when you research where you would be going ahead of time, but many students who study abroad found that setting fewer expectations before your study abroad program can lead to a more fulfilling experience.
For instance, you may be grossly disappointed with the cuisine in China, and some very popular restaurants in your country of study may not be as magnificent as you imagined they would be, and that’s normal.
It might be impossible to plan memories, but you take the experience as it comes and appreciates your foreign community for what it truly is compared to what you would like it to be.
Get Your Documents and All Necessary Paperwork Ready
With the recent turn of events around the world, there have been changes in visa applications, vacation planning, travel procedures which now include vaccinations and a ton of documentation that goes along with studying abroad these days.
There is a lot of paperwork to be done when it comes to living, working, or studying abroad. Most countries require you to have a student visa, while very few others don’t. This is where your research should begin right after you have found the desired destination. You can check out how to choose the best university to study abroad if you have any difficulty finding the right institution to study abroad. You can also go online to see your desired location State Department’s student visa guide.
Visa is a very important travel document, and you can’t get to your desired study location without one or anywhere else for that matter. You may also need an additional visa, but that’s completely dependent on the local laws. Again, this is why you need to do a great deal of research before you begin. Also, some countries in Europe may have reciprocity with your student visa which details information like the duration of your stay.
In addition to getting your travel documents and paper works ready, your passport must also be updated, with the expiry date properly checked. Many countries will require you submit a passport with at least one year validity when you’re applying for their visa.. Some countries would require you to carry your license or government ID card as an international student, in case you need to go to the bar or restaurants. Again, you need to check your destination’s rules before you leave.
Lately, vaccination and health screening requirements for most countries have intensified, and that’s quite justifiable. That said, you’ll need certified documentation to prove that you’re in the proper health shape to be admitted into the country..
Can I work while I study abroad?
This is one of the most frequent questions we get asked as study abroad agents. But the fact remains, it rests largely on whether your student visa allows you to work or not. Many countries do not permit foreign students to work at all, while others allow international students with student visas to work.
But some countries will require you to fill out a special application to get permission to work, but that can only happen when you have already begun your study program in such countries. Be sure to search country- or region-specific working requirements if that’s something you’re interested in.
You might be a little surprised to learn that even remote work like journalism, video editing, or anything else done entirely digitally requires special permissions to get paid while you’re completing the work in another country. So, freelancers, take note!
One other thing you could try while studying abroad is volunteering. Since there aren’t any tax issues attached, volunteering is usually available to foreign students. But some countries might require you to apply to join an organizations. Before you leave, be sure to check your destination’s requirements to know what’s allowed and what’s not.
You May Find The Weather A Little Strange
Another thing you might want to consider is the weather. A lot of international students have complained about excessive weather conditions, and that’s quite normal considering they are not used to such weather conditions.
For instance, foreign students in Russia might find it too cold for them, and it might take some time for them to adjust. Before you leave, make sure to research the climate and the average temperature of your destination. If you are from a country where the weather is mostly hot and you are going to a country where the weather is usually cold, this means you would need thick or silk shirts with trousers.
Have a Backup Phone
This is one of the most essential things to note when studying abroad. You never know when you might need to make a call at the airport, use Google Maps to find a place, or look up a piece of information online. Before you travel, check with your mobile phone provider if they have international plans with the country you’re moving to and if it’s still affordable.
In situations where your mobile phone provider does not have international plans, you can sign up for a mobile plan at the airport once you arrive at your destination. You can also pack a cheap backup phone just in case something happens to yours. A need could arise, you never can tell.
You Need a Study Budget
This may not be a concern for you when your parents are your sponsor, but while studying abroad, you need to keep track of your finances and properly manage your budget. Be sure to make sure your bank knows what’s up before you leave so they don’t decline your payments when you’re buying some coffee.
Things such as your bank’s international charging free, the current exchange rate between your home country and the country your destination, and the monetary system of your new home… are some of the things you need to keep in mind.
This part only comes to play by the time you must have signed all the required paperwork and done all documentation, and you are ready to leave. If you have never been stranded or stuck in a place that’s foreign to you, you may never understand why it is important to have an emergency number.
It is important to know the emergency hotline of your destination. Have the emergency number of your institution safely written somewhere, so there’s someone you can call if you get lost or something has happened to you at the airport upon landing.
Culture Shock & homesickness are Real
Many international students have confessed to experiencing culture shock when they first started studying abroad. And many of them also experience homesickness throughout the academic year. But these feelings are perfectly normal experiences when you are coming into a relatively distant place for the first time.
To overcome this home-sick feeling, you need to keep an open and positive mind about what’s happening around you and ask for help. Don’t isolate yourself and just hope for someone to come along. You have to take responsibility for yourself because you’re now a young adult.
From researching what programs to study to making an application, and booking airfare – the beginning of your study abroad experience can seem a frustrating endeavour. And that’s just one phase of the entire journey. It is never too early to know what studying abroad actually is like.
Our list will help you better prepare for almost any situation you might find yourself during your study abroad program.
Students who study abroad with us at Solidlink Consulting are allowed to settle in comfortably and nicely away from home. We provide a thorough preparation for students looking to study abroad and help them cross every important item on their study abroad application before they leave.