While you learn how to be independent, moving to a new country to study can be more stressful than fun. Rest assured, it doesn't have to be this way. The following tips will help you navigate this new life experience.
It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of living in a new country but remember, without the right documentation you wouldn't be able to embark on your new adventure.
Make sure all the necessary forms are filled, apply for visa months in advance – do not wait until the last moment as visa processing can take ages depending on the country you are moving to. Do not get discouraged if you fail a visa interview, you can always try again!
Make sure you have all your dates right, try your best to leave a few weeks earlier than the commencement date of the course as this will allow you to adjust to the new environment and be familiar with everything before starting university. Therefore, it is important that you purchase airplane tickets in advance as well, look for student offers on tickets, most airlines allow additional weight in luggage for students.
Before leaving for the airport do a thorough check of all the documents you need to carry on hand, especially passport and other visa documents. Most universities offer airport pickups for students, so register online for that prior to leaving.
Do a background search of the city you will be moving to, it is important to know the local culture and what kind of crowd resides there – not to scare you, but be sure to check crime rates, it is better to be safe than sorry.
You can join online student forums, some may even be hosted by the university that you are be attending, and they can help you with any doubts or questions you have. Check cost of living in the area, what supermarkets and shops are close to your accommodation, how far the university is from bus stops and train stations or if it is possible to walk to university.
This can be a tough one, but you will be spoilt for choice with places to stay.
There will be accommodation for every budget, the university will also have dorms or halls but they will be on the more pricy end of the spectrum. However, if you can afford it, go ahead as it comes with additional benefits like being very close to the university, having access to university gym facilities on a discounted price (check the university website for more info).
The most important thing you need to know about finding the right accommodation is that the further you are from the university the lower the prices. Always find accommodation that you can share with others, as this further brings down the amount of money you will be spending on accommodation.
It could be an annex, an apartment or even a full house! Sharing with housemates is fun as you’ll never be alone, and it won’t be as daunting as living alone, however, if you are looking for a place you don’t have to share, go ahead – cause that too comes with perks.
Before moving it is important to check the cost of living, especially if your parents are going to send you a monthly allowance. This way, you can easily manage your expenditure. You might be able to find a part time job but that also depends on the type of visa you have and the country you are travelling to.
The bulk of your expenditure might be your rent. However, it is so easy to spend your money excessively on food, clothes and other things which are not found in your country. The best way to easily manage your finances is to always opt to eat in and cook your own meals as this will save a lot of money! Do meal preps, cook for 2 days and store the food in the refrigerator for later and reheat before eating (using the microwave or stove). This way, you will also be managing your time.
That does not mean don’t eat out at all, sometimes during exam season it might not be very efficient to cook all your meals so opt for takeout. Your student ID will be eligible for certain discounts at restaurants so do make full use of it.
The other option you have is to go for precooked frozen food, however, this is not a healthy option so do minimise this as much as you can. Remember, maintaining good health is very important while studying.
Don't enter the new country with preconceived ideas of them or stereotypes. You should keep an open mind because you’ll be surprised about how different the country is from your assumptions. Alongside that, do ensure that you also prepare prepare yourself for a culture shock.
Perhaps you should spend as much time as possible engaging and learning from the locals as they know the ins and outs of their city and will help you navigate your way through your new environment.
Keep track of festivals and events and attend them, especially things like the Sunday market and Christmas sales. The university is bound to host events as well, so do attend those and be a part of the university community!
You may miss your friends back home, but it is so crucial to meet new people and make friends in your new city as this will help you immensely in the long run.
It may seem daunting at first, especially if you are an introverted soul, however, you will be surprised at how nice people really are and they can be very accommodating. If you are very shy and don’t know how to start, join a club or society, universities have many – so sign up for something you like and you will meet enough likeminded people!
Most importanly, make sure you surround yourself with people who make you feel happy and good about yourself, not people who have ill-intentions towards you or constantly try to bring you down. You don't need that kind of energy in your new environment!
Always opt for public transport because students usually get special rates. Regardless of which country you're traveling to and whether you are doing a part-time job, you need to save money and meet the local people. There's no better way to do this than taking public transport. Who knows? You may even save up enough money to get yourself a car! Yes, people who study in the USA and Australia are are known to be able to afford their own vehicle but that takes a lot of financial planning.
If you live fairly close to your university, you could walk, or even cycle to your campus. This will ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle!
It is so easy to get distracted when you are in a new country and city especially since you are constantly meeting new people and being exposed to many new things at once. However, this is not an excuse to stay away from studies.
Remember, the main reason you are here is to study so keep that as your main priority and plan everything else around that. Having said that, it's inevitable that at some point in time, you may feel homesick. But just keep in mind that during those days, you should take a breather and freshen up your mind. Recite a few prayers and then return back to studying. Rememeber that everything will be worth it in the end if you put in the effort.
Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so make the most of it. You will come back with a list of new skills and experiences to boot, as well as fond memories that you will cherish forever.
Remember to balance studies and fun!