Before you commence your studies overseas, you need to take care of a list of things to know exactly what you are getting yourself into and avoid last-minute hassles, a fairly smooth-sailing experience and lesser stress in general.
1. ALL Documents: This is the first thing you want to start working on as irrespective of which university you go to, it is a good idea to have all your education and work experience related documents up-to-date. Having a recent resume, a generic statement of purpose (SOP) template and letter of recommendations from your previous educational institute will come in handy. Apart from these, make sure you have a passport that doesn’t expire in the next 6 months.
2. Know your course, university and area: It is surprising how the most obvious things are overlooked when prepping for starting your higher education abroad journey. Look at your course requirements and details beforehand. You might be eligible for credit transfers or exemptions which can allow you to do different or more subjects than the standard courses listed. Explore this opportunity to make the most out of your degree. Next comes understanding the global standing of your university which will reduce the fear of not landing a job after you complete your course. Understanding the local area is equally important to know your opportunities and competition. These three things must coincide and align with your interests /inclinations or at the least you should understand the dynamics of it all so that you set realistic expectations.
3. Finances: International education is a great experience but still expensive for many. Find ways you can reduce your financial load by applying for scholarships, access information relating to education loans, government grants or private sponsors to see if you are eligible for any of these. Calculate the total expenses you expect to incur during your stay and leave some buffer for the unexpected. Even after starting your course, seek advise from your university’s financial help department and avail part-time work opportunities. To manage your expenses, you’d obviously need a bank account and it is better to open an account online before you reach to get one thing out of the way.
4. Travel & Insurance: Try booking your flights as soon as possible and know the medical requirements in your destination country. There are places which require you to maintain health covers throughout your stay period and get medical examinations done. These procedures take time and you must apportion a considerable amount of time to take care of these requirements.
5. Accommodation: Talk to people already living and studying in your university or the city you are moving to and sort out your temporary accommodation. There are plenty places that offer student accommodations near universities and these can be your first choice if you absolutely do not know anybody. But this will be your chance to form contacts with the locals, so take the chance and book a temporary accommodation with a local preferably.
6. Customs, Law, culture, food and vibe: You should be aware of the rules and regulation and the culture of the place lest you want to experience culture shock. A major part of international studies is embracing other cultures, expanding your horizons, acknowledging that you might not know everything yet having an open mind to learn is all that you need.
7. Starting a life: You will be starting a new life in a new place, so you should pack accordingly to accommodate essentials. At the same time, don’t go overboard and carry things that you can easily buy locally.
Bonus Point: Analysis Paralysis – You can plan and make multiple checklists yet there will be certain things that you can’t just predict. Remember this fact and just mentally brace yourself for any challenge in general. You can always learn as you go but doing your own little research makes you aware and mentally ready which is the first thing you need to tick-off on the list of things you need to check before you choose to study abroad.