Studying abroad can be an exciting and transformative experience, but it’s not without its own challenges. While the future cannot be predicted, there are a few ways for students to safeguard themselves so that they’re prepared for worst-case scenarios when it comes to studying abroad.
A little planning goes a long way towards making sure you’re not hit with unexpected challenges as an international student so that you can truly enjoy your time abroad.
Here are some tips to take note of:
Managing personal finances can be a challenge for international students. Many are leaving home for the first time and would typically not have experience handling large amounts of funds.
You’ll not only have to learn how to manage a personal budget but also how to navigate the payment of tuition fees, visa fees and so forth.
One way to make paying your tuition fees easier is to check if your university has preferred or trusted payment partners. These payment partners will typically ensure the university receives the total amount in a timely manner without hidden charges and receiving bank fees.
If they don’t, find out beforehand from the bank about their international wire transfer fees (on both ends) and how long it typically takes. This is to ensure your university receives the right amount and on time.
If you have funds sent over to your private bank account, the same rule applies – but you will also need to be vigilant about monitoring your bank account transactions and mindful about invoice due dates.
For personal financial planning, it’s always a good idea to come up with a budget at the beginning of every semester or month so that you can keep track of your expenses. Make sure you set some aside as emergency funds for rainy days.
Whether you choose to stay on or off-campus, there are challenges that come with living with strangers. Even if you have your own room, you still have to share facilities with others.
Get to know your roommates or housemates early on so that you know their quirks and pet peeves, instead of letting flare-ups happen later.
At the start of the semester, make sure you discuss with them how shared bills will be split and who will be paying them. Identify issues that can possibly cause conflict (such as who takes out the trash and if you’ll be sharing groceries) early on.
It’s also a wise move to set “house rules” so that everyone knows their responsibilities and to avoid conflict later.
Living with others is one thing, but you’ll also have to live with yourself. How capable are you to take care of yourself? If there are certain things you need to learn, it can be helpful to do so prior to going abroad as you’ll still have the help of your friends and family.
For example, do you plan to cook more often when studying abroad? Then you’ll need to learn your favourite recipes from your family or bring along some condiments you’ll need from back home. You’ll also need to know how to buy the correct ingredients, pots, pans and utensils.
Similarly, you should also learn how to clean your room and do your laundry properly as chances are, no one’s going to do them for you when you study abroad.
Managing your time
Besides money, managing your time properly is also key to ensuring you will be able to enjoy every aspect of your student life.
Once you receive your academic schedule, sit down and come up with a schedule that allows you to manage your time efficiently.
For example, you should not only set time aside for revision and assignments, but also time for socialising, exercise, work, and student association activities. Write down all your important test and exam dates so you know when you’ll need to spend more time hitting the books.
By doing this, you won’t feel overwhelmed or waste precious time while juggling your busy life as a student.
Being sick while studying abroad can be a miserable experience. Sometimes you just can’t help it, but there are certain precautions you can take.
For example, make sure you get a flu vaccine (usually offered at on-campus health centres), practice good hygiene like washing your hands frequently, and stay healthy by eating well and exercising regularly.
Make you are also prepared financially in the event you fall sick or have an injury. Find out what your international student health insurance covers so you’re not caught in a bind.
Prepare for the unexpected when studying abroad so you can have a truly memorable student experience – for the right reasons!