Things to Know Before Studying Abroad
Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and interesting experiences in one’s life. But make no mistake; it can also be equally difficult and challenging. So make sure you plan your trip efficiently, even as you prepare to understand and adapt to the cultural differences that you might encounter. Here are some important things to tick off your list:
- Check your passport
A valid passport is one of the key requirements to travel abroad for any purpose, and higher studies are no exception. If you have had your passport for a while, double-check to see when it expires – it should last you through the duration of your course, plus offer some buffer time. Also, ensure that you have enough empty pages in your passport, in case you have travelled abroad a lot. Visa stamps need space.
- Apply in time for a visa
In addition to a passport, you would need a valid visa for your study abroad. Different countries have different visa requirements, so make sure you read up on your chosen destination’s rules and regulations. Some allow you to apply online; many require you to attend an interview in person before the visa is granted. You can contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the country for more information. Visa applications, like passports, can take anywhere between a few days to several months to process, so don’t delay!
- Get your finances in place
As far as banking goes, there are three important things to do: (a) Start an online account. It is perhaps the most convenient way to manage your money while living abroad. Most international travellers and students use their credit or debit card to get cash in the local currency. (b) Inform your bank that you will be out of the country for a certain length of time. Or they may notice unusual activity occurring in your account and flag it on suspicion of fraud. You wouldn’t want to risk getting locked out of your account! (c) To bypass any currency conversion fee and focus only on studies and not to worry about when money transfer will arrive, you need an HDFC Bank ISIC Student ForexPlus Card. Apart from being a universal ID, it provides benefits such as free insurance coverage, discounts, travel, instant cash etc
- Consult a doctor
In the midst of your planning and preparation, you must fit in a doctor’s appointment. The basic procedure involves getting a physical examination before you leave your country of origin. This is to ensure you are in good health. You should also carry copies of your medical records in case of an emergency or a health issue that you might face when you are abroad. The destination country might require your vaccination to be up to date, so get all your booster shots.
If you have a medical condition that requires prescription medicine, it may be a good idea to carry enough to last you during your time abroad. Of course, don’t pack such a huge quantity that you arouse suspicion. Always carry your doctor’s prescription with you, just in case.
- Familiarise yourself with the culture
Invest some time into familiarising yourself with the country where you will be studying. Get to know the basics of its culture, history, economy, geography, and government. What do the locals eat? What do they habitually wear? What local entertainment options are most popular? It’s good to retain your individuality, but there are times when it pays to blend in. So, try to cultivate a positive, inclusive mindset. Another thing you can do is talk to friends or acquaintances who have been to the same country, and earn from their experiences.
- Learn the language
If you’re going to the US or UK, the language may not pose much of a problem. But if it’s (say) Russia or Germany or France, you had better pick up the basics of the local language! Learning a new language can be both challenging and fun. Even if you’re no linguist, a few basic phrases can go a long way in helping you adjust to your new domicile. If you can’t spare the time or money to join a class, make friends online with people who speak the language, or download a language learning app. Listening to podcasts also helps.
- Get a local SIM
You would naturally want to keep in touch with the folks back home. Your Indian SIM card should work abroad, but the costs involved are likely to be unaffordable. Instead of getting an international plan from your home country, it is advisable to buy a local SIM card. You can pay on a monthly basis and save a lot of money in the process. But this can be done only after you have reached your destination and settled in.
And, if you are worried about expenses, you can also avail personal loan. Click here, to know more about it.
No two students will have the same experience. Yours will no doubt be influenced by various factors and forces unique to you, but we hope these pointers will help you while you head abroad for your studies. All the best!
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