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Things International Students Should Know Before Planning Studying Abroad

Before embarking on your life-changing study abroad journey, you must keep a few things in mind. We aim to make your study abroad journey as informative as possible. Even though you can't be fully prepared, these tips should help you get started.

You are excited about the prospect of departing after being accepted into the study abroad program of your choice. However, the exciting news is also accompanied by a cloud of uncertainty about what’s next. You’re not the only one who experienced this! Almost every student is experiencing the same thing.

Here are some things international students should know before planning to study abroad to ease their panic.

1. Apply for a Passport and Visa

Entry into foreign countries requires proper documentation and identification. The country you wish to visit, your visit’s purpose, and your stay’s duration will determine the entry requirements. Throughout your study abroad journey, as an international student, you’ll need your passport to process your visa application. To avoid any hiccups in your study abroad experience, you should consider applying for a passport as early as possible.

Passport Seva Kendra is the only official site that offers a process for Indian passports. It takes up to seven working days for a passport to be done under the normal category and two working days for a passport under the Tatkal category.

A visa is a document provided by the country where you will travel. It permits you to enter the country. Visa requirements vary from country to country. You need to prepare the visa file as per the country of your study abroad programs.

The student visa application requires a letter of acceptance from the educational institution. Be sure to apply for your visa early so it can be processed on time. A student visa is usually issued by Embassies or Consulate 120 days before the registration date of the study abroad program.

2. Visit a travel health specialist

Before departing for your study abroad program, consult a travel health specialist or your healthcare provider. Typically 30–45 days before the departure is recommended. In addition to vaccines and medicines, they can provide health information relevant to your destination. It is highly recommended that you keep up-to-date with the travel health requirements of your destination country in light of the current global health emergency situation.

You can get more specific advice and recommendations if you discuss any health concerns or history with your provider.

3. Travel, Health, and Accident Insurance

In the event of an emergency evacuation or repatriation, it is a wise idea to have a health and accident insurance policy. It is equally important to have travel insurance in addition to health insurance. Travel insurance can protect you from certain things, such as the policy will cover flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage, personal property theft, and evacuation in case of medical emergencies and natural disasters.

4. Buy a Plane Ticket

Booking a flight ticket can be overwhelming when it involves checking the country’s laws and baggage requirements; contacting travel agents or booking directly from the airline’s website can be helpful.

If you plan to buy a flight ticket yourself, Skyscanner and Google Flights will help you scan the cheapest available dates to travel in the future. In addition, do check with the airlines for Student discounts.

To save the max, you can also check with the credit card companies that offer major cashback or free upgrades.

The best time to arrive is a week before the start of your program and not more than that. Though arriving way too early will help you settle in a new environment, in some countries, immigration may not allow you to arrive more than seven days before the start of the course.

A direct flight is undoubtedly a good idea, but if there is no direct flight, you must check the transit visa requirements for the country. For instance, as per the recent changes, traveling through an airport in the Schengen area may require a Schengen Airport Transit Visa, even if you are changing the flight on the same day of arriving and not leaving the airport. In addition, Schengen Airport Authorities need third-country nationals to meet specific requirements based on their citizenship and residence status. However, the condition keeps changing. Therefore, staying in a loop will help you prepare in advance.

Recently, Canada Immigration has also introduced a transit visa system for Indian passport holders (the traveler must pay the Biometric fees of CAD 85). Therefore if you are flying to the USA, avoid having a layover in Canada. It is better to pay a little more for the flight than to have a visa process hassle. Furthermore, due to the war scenario between Russia and Ukraine, Canada is giving first preference to the refugees to have Canadian passports; thus, the visa process can be longer than expected.

5. Research the culture, holidays, local etiquette, political issues, and people of your study abroad destination

Take the time to get to know the country where you will study abroad. The more you know about your soon-to-be home country’s culture, people, festivals, history, economy, geography, and government, you will gain a greater sense of purpose from your study abroad experience.

Get to know the country and its culture by reading and talking to others who have been there. In addition, social media can prove beneficial for learning a new culture.

Despite Islam being the second most widely practiced religion in France after Christianity, the French government recently banned burkinis (a fully covered women’s swimsuit worn primarily by Muslims) from public pools. On the other hand, French people love greetings, and not greeting them is considered rude; thus, you need to greet them ‘Bonjour’ while passing by.

“I’m sorry” is a common phrase among Canadians. The phrase “I’m sorry” is used over and over again instead of “excuse me,” “pardon,” or simply “sorry,” and it isn’t just an apology; it is their polite way of communicating.

There are some responsibilities that students must take on when studying abroad — to show a sensitivity to the local culture. Keeping local cultural norms in mind when living in another culture is essential. This may influence your clothing choice, manner of speaking, and interaction with the locals.

