Studying abroad can be both exciting and terrifying. While you get the chance to explore a new country, meet new friends and experience a new culture, you also have to leave any sort of familiarity behind. This is why you've got to prepare for your trip, regardless of what country you're moving to (now more than ever with COVID). I remember getting my 5th...yes 5th choice when applying for study abroad but I took the chance nonetheless! I would have deeply regretted it if I didn't because it helped shape me to be the person I am today. As cheesy as everybody gets about their study abroad, saying that they've 'found themselves', it rings true for most. That's not because everybody goes on a spiritual journey and changes their entire life while abroad, but it is usually one of the first times people go study in a different country, sometimes even continent. It's one of the first times you may be in a place where nobody speaks your first language, or where the climate is so different than what you're used to (I spent most of my time freezing in -20C weather in Canada on my year abroad), or just the first time you took a leap of faith and moved away from everyone you knew. Either way, whether you're excited or scared (both are valid!), here are 5 things you need to do before studying abroad!
1. Check travel restrictions
While this would've been true before, it is now even more important to check travel restrictions when moving abroad. Can any of your family accompany you on your move? What sort of documents do you need to at the border? How many (if any) COVID tests do you need to enter the country? Do you need to quarantine upon arrival? If so make sure to also factor that in before booking your flights. Keep an eye out on your home country's, your final destination country's and even any countries' you may have layovers in rules and regulations as these constantly change.
You can use the IATA Travel Centre map which regularly updates all of the world's travel restrictions to see what restrictions your country is imposing.
2. Book flexible/refundable tickets where possible
Unfortunately, as we all know, 2021 has not been the most predictable year. Therefore, try paying a little extra if you can to book flexible tickets before studying abroad. With restrictions constantly changing, it's worth having flexible or refundable flight, bus and hotel tickets to ensure you have piece of mind if anything suddenly changes. That way you know all you need to do is reschedule your tickets and know you haven't lost any money.
3. Check your new university's grading system
Inform yourself of the requirements your home university has for you to pass the year while abroad. For some universities all you need to get is a 50% to pass your year abroad but for others, grades may be more important. This all gets more confusing if you're moving to a university with different grading systems such as in the US. Check your new university's grading system before attending and translate those grades into your home university's system. You can use uni grade calculators such as UniMate to make sure you're always on top of your marks even when enjoying your year abroad.
4. Sort out your bank accounts
Before jetting off, make sure to tell your bank you're flying abroad to avoid them thinking somebody has stolen your credit cards and is using them across the world. They will block your account and you will be left confused. Yes, this has happened to me. No, it's not fun. You'll need to also figure out what costs there are to using your current cards whilst abroad and if you want to open up a new bank account in your new country or not. One solution is to use online banks such as Revolut or Monzo to save you the hassle of having a bank account in a country you might not return to but it's up to you to see what works best for you.
5. Connect with students
The best way to know what you should prepare for is to talk to students who have already done a year abroad or currently go to the university you'll be attending. Your study abroad advisors should be able to put you in touch with students who attended the same university as you if you have any questions you'd like to ask them. Otherwise, the internet is filled with forums where students are eager to help others with their experiences so you can rest assured that your questions will be answered! For example, Reddit is a great place for meeting students and asking questions.
We hope these few tips help you out whilst preparing to study abroad. While you're here, check out our previous post on our Top Money Saving Tips for Students and the one before that on