A study abroad program is, no doubt, one of the most important things of your career as a student. Why? Get a look here to discover the reasons to begin this incredible journey.
Broadly, it’s a positive experience that will bring you so many beautiful opportunities and moments, but you don’t have to forget that is not as easy as it looks and it might take a little effort to adapt to the new life, to survive the language barriers, to set up all the things in order to settle in, to manage your money, etc...well, it’s adult life!
No worries, here we are to help you with our personal and professional know-how, providing you the best tips to study abroad to make the most of your time!
Whether you are an adventurous person or not, studying abroad is a must-do experience that needs you to be not only bold, but also well organized as it requires quite a lot of planning.
So, how do you prepare yourself to study abroad? Let’s have a look at these basic steps.
· Apply for a Student Visa and a valid passport. Make sure your passport isn’t expired and that is not going to expire within the next months, when you’ll be abroad and you’ll need to go back home. If you’re an European citizen and your study abroad program takes place in Europe (e.g. Erasmus+), you don’t need any of this documentation, only the ones required by your host university.
· Get a travel insurance. Having a reliable insurance policy that covers your health or accidents (from little ones such as theft to more serious ones) is truly important.
· Medical visits. Before a year or a semester abroad, you should check your entire health status - do at least the basic tests to make sure you’re okay before leaving. Then, bring in your suitcase a copy of the medical records and, once abroad, you might also seek for medical assistance for young internationals.
· Look for an accommodation. We suggest to set up a budget and start looking for your housing solution in advance, since many other young people will move abroad and you might lose that accommodation that really fits your needs. Many people also set up a trip some months before their starting date, in order to search for it in person. We strongly believe that the best option for international students is to rent a room in a shared flat, since it’s cheaper and you have less responsibilities - make sure everything is included: wifi, maintenance and cleaning service. And, the most important thing, here’s the aim of your experience abroad: coliving with people from all over the world, whose cultures are far from yours, with different languages and habits, will make you look at your life from new perspectives. Last but not least, it’s way more fun!!
· Buy an airplane ticket. Once you know the day your study abroad program starts, you should buy the plane ticket. We recommend to arrive in the host country some days prior to your start date, in order recovery from the jet-lag (if you come from another continent), adjust to the new environment and enjoy some free days to discover your new city.
· Have a language skills refresh. You don’t need to be a native speaker, but it’s important to know the basis of the local language, the most used phrases, in order to survive during the first days of the settle in, since not all the local folks speak English. How can you do this? Ask for help to some friends that speak the language fluently, download apps, watch Youtube videos or enroll to some classes.
· Get interested in the local culture, people and traditions. Getting to know and become familiar with the social and cultural environment of the host country. By watching movies or reading some brief overviews you can search info about the economy, history, geography and the most important traditions.
· Manage your money. There are some few important things to do in order to deal with your finances when you are studying abroad (especially if your country has a different currency from the destination country). First, open an online bank account, then tell to your bank company that you’re going to live abroad for a while; this is important because they use to block cards when they records many expenses in a foreign country, thinking about a fraud. Lastly, bring some extra cash with you (the airport is a good place for cash withdrawal): if your cards don’t work, you will be safe and covered for the first days.
· Keep staying in touch. If you don’t have an international plan, your data won’t be available in the host country. You can both choose to extend your plan to an international one (this is a little overpriced) or buy a new, cheap phone and a prepaid plan.
· Get ready and motivated! Yeah, it might be frightening, but we promise you it’s going to be worth it. Make sure you have proper goodbyes with your family and friends, celebrate your departure and only think about the extreme excitement of the new adventure waiting for you. This challenge is going to change your life forever and you don’t have to miss any chance to increase your personal and professional growth. Being independent and responsible, meeting new friends, studying hard, taking care of home and finances, travelling, learning new things. You will love every single thing!
Fasten your seatbelt and good luck!
Beatrice, an italian passionate about coffee (and food) that fell in love with Madrid, its international vibes and its latin rhythms. She's a dreamer that loves telling stories and travels through her photos.