6. Refresh Your Language Skills

Undoubtedly, studying abroad is one of the best ways to improve language skills, consolidate learning, and achieve fluency. Students who want to immerse themselves in real-life situations abroad must improve their language skills.

The most effective way to refresh your language skills is to immerse yourself in the language. For instance, watch British or American series or movies if you want to refresh the English language. Read books. Read aloud and search for the word meaning when you don’t understand. Train yourself to write every day. 750words.com is the most effective way to practice writing. In addition to this, watch videos on the internet that helps you to understand the phrases and grammar.

7. Finance

a. Set up a foreign bank account
In countries like the US and the UK, easing higher education and immigration policies increase interest in studying abroad. Health care, infrastructure, and vaccinations are other factors to consider.

The length of your education can vary depending on your educational goals; therefore, opening a bank account in a foreign country is mandatory. In addition, the local bank account makes it convenient to manage everyday expenses.

b. Take some extra cash with you.

It is highly recommended that you carry the equivalent of USD 500 in the host country’s currency during the first few days. Since you will be busy adjusting to a new place for a few days, finding an ATM or bank will take some time. Furthermore, you’ll need to pick up documents and a debit card from the bank since you’ll get a local bank account. Therefore, having cash on hand will make things easier.

8. Do not overpack

It’s all about packing light! Ensure that you know your airline’s luggage allowance before traveling. The heavier you pack, the heavier you will feel, making the study-abroad unnecessarily challenging. There is no way you can carry your entire house.

Packing a few snacks is a good idea for traveling, but packing a whole suitcase with food is not recommended. Instead, you will explore the local markets for snacks and food while staying in the destination country.

It is essential to pack layers when traveling to different climates or seasons. A lightweight down jacket or shell that can be packed into a small pouch takes little space. It is also essential to have warm socks, a hat, and fleece on hand. Even though your destination may be warm, buses and flights can be very cold.

Other helpful things to pack:

  • All the relevant documents and visas. Carry two copies, one in your main luggage and another in your cabin baggage.
  • Enough prescription and over-the-counter medication.
  • There may be differences in voltage ranges between countries, but an all-in-one adapter can convert them to a standard voltage range. Hence, a universal travel adapter is essential.
  • You should pack travel-sized toiletries during the first two weeks and stock up once you have arrived.
  • Save space by buying a cheap towel/sheet upon arrival instead of carrying them.
  • Stick to 3–4 pairs of shoes, as you are not preparing for a fashion week trip
  • Pack more basic clothes as it will be easier to mix the colors.
  • Most countries (including most of Europe) have different voltage standards, so do not bring your trimmer, blow dryer, or flat iron. It is possible to find cheap ones in the country.
  • Bring extra contacts or glasses if you wear them.

Don’t forget to bring comfortable walking shoes, as let’s be honest — most Indians drive or ride on two-wheelers to stores and usually have a nearby parking lot to get off and finish their next errand, so they rarely walk anywhere. You will walk more than usual as you explore your study abroad destination. While it seems cute to wear flats or heels, it will be a disaster to step on some streets and blocks. So make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes.

9. Have an extra pair of mobile phones

This goes without saying; having an extra pair of mobile phones is highly recommended. Though major smartphone companies like iPhone or Samsung have the same sim card slot globally, if you have another cell phone brand, you might need a new pair at the destination to activate your local sim card.

Countries like Canada, the USA, the UK, Germany, and many others have great wi-fi facilities, but one needs to be careful using public wi-fi. It is highly recommended to activate VPN while browsing and avoid saving sensitive information.

10. Prepare yourself mentally

While saying goodbye can be challenging, all you need to consider is the excitement you will be experiencing. Never underestimate the power of unexpected events. Cultures, languages, and perceptions are different when you study abroad. There is a reasonable chance that the locals you meet abroad will be curious about your home country’s culture. Do interact with them without being rude, and learn from their differences without judging them.

Read newspapers and magazines to be aware of current affairs in your home country and worldwide. In addition to sharing your itinerary and plans with your friends and family, you may also want to let them know where you will be traveling and what you will be doing. You can adjust to living in a new environment away from home with the help of an effective support system.

Final Thoughts

We at Global Colliance ensure that you are briefed and prepared for everything before you board your flight when you choose our study abroad services. As a complete study abroad provider, Global Colliance assists you with all aspects of the program, including the selection of the education institute, preparation for IELTS, help with study visas, preparation for SOPs, pre-departure briefing, and post-arrival assistance.

Visit us at www.globalcolliance.com and get answers to all your study abroad-related queries.

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