Did you decide to study abroad? That's a huge challenge! It makes you excited, but scared at the same time. You can't just keep relaxing until the day of your flight comes. You have some things to prepare, but you mainly need to prepare yourself.
We'll give you tips on how to prepare for a new year of your education abroad.
1. Get Your Documents Ready
You have to do this as soon as possible. Check the passport. You think it's valid, but check in any case. If you have to extend it, do it without waiting for the last day. Do you need a visa to go to this country? If you can't find clear information, call the student services at the university to ask if you need a student visa and how you can get it. If you're a U.S. citizen, you can find passport and visa information at the Travel.State.gov website.
2. Sort Out the Accommodation
This is one of the most important issues that student exchange programs impose: where will you live? Your home university will offer advice. The university you go to will probably support accommodation for international students, but you have to make sure that will be the case. Are you going to get a dorm room? Maybe you'd like to get roommates and rent an apartment? Whatever the case is, you need to sort out the accommodation issue at least two months before you get there.
3. Plan the Living Expenses
Numbeo gives you a great tool that lets you estimate the cost of living. You'll have expenses for books, commuting, food, water, going out, visiting sights and museums, and much more. These expenses can vary greatly from country to country. You don't want to be unpleasantly surprised with the high prices when you get there. Prepare and plan your budget in advance.
4. Get Informed about the Academic Writing Standards
According to Jeff Richards, an educational expert from Best Essays, this is the biggest issue that international students face: "They think they can continue writing essays in the way they did at their home university. The standards may be similar, but they may also be very different. An international student is graded by the same criteria used for domestic students. You have to follow the standards of academic writing if you want to succeed."
Do a research to find out how the students in that country write. You can get this information at the university you'll go to, but you can also join online forums and ask.
5. Read the Course Guides
How do you know you'll choose the right courses when you get there? You can't just go with the flow and opt for courses that everyone else is taking. The university's website probably offers information on the curriculums. Read it! Browse through different courses quickly, so you'll get an idea of your schedule before the term starts.
6. Learn about the Country
This will be a completely different culture. You can avoid learning about it before you go if you want to be surprised, but that might be a problem: you'll experience a culture shock. You won't know how to act in different situations, since the social norms will be strange to you. It's better to know what you expect; that way you can fit in effortlessly. Learn about the country's culture, geography, history, government, economy, and political situation. Thanks to Google, you can easily get access to such information.
7. Make Contacts
Can you find a Facebook group of international students going to that university? Maybe you can create one? Try to make contact with domestic students, too. The university probably has a Facebook page. Become active in the comments, but don't spam. That will make you part of the community before you even get there.
8. Start Looking through the Textbooks
You already know what courses you'll be taking? Great! You can explore the curriculum before the term starts. Fortunately, many universities offer textbooks in electronic formats. If that's not the case, you can try to find the books online. Once you get them, explore the material. That will prepare you for the lectures, so you'll understand the professors better.
What exactly do you want to achieve within this year you'll spend abroad? Your goal is to learn new things, get familiar with a foreign culture, meet more people, and make memories for life. Focus on these goals. When you get there, the locals will want to show you where the best parties are. That's great, but don't get dragged into that lifestyle for an entire life. Make a list of goals and stay true to it.
10. Plan How You'll Use Your Free Time
You won't be able to go to your local yoga or fitness studio. Your favorite bar will be far, far away. What will you do? You can't just stay in the dorm room. Plan what activities you'll engage in. Try to find information about fitness halls, clubs, and anything else of your interest in the area you'll be going to.
You'll fit in the new environment effortlessly when you know what to expect. Follow the tips above to prepare, and you won't be shocked when you get there.