Studying abroad can be a vital part of a well-rounded education. There are some obvious things students need to be aware of before you go abroad which is more than just a language and culture barrier. With proper preparation, studying abroad can be one of the best experiences of a student’s life.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a program like how much does it cost, where the student wants to go, and what kind of credit the student will get. For some students, deciding on a program is the easiest decision they make during the study abroad progress, but for others, there’s no clear choice and deciding on one program can be daunting. And with so many choices, it can easily be a challenge! When planning your study abroad experience it’s important to ask one about what he wants out of the course. A thing that may also influence one’s decision is the length of program one decides on and the kind of credit one will earn. All of these factors play an important role in choosing a program and prioritizing these factors will help students find the best program for oneself and one that suits his needs. Some of the important things that a student must consider before going abroad are:
Talk to students who have studied abroad.
Talk to alumni of the study abroad program to get a sense of the successes and struggles of their experience. Talking to others who have completed the same program will give students a chance to ask specific questions and allay any fears they might have.
Get finances in order
Studying abroad can be expensive. Prior to committing to any program, it is important to estimate how much the student will be spending during their time abroad. Some students might qualify for federal loans or grants. There are a multitude of scholarships available specifically for students who wish to study abroad. One of the greatest frustrations a student might encounter while studying abroad is with the bank. The student must make sure that they have alerted them in advance and given specific dates about when and where they are studying abroad. This will significantly decrease the chances of having their ATM card or credit card amount will declined suddenly. Many study abroad students also choose to travel with a debit card in lieu of cash. Students take out sums of money from the ATM as needed, as foreign ATMs distribute money in the local currency.
Make sure all necessary travel documents are prepared
It goes without saying that a current passport will be required in order to enter a foreign country and to return home. Many countries also require a student visa. The student must confirm that the visa will cover their entire study abroad period. Passports often take a few weeks to process, so it is best to coordinate as early on as possible. Students will be asked to show their passport as they leave India, as well as when they enter the new country. It is recommended for students to check in with their advisor to make sure that they know exactly what they need, and by making digital and physical copies of both their passport and visa.
Get a physical exam
Before leaving for the study abroad experience, it is important to visit the doctor and make sure you are in good health. The student must tell the doctor where they are going and see if the doctor has any specific recommendations. It is important that they are up to date with their vaccines.
Travel insurance is important if the student gets sick or has any serious medical issues. If the student already has health insurance, then it is important to see if it includes coverage for overseas care. If it doesn’t, he can get a policy specific for overseas travel. If the student is taking prescription medications already, then he has to coordinate with his doctor to fill these for the duration of the study abroad program. Over the counter drugs can be easily found abroad but sometimes have different names; all it takes is a quick Google search to figure out what to look for in the local pharmacy.
Most foreign countries will have decent medical facilities. The student must make sure to travel to the clinic or the hospital with their passport and insurance card with them. It is likely that the student will have to pay for the medical expenses upfront and later claim them through their insurance.
Be aware of social customs.
To avoid awkward situations, students should find out as much as possible about local customs before heading overseas. Remember to consider language barriers. Even though the language of the country the student is visiting might be known, there are still chances for misunderstanding. Studying abroad comes with some responsibility on the student’s part. As they will be living and functioning within another culture, it is important that they keep in mind the local cultural norms. This might influence the way they dress, the way they speak, and the way they interact with the locals.
It is important for travelers to practice sensitivity throughout their journeys, as their behavior may otherwise offend others unnecessarily or bring a bad name upon all travelers. A great first step in showcasing their interest in the local culture is to pick up some simple phrases (or more) in the local language.
Decide want to see and do
Going abroad to study can be more than just going to school in a different country. Students will have the opportunity to tour famous sites, museums and recreation areas. Research what to see and do while abroad. If they are not sure about the money, they should make a budget so that they can save up to do what they want. There are a variety of travel guides available; some are geared specifically to students traveling abroad.
Find a bank
Banking in a foreign country is quite different than what you are used to in India. Students may not be able to use your ATM card or credit card the way they do at home. The easiest way around this is to set up a bank account once they arrive. In doing so, students can have your money nearby and a way to access it quickly.
Know what to do in case of an emergency.
Prior to leaving on the trip, find out how to contact the police, the fire department and any other emergency service available in the host country.
Students should know where the closest Indian embassy is in case of trouble. Keep the phone number handy as well. Consular services are often available 24/7.Know how to find the embassy
Know the law and stick to it.
Students should be sure to obey the laws of the host country at all times. They should find out the laws for common activities, such as driving a car or drinking alcohol. Even a minor incident can create a lot of trouble for a foreigner who is not educated in the local laws.
Learn about food and drink safety.
One of the joys of traveling is trying the foods and beverages of the country you are visiting. Before trying the local delicacies, it’s in one’s best interest to research any potential health hazards related to food and drink.
Research about the local religion.
It’s not necessarily the case that the student will end up studying abroad in a highly religious area, but it can’t hurt to know. Information about religion is available on travel websites and can lend insight into local customs.
Write down emergency numbers.
It’s a good idea to have a list of emergency numbers available just in case you need it. Include the numbers of trusted local contacts, your parents, your school, the embassy and other organizations that can help students get out of a difficult situation.
Pack for the climate of the country you are visiting. Students should find out if they will need any special equipment, like heavy-duty snow gear, for example. They should pack copies of important documents, such as plane tickets, passports and credit cards for reference in case of an emergency.
Prepare to stay in touch with friends and family.
Students can stay in touch with family and friends in India while they are abroad by using video chat programs, such as Google Hangout or Skype. Their cell phone might work in another country, but if not, they may be able to get a cell phone locally. Otherwise, students can buy an international calling card to use for phoning home. Being able to talk to family and friends can go a long way in staving off homesickness.
Know that not everything can be planned in advance.
It’s a good idea to arm oneself with as much knowledge as one can prior to their departure, but there is no way that one can prepare for everything. Students should keep an open mind about their upcoming adventure. Any planning done ahead of time will serve them well, but not knowing what will happen is part of the fun of travel.