Top 20 Things You Should Do Before You Go For Studying Abroad

With the increasing globalization and connectivity between different parts of the world, the number of students migrating from one country to another for higher studies has also increased significantly. Every year thousands of students migrate from one country to another (usually from the developing to developed nations) to study in various universities.

Going abroad for studying isn't easy. If you have any doubts, ask that student who's planning to do it. There are just so many things to take care of. After all, you aren't going to the school next door...you are leaving your country. The "things to do before leaving" list for such students is huge.

This article lists 20 such things which every student should take care of before he leaves for studying abroad. If you are a student, you should bookmark or print this out immediately.

1. Check the documents

Documents like visa, passport etc are the most important part of your luggage. Make sure you've got all the relevant identity and college related documents in place. This could include the following.

1. Passport
2. Visa
3. Course approval forms / Letter of acceptance from the university
4. Test results like those of TOEFL etc
5. Student cards and other identity cards
6. Medical and health related documents
7. Insurance
8. Flight tickets

So make sure you've got all the above documents in place before you board your flight.

2. Accommodation

Don't ignore the task of finding accommodation and don't assume that you can easily get it once you reach there. It's a new land and the hostel rules/accommodation rules might be different. Make sure you contact the college authorities to see if there are on-campus hostels and whether space is available for you.

Also get in touch with the student community and Youth Hostel Association for the same.

3. Money

It's all about the money, honey. So get your finances in order. Check the following before leaving.

1. Does your credit card work in that country ? Will be you be charged an extra interest if you use it there ? Contact the bank to know these things.
2. Does your bank have a branch in that city ? How would you you take out cash there ?
3. What is the currency exchange process ?
4. What are travelers checks and how you could make use of them ?

Get answers to all the above questions before you leave.

4. Health and Medicine

This is very important but ignored by a majority of students. Make sure you know the rules of health insurance in that place and also whether your health insurance works there. Take a first-aid box along with you which has all the important medicines.

If you take some kind of medicine regularly due to certain illness, make sure you buy that in bulk and also inquire regarding its availability at medicine stores in that city.

5. Other insurances

Health insurance has been covered in the aforementioned point. Now what about life insurance and any other such insurance policies which you've got. Do they work in that country ? Get that information.

6. Visa Policies

It's very important to be aware of the visa policies and what kind of freedom does your student visa grant you. It's also important to keep your visa in a safe place because that's your permit to live in that country for a particular period of time.

7. Location Map

Don't just keep dreaming about the place and its environment. This is the information age. You've got tools like Google Maps and Google Earth. Plus there is the awesome Google Street View. Use them to get location details of your college.

Also, you could use Google Maps to get an idea about the roads and landmarks in the city. It'll help.

8. Do Some Social Networking

It is time to use Facebook and MySpace to get some useful stuff done. Use these and other prominent social networks to find students in the city and your college. Contact them, make friends and interact with them. They are the ones who would help you if you get into a problem there. So start making relationships before you land in their country.

9. Check Student Community

Many colleges and universities have a vibrant and active student community who are there to take care of the grievances and needs of students. They also help new students in resolving issues and getting things done.

Check if your college has such a community and if they maintain a website. If they do, you can check it out and also contact the student President regarding any queries you might have.

10. Culture Knowledge

" When in Rome, do as Romans do ", is easier said than done. It is difficult to adapt and get used to new traditions and customs. So, to prevent a culture shock, make sure you do a good bit of research into the culture of that country and to what extent it is different from yours.

11. Cuisine knowledge

Another important thing to do. Unless you come from a country that has similar culture and eating habits, food could be a major concern. The best way to battle that is to acquire as much knowledge as you can about the different cuisines available.

Although nowadays you can find all kinds of food in each part of the world, it's good to know what you'll usually get for breakfast and lunch in college, and if you can't have it then what could be the alternatives to that.

12. Youth Hostel Card

I talked about Youth Hostel Association in a point above. Many countries have their own such associations that help students with accommodation and other necessary stuff. It's good to get acquainted with such organizations, join them and get an i-card for the same.

13. Emergency Contact Information

Extremely important. No matter how responsible you think you are, don't forget that you are leaving your homeland and going to a different destination altogether. If some unfortunate incident happens with you, people should know who to call for help.

Make sure you provide your emergency contact information to college authorities, hostel authorities and to friends with whom you'll stay. Also carry it in your wallet if possible.

14. Latest News

It'll be good if you can go through the latest happenings in that country and learn a bit about the political situation there, sports, films etc. It doesn't harm if you know beforehand which team won the super bowl last month (if you are going to the US that is).

15. Check Airline Luggage

Do you know that different airlines have different limits on the total weight of the luggage you carry. If it exceeds the limit, you may be asked to pay a fee or you may not be allowed to take that extra stuff. So it is better to know it beforehand. Here is a great site called Luggage Limits that'll help you with the same.

16. Learn About Saving Costs

Frugality is what a student life could be associated with. And that's what you need to learn too. Saving costs would always help and let you have the extra cash in your pocket. Think about the different ways you could do it. One example - Use Skype to call friends and family in home country instead of using the phone.

17. Start Learning the Language

The idea here is to not try and become the expert in the language. Just try and learn the important words and their pronunciation. Like, if you are in France, it'll always help if you know how to say, "Which way is this place" in French.

18. Shop for Clothes & Other Useful Stuff

Yeah, this is the good part of the process. Shopping for things you'll need and things you think you'll need. Well, it's a big occasion so go for it. Plus you don't know how much things might cost there so good to buy some stuff and then leave.

19. Get Advice

Get advice from family, elders, friends and people who have stayed in that country where you are going. While you can learn and make yourself aware of a lot of things by researching on the internet, only the person who has stayed there can tell you the nitty-gritties of living a life there.

20. Be Happy & Cheerful

It's a lot of work. Schedules, things to do, things to buy, people to meet, people to talk etc etc. Don't let the stress take over. Do everything with a positive frame of mind. It's a new journey of life and you gonna have a lot of fun too. So enjoy, stay happy and be cheerful. Leave the country with a smile and land in the foreign land with a laughter. :)


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