Depending on what type of person you are, the idea of studying abroad will either excite you or terrify the life out of you. Hopefully, because you are reading this, you fall into the former category of people. As you get older and wiser, you will realise that some opportunities only present themselves once in a lifetime – you need to learn to identify these gems and grab onto them with everything you’ve got.
If you are lucky enough to be able to study abroad, there are a few things that you need to do before making that decision.
Find A Country
Studying abroad is a vague concept. You must do your research on exactly where it is that you want to live and study first. This decision won’t just be about which country seems like it would be the most fun to live in, this is an important life decision, and you have to take it seriously.
Your first step needs to be to choose a country based on real-world aspects like affordability, entrance requirements, and language barriers. For example, you can’t study in Russia if you only speak English – that’s not going to work out well for you. Your chosen country will largely depend on what you want to study, like playing a musical instrument for example.
Consider The Climate
If you have ever lived in a hot and sunny climate and then moved to one that has sub-zero temperatures for most of the year, you are probably vehemently agreeing with this point. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into in terms of weather because we all have non-negotiables when it comes to dealing with weather. Some people might not mind a rainy climate but will abjectly object to living anywhere near a tornado belt, which seems fair to me.
As with most things in life, planning for the future will serve you well. You need to understand that there are certain costs that you can budget for when it comes to moving overseas, like international insurance from GeoBlue, but there are also unforeseen costs that you will have to contend with from time to time. “Unforeseen” doesn’t have to mean that you haven’t budgeted for them; these expenses usually just require some kind of savings pocket for you to fall back on in a pinch.
The best advice anyone will ever give you is to expect the best, but plan for the worst.
Factor In The Cost Of Living
Living overseas can be insanely expensively, depending on what country you come from. Taking currency from a developing country and exchanging it for a powerhouse currency, like the British Pound, can completely and utterly destroy your budget (and your soul). Make sure that you fully understand the cost of living there going in; that way you will avoid any unnecessary tears. Find out how much rent, food, and utilities will cost you every month and ensure that you have a solid plan to pay for these.
Some countries, especially the ones with the most exciting cultures, have strange food on offer. Do your homework before leaving to make sure there aren’t any unpleasant surprises when you get there.
Food is of the utmost importance if you have special dietary requirements based on health, religion, or culture. Some countries will have strict religious policies for certain meats and animal products, so be sure to know what you are signing up for before you go.
Research The Culture
Ask anyone what their favorite part about travelling is, and most of them will have the same answer – experiencing a new culture. Every country is unique, and they are all made up of different people who contribute to the cultural heritage of that country. Culture can be an immersive experience, but you need to be prepared to live outside of your comfort zone to have a great time whilst studying there.
Do some research beforehand so you aren’t going in blind, but you must understand that your experience might be different to the experiences shared by others.
Stay Connected To Home
Studying abroad doesn’t come without certain hardships. Being away from your family, especially if it is your first time, can be much harder than you could ever prepare for. Many students crack from this type of homesickness, and they end up giving up. There is no way to avoid feeling homesick – what you can do to make it easier is to stay connected to friends and family back home.
Set up weekly video calling sessions because those will help ease the pain of not being at home. That homesick feeling will never go away, but it will get easier over time – especially if you stay in the loop with what is going on back at home.