Studying abroad is many things. It’s an exciting chance to live in another part of the world. It’s a challenging balance of studying and adventure. And since it generally involves studying and living thousands of miles away from home in a country you might never have visited before, it can be more than a little daunting.
But, don’t let fear hold you back. Traveling and studying abroad is easier than ever before, a trend that’s only set to continue. If you’re thinking about studying overseas next year, there’s never been a better time to plan a semester (or longer) abroad.
Here are our tips for studying abroad in 2019:
Do your research before you leave
Before you leave, aim to find out as much as you can about the destination you’ll soon be calling home. As well as conducting online research and buying a good guide book (Lonely Planet’s are excellent, and will also tell you a lot about day-to-day life in your destination), schedule a free chat with the ARRVL travel consult service. Our travel concierge will be able to tell you about the top things to experience in your new city, and also offer practical advice on things like SIM-cards and public transport.
Plan a budget
Budgeting might seem like an obvious piece of advice to any student, but combine studying with living overseas and it can be harder than you think. Think carefully about how much money you’ll need each week. If you’re worried about overspending, withdraw your budget as cash once a week to help you monitor your spending (particularly useful if you’ve still not got to grips with a new currency). Or, try using an app like Trabee Pocket to track your expenses so that you can find out quickly how much you’ve spent and, more importantly, how much you’ve got left!
Tell your bank!
There’s nothing more stressful than being in an unfamiliar country with no money (another reason to stick to your budget) and no way of withdrawing any, so make sure you inform your bank of where you’re going to be and how long you’re going to be overseas for.
You can also look at opening a foreign bank-account, a practical option if you’re planning on studying abroad for a long period of time, or getting a part-time job. Ask your study abroad program which student-friendly banks they’d recommend or if they have any advice on which banking solution is best for you.
Sort out a SIM card
WiFi hotspots are seemingly everywhere, so it’s tempting to think you might not need a new SIM card for the country you’re studying in. But being able to call and text people whenever you want with a local SIM card isn’t just more convenient than relying on WiFi, it’s safer too, especially if you’re exploring your new home town alone.
With ARRVL, you can have this convenience at your fingertips from the moment your plane hits the tarmac. Pre-order your SIM card as part of your travel envelope and we’ll deliver to you before you leave your home country. You’ll avoid the queues to buy one at the airport and can let quickly everyone back home know that you’ve arrived safely!
Scan and copy all of your important documents, twice!
You’d be amazed at how much time and effort this travel-hack can save you, especially if you’re unlucky enough to lose your passport.
Print two copies of all your important documents (passport, drivers’ licence and any health documents you need) then give one set to someone you trust in your home country, and keep the others for yourself. It’s also worth keeping copies of all of these on your phone or computer, just in case you need to send a copy of your passport in a hurry.
Get travel insurance, and don’t skimp on it!
Medical treatment, trip cancellation, family emergencies, plane delays, and damage to property are all things that can be covered by travel insurance, which is exactly why it’s so important to find a policy that works for you. If you’re into adventure sports for example, World Nomads cover more than 150 extreme activities.
A good place to compare most policies is insuremytrip.com, although it doesn’t provide quotes from every travel insurance company, so do a bit of research online as well. Whatever you chose, remember that it’s better to pay a bit extra and not need it, than pay a bit less and find yourself having to pay more in a situation when money is the last thing you want to be worrying about.
Buy a camera
There will be countless places, people and moments that you’ll want to remember forever, not to mention countless friends and family-members back home desperate for photos of your life overseas. Admittedly, you could just take photos on a smartphone, but if you want to avoid running out of battery before lunchtime, a good quality camera is a wise investment that you’ll get endless use out of while studying abroad and for many years after. We recommend the Sony RX100 V for a compact point-and-shoot that rivals most DSLRs.
This is where your research will come in handy, so pay particular attention to what the local weather is like, how it may change during the course of your stay, and to what the organisers of your study abroad program recommend. It’s also worth packing some gifts in case you stay with any local families, and leaving some space for souvenirs on your way home. Don’t forget to pack your ARRVL envelope!
Sign up to as many social events as possible, as soon as possible
Homesickness is practically inevitable when studying abroad and one of the best cures is to make friends who make you feel at home in your new town. Whether it’s the women’s soccer club or the debate society, sign up for everything that interests you at your new school when you first arrive. Or, alternatively, if you want to meet more people outside the academic bubble, use Meetup to find groups near you who share your interests.
Then, once you’ve signed up to groups and activities, it’s up to you. If you can manage it alongside studying, make time to go along, meet new people and form a new friendship circle. You never know, you could end up being friends for life!
Make the most of it!
Inevitably, your time studying abroad will come to an end, so, when you’re not studying, try to do as much exploring and make as many memories as possible. Go on that weekend hiking trip, visit that bakery everyone’s talking about, or go to the roof of the skyscraper that overlooks the city- just make sure you make the most of an experience that, cliched though it may sound, truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.