Before moving abroad…
There are many different reasons why people all over the world are becoming increasingly interested in studying abroad and getting an international student experience. Some people study abroad because they want to live in a more touristic country, some just want a change of scenery, and others seek a better higher education for themselves. In any case, once you decide that you do want to study abroad, there are some things that need to be taken care of before actually starting a new life elsewhere.
Make a list
This may not sound too important, but it really is a lifesaver. Before even moving abroad, make a list of all the things you need to do before you leave, such as:
- Book a ticket
- Buy insurance
- Send documents…
No task is small enough to not put on the list. Moving abroad is a wonderful experience, but it is also very stressful, so forgetting to do something is quite common during the few hectic months before departure. After you list the most important things that you need to do before you leave, make another list for all the things you need to buy and take with you abroad.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you should not pack as much as you possibly can. This will only overcrowd your new home, and will be very unpractical if you ever need to move. Also, keep in mind that during your years abroad, you will most likely buy more stuff, be it clothes, furniture or books. This is a very good thing, especially if you’re looking to really embrace the new culture, because it will make you visit local shops and communicate more with locals.
That being said, always keep in mind the essential items that you might need, such as adequate clothes for wherever you’re moving to. For example, you shouldn’t bring that “fur coat that you love so much” if you’re going to study in Bali, no matter how much you love wearing it. So, bringing light clothes would be much more apt in that case.
It goes without saying that important items, such as passports, driver’s license etc. should be at the top of your “Don’t forget to pack:” list.
Find a roommate early on
There are many people who prefer to live alone during their studies, however an overwhelming majority choose to live with a roommate, friend, or partner. Oftentimes when moving abroad, people have to live with another student whom they may have never met before. This is why you need to really stay in touch through social media networks with people from your class or university, or even from the city where you’re moving to, even before leaving your home.
There’s a plethora of Facebook pages designed to aid people in finding roommates. If you’re not a big Facebook fan, usually the university has a Students’ Affairs offices which offer help to students who are moving from abroad. This includes helping them find a roommate.
Obviously, the earlier you find a roommate, the better for you, because it will give you time to start socializing with the person by chatting online, or sending emails. This lets you get to know your roommate a bit before even moving in with them, and getting a sort of feeling on each-other’s do’s and don’ts.
While you may think that the hardest part is over, once you arrive to your new location, there is actually many things that still need to be done once you’ve arrived, to ensure a smooth and happy study abroad experience.
Stay in touch
For introverted people, this may be quite hard, but it is definitely worth it to make an effort in inviting people to hang out somewhere or grab a bite for lunch together. This is a crucial step if you don’t want to spend your student years just studying and not doing anything fun. Making new friends is essential, and you shouldn’t underestimate this aspect of your study abroad experience.
Find a local to teach you the language
It’s quite likely that you will have language classes wherever you go, but there’s nothing more effective than a friend teaching you the language, because they know best what phrases you will most need. Learning the language of the country you’re in will come in handy a lot, be it only a couple of phrases to help you order food or buy something in the grocery store. It will also help you in blending in with the locals, and better understanding their culture.
Take your time
In the beginning, you may find simple daily tasks frustrating to do, or you may feel a bit lost. It’s important that you relax, and make some time to focus on yourself. Take time to explore the city for example, or go to a café with your laptop and notebook and get some work done in a new environment. It goes without saying that you should focus on your studies, because after all that is the main reason that you moved abroad, but don’t forget to also have fun in the meantime and to enjoy yourself and the great opportunity that you’ve been given.