Use these last tips from international student advisors from around the world to make sure you’re really ready to study abroad.
It can be scary to get ready to move to a new country and live there. Even after you’ve picked a university, gotten a spot, and set up your visa, you still have a lot of work to do.
One of the hardest things you’ll have to do is decide what to bring. Even though it can be tempting to try to pack your whole life into a few suitcases, you will have to choose what to bring and what to leave behind.
“It’s best to wait until you get there to buy warm winter clothes, and you don’t need to bring sheets, bedclothes, towels, or home goods because they can be bought at discount stores for reasonable prices, and you won’t have to pay for extra luggage,” says Joanna Barker, director of the International Office at the University of Adelaide.
She also says that you should find out what will and won’t work in the country where you’re studying: “Bring a laptop, but don’t bring any other electronics. There may be different plugs in [your study destination] than in your home country.”
The right paperwork is very important, says Lynsey Finnemore, an admissions and events officer at the University of Durham’s International Office.
“Students must bring their visa and photocopies of important papers like passports, debit cards, etc. You should also pack the papers you used to apply for a visa. Extra forms of ID are helpful, and photos the size of a passport can be useful.”
She agrees with Barker about bedding and linens, as well as warm clothes. However, she suggests that you bring some clothes that you can layer, especially if you’re going somewhere with a colder climate than where you usually live.
You’ll also need a little bit of the local currency to get started, as well as any prescriptions for important medicines and contact lenses, if you wear them.
When it comes to illnesses, Barker tells you to take steps to avoid homesickness, which is one of the most common.
“Students should bring things that are important to them and remind them of home.” She adds, though, that it might be best to leave behind valuable jewelry and anything else that can’t be replaced. It’s better to be without them for a while than to risk losing them forever.
Sort out your home.
You should also make sure to tie up any loose ends at home before you leave. Finnemore says it is very important to take care of anything that could cost you money.
“Before you leave, you should call your home bank to let them know you’ll be out of the country. This will keep your cards from being frozen. Plans for cell phones should also be dropped.”
She also says that one of the first things you should do when you get there is set up a new phone contract and open a local bank account.
Barker says that making sure you have a roof over your head is very important.
“Students should find housing ahead of time, if possible for the whole year but at least for the first few weeks.” She says that if you need a place to stay temporarily, your university can help.
She also says that you should give yourself time to get used to the climate and attend orientation events, which most universities at your destination will have before you start your course.
Many universities have programs set up to help international students as soon as they get there. If they do, like the University of Adelaide, you should tell them as much as you can about when, where, and how you will be getting there.
Life in a new culture
You should also do more than just study the material. Paul Forster, who runs the Global Students Office at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, says that you should be ready for differences between your home country and the country you are going to.
“I would tell students to prepare for their studies by learning more about the country where they will be living. I think that most students do some of that already. But in addition to the weather and cultural differences, you should learn about the country’s history, education system, and ways of teaching and learning.
He goes on to say why this kind of research is important: “Knowing the country’s history helps to explain how and why people act the way they do.
“Each country has its own way of teaching, and students from that country will bring a different set of experiences to their education than students from other countries. Knowing something about them before you get there can really help you settle in.
But, says Finnemore, if you take the time to do this, you’ll be glad you did. “This will be a very big change in your life, but you will have the amazing chance to live in a foreign country and learn more about other cultures. This is a very rich and exciting experience, and it’s likely to be the most exciting time of your life!”