You applied with a renowned University for an outstanding Study Abroad program and received the Acceptance Letter! Congratulations!
You are now excited about the new experience and are planning for the big trip. But before you embark on this exciting and eventful trip, there are a few checkpoints to clear first. This article will help you with great study abroad planning tips for a worry-free and superb educational experience.
1. Get a Passport and a Visa
The first step in your study abroad plan is getting a valid passport and visa to travel. If you already have a passport, make sure that it hasn't expired or won’t expire for at least six months of your trip abroad. Check your passport for blank pages if you travel abroad frequently.
New passport applicants can apply at specified State Department passport offices. A passport might take 6-12 months to obtain, so start early. While you can always pay extra for speedier passport procurement, planning is essential if you are going for a year abroad.
If this is your first time applying for a passport, remember to carry with you:
- Your Birth Certificate
- 2 Passport-Size Pictures
- Processing Fees Amount
- Passport Application Form
- Valid Identification (Like Driver’s License)
- If you're renewing an old passport, you may be asked to surrender your old one at the Passport Office.
You will need a visa too, with your passport. Visa requirements vary per country, so check the State Department's website for details. You can also call the country's embassy or consulate to learn about visa requirements and travel restrictions. Like passports, visa applications can take months to process, so apply early!
In some cases, like a summer or short-term study abroad vacation, you may not require a visa. Most countries provide students with a 90-day tourist visa, but this isn't the case with all nations, so double verify what kind of visa you need.
2. Get Check-ups from a Travel Doctor
Confirm your medical fitness by taking pre-trip physicals from your doctor. In case of an emergency, carry a copy of your medical records.
Know the host country's vaccination policies and be vaccinated before you travel. Most programs will advise you on the necessary immunizations, but you may also contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up-to-date disease information.
And if you take prescription drugs for some medical condition, bring enough to last your entire trip (if possible). Get a doctor's note for any medicines you are carrying, and label these prescription medications appropriately to avoid being mistaken for illegal drugs.
3. Insure Your Trip
Trip/travel insurance includes coverage for emergency evacuation and repatriation (let's hope it never happens!). While your health insurance may cover you overseas (not all do), travel insurance covers a few things that health insurance does not, such as:
- Missing Luggage
- Stolen personal items
- Refunds for delayed or canceled flights
- Evacuation in a medical or natural disaster
4. Book a Flight
Finding affordable airline tickets nowadays is a matter of timing and luck. The cost of a flight varies substantially depending on when and where it is purchased.
Find out how flexible flight dates are before buying a cheap fare. You don't want to pay for a new ticket if you decide to stay back a bit longer! You may usually change your ticket for some processing fee, plus the price difference.
Arriving a few days in advance will help you with acclimatization or jet lag, but it may cause issues at immigration.
5. Learn About the Local Customs, Culture, and People
Spend some time getting to know your study abroad destination. Your time spent studying abroad will be more meaningful if you learn your new home's culture, history, geography, economy, politics — everything!
Talk to locals, watch movies, and read about the nation and its culture. It would also help avoid rude, embarrassing follies (such as pointing a people with fingers or making noises while eating).
The State Department publishes brief notes on over 150 nations, which are lovely to start for current information (Wikipedia won’t help everywhere!)
6. Brush Up on The Language
Knowing a few simple phrases in the local language will help you get through the initial few days of adjustment. You can also utilize Duolingo apps and podcasts on your everyday commute to school — every little bit helps!
7. Arrange for the money
Before leaving, you need to take a few financial actions such as:
Creating a web account- Open an online bank account to handle your money overseas easily. Most overseas travelers utilize ATMs, debit, or credit cards for local money.
Notifying your bank and credit card agencies- Notify your existing bank and credit card companies of your study abroad plans, or they might flag it as fraud/absconding.
Bringing additional cash- for the first few days, you should carry some walk-around money in the host country's currency, and the ATMs at the airport will come in handy here. Finding an ATM or bank should be simple.
8. Pack Up (but Sensibly!)
Pack light! Check with your airline about luggage allowances to avoid fines. Checking two bags will slow you down and make your end-of-study-abroad trip more difficult. Please note that many of the products you may want to pack will be available overseas.
Other helpful packing tips:
- Bring chargers for electronics
- Limit yourself to 3 pairs of shoes.
- Buy towels/sheets upon arrival instead of packing them.
- Note that no blow-dryer or flat irons are allowed on flights.
- Bring enough toiletries for the first two weeks and stock up when you arrive.
Don't forget to bring photos, recipes, and other memorabilia to help you feel at home. Bring a journal or notebook to record your study abroad experience. You might also give new acquaintances or host families small souvenirs from your home life.
9. Cell Phones and Home Communication
How else will you tell your family and friends about your incredible trip? Most students communicate with friends and family by cell phone or laptop.
Don't get an overseas phone plan as they are unsustainable and pricey when you will be abroad for longer than a week. Instead, purchase a local SIM card and a pay-as-you-go package (the norm in most non-U.S. countries) which gives you a local number to give to new pals! Most students use particular study abroad mobile calling plans.
If you purchased your phone after 2015, you might not need to unlock it for foreign use. Recently, a law was established requiring unlocked phones. If your phone isn't already unlocked, you can ask your carrier to do so.
Texting is usually free, but calling isn't. So, if you want to talk, use WhatsApp or Skype. Get your parents an account before you leave.
Hiring an Education Consultant for the Trip:
Planning study abroad trips can be complicated, with so many vital steps to take and a wide range of crucial information to check. There are always risks of forgetting some documentation or skipping some critical steps. In such a fast-evolving global situation, it's tough to follow up on the latest updates.
If you feel overwhelmed with all these activities, you can always contact an Education Consultant in Dubai and ask them to help you with all the formalities. These consultants have years of experience in providing these services and are constantly updated on all information that might slip by you.
While studying abroad, you will undoubtedly meet people with opposing views on time and space. Be ready to learn and observe without judging. These very same contrasts will surely increase your cultural awareness. While you can never be fully prepared for your new life on arrival, we hope these suggestions will help you get at least started!