So, you’ve decided to study abroad? The chances are you’ll have a hundred questions that need answering, from what you need to take to what your new home will be like. Relocating to a different country is a big step to take at any point in life, but there’s no doubt that you will reap the benefits.
If you’re wondering where to begin when it comes to getting yourself organised for the big move, here’s our top five tips for preparing to study abroad.
1. Research customs and culture
Many places around the world may have different customs to those you’re used to. While these will rarely create cause for concern, it’s nice to know expectations regarding tipping, dress, hand gestures and anything else which may differ from what you’re used to. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to carry out some research into the country you’re going to be moving to.
You’ll find that looking into your study abroad location’s culture, history and politics is not just helpful but will enhance your overall experience when you’re there, too. Your newfound knowledge will help you appreciate the finer things, and you’ll come away having enjoyed your experience in every sense.
2. Sort travel and living arrangements well in advance
Arranging your travel and accommodation is incredibly important, and one of the first things you should do once it’s confirmed that you’ll be studying abroad. Booking flights at least several months in advance is almost sure to guarantee you the best prices as many airlines hike prices up if you search for flights close to your time of travel.
When it comes to securing accommodation, you should look into your options and make your decision based on convenience, comfort and affordability. As a student, it’s likely there’ll be many options available, from halls of residence and off-campus housing to studio flats and homestays. You may have to make certain compromises, so it’s vital that you take some time to consider what the best option is for you.
3. Get your finances in order
It’s in your interest to ensure that you’re financially stable before setting off to study abroad, so try to save as much money as you can in the run-up to your departure. As well as proving useful in emergencies, savings will allow you to take opportunities as and when they arise, for example, if a field trip is organised that is of particular interest to you but you have to pay to attend.
It’s also a good idea to carry out some research into bank accounts before you arrive at your place of study. That way, you will leave with a basic knowledge of your options when the time comes to organise an account for yourself.
4. Make a list of everything you need to take
Think carefully about which essential items you need to take with you, and which things you are better off buying once you have settled into your new accommodation. When you’re making a list of everything you need to pack, always remember to keep luggage allowances in mind – if your suitcase is overweight, it can incur extra costs.
Don’t forget to take the country’s weather into account when it comes to packing clothes. If you look into month-by-month weather averages, you should get a good indication as to what clothes are best to take.
5. Think about the people you’re leaving behind
In the excitement of setting off to begin a new chapter, it can be easy to forget that you’re leaving your family and friends behind. Reassure them that you’ll stay in touch and make an effort phone, video call or visit whenever possible.
Of course, once you’ve promised to do so, you should stand by your word. If your parents aren’t very tech-savvy, help them set up Skype or FaceTime before you leave – it’s a gesture that will probably mean more to them than you think.