Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to study abroad at the university of your dreams, and you’re jubilant. But things are about to get pretty overwhelming, as international students typically have a long checklist of things to do before they get started on their journey.
You may think the most stressful part is planning your classes for your first semester. However, most universities will have you connect with your course counsellor during your international student orientation, so you will receive the necessary guidance on that.
It can be daunting when you think about all the other things you’ll need to do on your own when you study abroad. But fear not – we’ve compiled a list of essential tips to consider before you leave home for that journey of a lifetime.
Apply for your visa and book your flight
Once you’re accepted, you’ll receive information from the university admissions office on how to apply for your visa, as well as the supporting documents needed.
Don’t delay applying for your visa as it can take some time for certain countries. Once you have your documents ready, check the embassy website for details on how to apply for your student visa.
Some embassies require you to make an appointment well in advance, so make sure you do so accordingly.
When your visa is approved (hooray!), you’ll need to book your flight. You don’t want to delay on this either in case it’s a busy season and tickets run out, so it’s important to apply for your visa early.
Secure your student housing
You’ll need to decide if you’re going to stay in the residence halls or off-campus when you study abroad. It’s generally recommended for first-year students to live on-campus as it’s more convenient and you pay all-inclusive bills, which will include utilities.
If you go with the dorms, the process is quite straightforward as your university will provide you with guidelines on the forms to fill and the necessary procedures.
However, staying on-campus can be more expensive in some college towns. If you only received your acceptance letter a couple of months before the start of the semester, you may be too late to snag a unit in on-campus housing.
If you decide to live off-campus when you study abroad, you’ll need to do more research. If you know anyone studying in your host university, seek out their opinions on the best places to stay.
If not, contact an international student association or the international student office. They can be useful resources in helping you find a place to stay and may be able to hook you up with a roommate.
Plan your tuition fees payment
It can be a headache trying to figure out the best way to make your tuition fees payment from back home when you study abroad, with hefty international bank transfer fees and hidden charges.
For new international students, you’ll probably not have to pay until you’ve met your course counsellor and finalised your courses. But you’ll still need to plan how you or your parents are going to make the payment.
You can get it sent via telegraphic transfer, but bear in mind there will be additional charges from your bank as well as the receiver’s bank. This means that if you’re not aware of the charges, your university receives less money than what you planned for.
For other options, check with your university on trusted payment partners and providers. If your institution has chosen to partner with these providers, it’s because they’re offering you a reliable and convenient way to pay your fees. These payment methods will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to handling fee payments.
The first rule of thumb when it comes to packing for university is don’t overpack! Most likely, you won’t have a lot of storage space, especially if you’re going to be staying in the dorms, so try to bring only the essentials.
You can also get plenty of your supplies when you arrive in your host country, such as notebooks, binders, winter clothing, towels and bedsheets. So don’t pack these bulky items in your suitcase.
So what do you bring? It really depends on the individual, but some things you’ll most likely want to bring are sentimental items (such as gifts from your family and friends, picture frames), your laptop or iPad, prescription medication (seeing a doctor abroad can cost a bomb), general clothing (underwear, jeans, socks and thermal clothing if you’re arriving during winter), toiletries (deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste).
If you’ve still got space left over, you can also pack certain food items that you can’t get abroad such as spices, instant noodles, and your favourite snacks. This depends on your host country though, and countries like Australia are strict on certain foods brought in from overseas.