How to Prepare to Study Abroad: A Full Checklist 

A woman standing and holding a backpack

Your program is starting soon, but you don’t feel ready yet? Don’t worry, we will tell you how to prepare to study abroad. Take a deep breath and continue reading! 

Below, you will find 8 things you should do and lots of tips to feel familiar with the process and ready to take on. 😉

#1 Gather Documents

You will realize that studying abroad involves lots of documents, papers, and applications. For that reason, you should be very organized when it comes to gathering them.

First of all, you need to have a passport, a valid one, to travel anywhere in the world. If you do, that’s great! If not, you will have to contact your local embassy and ask them for information on how to apply for one. 

Depending on the country that you’re traveling to, you might also need a student visa to enter. Usually, the process isn’t that complicated as you will find very specific details on the official websites of each country. 

For example, if you are going to study in Canada, you can visit the Government of Canada website to check out the requirements to apply. 

A woman is holding her notebook and organizing papers on the table.

The common documents required to study abroad are:

  • Valid passport 
  • Student visa
  • Health insurance 
  • Letter of confirmation from your institution
  • Personal IDs
  • Proof of finances

#2 Arrange Accommodations

After you sort out the paper documents and properly organize them, you will find that the following steps to prepare to study abroad are easier! 

Getting accepted into a university is perfect, but now you need to think about where you will live abroad. To decide, you have to understand the differences between living off-campus and on-campus.

This decision will mainly be influenced by personal preferences. Some students agree that living off-campus has more freedom as you won’t be restricted by any curfews/laws, you will live alone, become more independent, and get to choose the location of the house.

However, this option tends to be more expensive with higher rent and transportation costs. It is also harder to make friends and find roommates. 

The most common options are:

  1. University residencies: This is affordable and a safe option! You will be closer to your classes, and  will make friends easier. If you don’t mind having minimal privacy, as you will share laundry and washroom, then this might be the perfect choice for you.
  2. Host family: There is no other perfect way to immerse yourself in the culture than this! Find online websites like AuPair to find your best host family match.
  3. Renting a room in shared apartments: This is a cheap off-campus housing option. You can look on Facebook or other channels to find other international students who want to rent an apartment and split the cost together!
A woman is wearing a lab coat and talking to her patient

#3 Visit a Doctor

Getting your bachelor’s degree abroad typically means that you will be out of your home country for 4 years, more or less. 

That’s not a short time, and this is why you should visit a doctor to do blood work, check-up exams, and other needed procedures to avoid complications in the new country. 

It is better to be safe! You need to be as healthy as possible when you travel as you will have to be constantly on the go while trying to figure out multiple things at once.

Getting ill while you’re away from friends and family can be harder as you won’t have the same support and the hospitals might have different rules. 

Also, the hospital bill might be more costly abroad!

#4 Purchase a Flight Ticket

This one is obvious; of course, you need to book your plane ticket before traveling, but did you know that the prices differ A LOT depending on many factors such as the time, date, airline, and website that you’re using?

To prepare to study abroad with fewer expenses, keep in mind that the best time to book your flight would be 3 months in advance. The 3 best sites to find cheap flights are Skyscanner, Kayak, and Momondo.

Now, some people might get picky when choosing the time of their flight, but to get better price options, you have to be flexible and willing to change the time and even sometimes the days. 

Getting travel insurance abroad to help cover unexpected medical emergency expenses is a great idea! Although it costs about 4%-10% of your total trip cost, it is still a good investment and might save you thousands of dollars later.

For instance, if you purchased a trip with a total cost of $5,000 the travel insurance policy will likely range in price from $250-$500.

#5 Research the Destination

This is one of the things you need to do before studying abroad as well and it is simply: research & learn.

Before leaving, take the time to do some research about the people and their culture, and any problems that the country is experiencing that may affect your travel plans. 

Understanding the culture, researching the food, looking at maps and areas, and practicing the language are all things that can make you feel more comfortable and less anxious.

When you arrive there, you might still be confused and experience unexpected things, but researching will help you minimize this shock.

Other than that, you might also want to look for banks near your house abroad and ask about the requirements to open a bank account as an international student. You want to keep your money safe there!

#6 Join a Facebook Group

Let’s be realistic, studying abroad might not be as fun if you don’t meet the right people there! To avoid being alone, you can join groups on Facebook, depending on what you want, either with international students or with locals to immerse yourself within the culture.

Both ways, you will be forming relationships, expanding your network, improving your communication skills, and avoiding being lonely.
Of course, there are other ways to make friends abroad, but this is the best way to do it before arriving there. 

#7 Prepare Yourself Mentally

International students face several mental challenges when studying abroad such as homesickness, cultural shock, loneliness, and anxiety. 

Just like how great things are bound to happen in the new destination, expect to have some bad days, but what’s important is that you know how to deal with them! 

Instead of doubting the idea of studying abroad or giving up, you will have to work on yourself to strengthen your personality and be flexible and ready to deal with any challenges along the way. 
Need tips and solutions on how to overcome these challenges? Check out our blog here.

A man is folding his clothes and packing his bag

 #8 Pack Your Bags

Finally, the most exciting part…PACKING YOUR BAGS! 

Before doing that, it is so important to research the weather in the destination that you’re intending to study in to pack appropriate clothes.

Also, make sure that you have the right number of bags, and know the weight limit and restrictions. 

Do you feel more relaxed now after reading this list? Well, help your friends out and share this content with them so they can know how to prepare to study abroad. 😉

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