Going to university is an exciting, pivotal time in your life, during which you’ll get to deepen your expertise and experience in your chosen field. However, studying internationally can present challenges, and for this reason, it’s crucial to make sure that you are fully equipped for your move abroad. To help make sure all of your bases are covered, we’ve put together a checklist of five ways to prepare for life as an international student.
Get your documents in order
The first step to preparing for international student life is to make sure that you have all the documents that you require in order. The kinds of immigration documents that you need to obtain will vary between countries, but generally, a student visa will be top of the list.
The application process for this can take several months, so it’s a good idea to get started as soon as your place at university is confirmed.
Alongside your application, you’ll usually need to submit evidential documents such as your university offer in writing, as well as any financial information to show the authorities how you plan on supporting yourself during your time in the country. To ensure that this process is completed punctually, it’s a good idea to check government guidelines prior to beginning the visa application process.
Make sure you’ve got insurance
When it comes to getting insured, you’ll usually be advised to obtain at least a basic level of cover for your personal belongings, as well as more crucial travel and health insurance. Without adequate insurance coverage, it will be difficult to get medical help should you need it, and should any health issues arise, you may find that you have to fork out a large sum of money for treatment expenses.
When you purchase your insurance, you’ll need to make sure that the country you’ll be residing in is covered by the policy. On top of this, some countries will require you to have your insurance in place before entering the country as an international student – others will need you to use one of their own approved insurance schemes in order for your cover to be considered valid.
Prepare your finances
Having a financial plan in place when you begin your studies is critical, in order to ensure that you will be able to pay for your course, your housing, and other amenities and essentials. Often, fees for international students will be higher than those for domestic students, so to be safe, try to avoid assuming that what someone else is paying at university is what you will be paying, too.
In a foreign country, you don’t always know how difficult it will be to find work – and if you do, it may be that your student visa only allows you to work a certain number of hours per week, potentially leaving you with little room in your student budget should you face any unexpected costs. For this reason, it’s a good idea to look into the loans that will be available to you as an international student, as well as any government funding that you qualify for. For some universities you may have the opportunity to apply for sponsorship or a scholarship which will often cover most, if not all of your fees.
Once you’ve prepared your finances for your studies abroad, you’ll want to wrap up any financial commitments at home, too. This could include informing your energy suppliers or relevant government agencies of your move, in order to avoid any unexpected bills and taxes.
Educate yourself on the country’s laws and customs
Moving abroad may require you to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture, and while this might be a welcomed change, it can be difficult to come to terms with following new rules and regulations. It is important to do so, however, both to show respect for your new home, and to keep yourself safe.
Students who enjoy an active social life outside of their studies may be shocked to find that not all countries will allow them to partake in the same activities as they do at home – a great example of this is countries where the consumption of alcohol is illegal. This shouldn’t deter you from having an enriching educational experience abroad – however, it does illustrate the importance of being mindful of your behaviours in a new country.
Ideally, you’ll want to get a basic grasp of the language of your chosen destination so that you can travel with ease, and keep up to speed with what is expected of you – this will make for a smoother transition from living home to away.
Lastly, ask your university
In order to take full advantage of this educational opportunity, an international student needs to feel safe, comfortable and in control of their new and unfamiliar circumstances. Ultimately, your chosen university will want you to be able to enrol with ease, and will be well-equipped with all the necessary tools and information to provide necessary support, guidance and expertise.
Disclaimer – The views expressed in this blog are those of a third party and do not reflect the views and opinions of the SecureMyScholarship team.