Nowadays it became very common to travel to another part of the world in your student years. It can be an exchange for a couple of months or a full-time study that will last for some years, in both cases it is essential to be well prepared for it, before you start your studies abroad.
Where do you want to study?
First thing to pick is probably the place you want to go. Maybe you already have a specific country in mind? Or even a specific city? That’s great, but it’s also good to consider many aspects of your choice. For example, if you want to study in Paris, France (because of all the famous places you know from the movies) but you don’t speak French, it might not be the best idea. Another thing you should consider is the university, where you will be studying. If you’re going for an exchange, your home university probably has a list of partner universities that you can consider, but if you are planning to study full-time and manage it all by yourself, it’s good to wisely choose the educational institution. Take some time to do some research to see, which curses are offered in different universities. Maybe even in Paris there are some courses in English? Try to find out about the teachers, the location of the university, the facilities that it offers to foreign students etc.
A place to live in
If you are decided on a specific place to study, you will also need a place to stay. That’s why it’s also good to choose the university depending on its location and on whether it offers accommodation for students or not. If not, try to find a place to stay before you leave. It is not easy to start your studies if you have to stay at a hotel and desperately look for any student room to stay at, when the academic year have already started. It’s also a good idea to start looking for a room very early. When the new study year is approaching, a lot of people are looking for rooms or apartments.
Even if you have to pay for a month more, just to have a room booked for you, it might be a better option than stay homeless after you arrive. A good thing to do is to try and find somebody from your homeland that is studying in the place of your destination. They could advise you on how to look for an accommodation or maybe even let you stay on their couch for couple of nights until you find something.
Manage your own budget
While you live abroad, you will have to manage your finances on your own. If until this moment you depended on your parents’ incomes, it could be tricky to manage your budget yourself. But don’t worry, you’ll get there. It is a good idea to have some savings (maybe you could do a summer job to feel saver in the first few months of your studies abroad?). You could also find out about possibilities of student loans in your country of destination. The system is different in every country. The university of your choice will probably help you get the information.
Paying with your own credit card abroad might be unfavorable, so do some research about the best national banks in the place you are heading to, to start a new account there and avoid paying extra charges. Another thing you should take care of is a health insurance. Again, every country handles its health care differently, so take some time to find out, how can you get help in case of sickness or emergency.
Living on your own
Living abroad means also living on your own. It has its advantages, like learning the responsibility and self-reliance, but it might be difficult at the beginning, if you used to live in your family home. What you can do to prepare is firstly to learn some stuff about living on your own, for example how to cook simple dishes (trust me, you don’t want to eat instant noodles every day…), or how to fix a broken tap. Secondly, make sure you stay in good relations with your loved ones. Check if the Skype is working, look if there is a time distance between your family home and the country you are going to live in. Especially at the beginning, when you still don’t have many friends, you will need the support of your close relatives.
Do you know, where are you going?
Lastly, it’s good to do a little research about the country you are going to live in. Try to learn a few phrases in their language, see if there are places you would want to visit during your stay, read a bit about their history, culture and habits. Then it would be easier to feel at ease there, even if at the beginning it might be hard. In the end of the day, studying abroad is a wonderful adventure and despite all the difficulties, you will always remember the time you spent abroad as the best days of your live.