Posted on October 19, 2020
#studyabroad #studentaccommodation #internationalstudents 

Getting everything ready to study abroad can be a hectic process! Many things need to be prepared. Coordination and good timing are crucial for everything to work as expected.

Check out our moving checklist and find out the steps you should follow to get ready for your new life studying abroad!

1 year before

Get your passport

mana5280-ivG8LkDrtjs-unsplash It might sound a bit early to apply for a passport a year in advance, but this is the first thing you should do, even before you start researching your desired study program. The processing time to get a new passport or to renew it varies in each country, so it’s better not to be in a hurry when you’re getting closer to the departure.

Also take in mind that in some countries it is required that the passport has more than six months of validity at the time of issuing a visa, so it’s safer to check this in advance with the embassy or consulate of the country you’re planning to move.

Research your desired study program

Either because you already know what you want to study, or because you still need to decide, it’s recommended that you start researching study abroad programs, at least one year before your desired move-in date. That way, you’ll have enough time to make an informed decision, as well as being able to prepare everything calmly.

Check the official university websites, research on the internet and social media (Facebook groups can be very helpful), and reach out to people you know who have studied abroad, so you can learn more about their experience, as well as to ask for their advice.

Take up a language test (if necessary)

ben-mullins-oXV3bzR7jxI-unsplash Depending on the country you are going to, you will likely need to take up a language test to include an official language score in your application. If that’s the case, then you need time to get prepared for the test. Some of the most common test scores in English are: TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language (most common) IELTS - International English Language Testing System PTE - Pearson Test of English

8-10 months before

Prepare your application

mometrix-test-prep-zUDfUREDH1o-unsplash Once you have chosen your desired study abroad program, you should apply for it. Be careful with the deadlines to submit your application. Double-check and prepare the requirements or questions you should answer. Set up as many reminders as possible, and submit it with enough time in advance before the last day of the deadline, to avoid last-minute complications, which are very likely to happen when you are in a hurry (such as internet problems, etc.)

Apply for an international student scholarship or financial aid

Another deadline you should take into consideration is the one for applying for an international scholarship or financial aid. If you need or are interested in getting one, make sure to check what are your options, the application requirements, and the deadline. This can be a huge help to cover your expenses, such as travel costs, housing, food, etc.

6 months before

Apply for a student visa

This is the most important step in the process. Almost every country requires a student visa, no matter if the student stays there just for 1 month or for years. As with passports, the process for issuing visas is different in each country, and in some, it may take longer or it can be more complicated than in others. Always make sure to first visit the official website of the embassy or consulate of the country you’ll go, and apply for the visa within the stipulated time.

Research and get student health insurance

You may think that this doesn’t require much research, but getting health insurance while studying abroad is very important. Nobody knows what can happen during your stay, and affording unexpected health services can be crazy expensive. It’s safer to research, make sure that the company covers that country, and that it provides good customer service.

5 months before

Start looking for housing

brandon-griggs-wR11KBaB86U-unsplash Looking for housing is a long and hard process that can take months. Either because you are planning to live on or off-campus, with a host family, or to look for an apartment for rent, it’s recommended to start looking for it with enough time in advance. Research what are the best housing local websites, or contact your university to get information about host families, or in-campus accommodation. In case you prefer to rent an apartment, always take standard safety precautions to avoid rental scams.

Make a budget for your stay

About 5 months before departure (or even earlier), we suggest you prepare a budget for studying abroad. It is very expensive, and you should consider several factors apart from the tuition fees, such as housing, food, transportation, leisure, etc. Get prepared for two scenarios: studying abroad with or without a scholarship or financial aid.

Also, take into consideration the exchange rates between your local currency and the one in your new destination. Define how much cash you think you might need and set up a weekly budget. That way you can avoid unnecessary cash withdrawals from ATMs in your country of destination, which translates into transaction fees.

3 months before

Book your flight

The best timing to book international flights is 3 to 4 months in advance. Get informed of the average price of the flights to your destination at that time of the year, so you know what to expect, as well as to identify a good price option.

Apply for a travel credit card

If you don’t have a credit card, this can be the time to get one. A credit card can be very helpful as a backup to your budget if you use it wisely. Make sure to apply for a travel-friendly one that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.

Register your trip with the local embassy or consulate of your country

For safety and security reasons, it’s also good to register your trip with the embassy or consulate of your country of origin, in your destination country. That way, you could receive alerts, notifications, and support in case of emergency there (e.g. weather emergencies, or natural disasters).

6 weeks before

Take inventory of your belongings

Leverage this opportunity of starting a new life somewhere else, to check your belongings and clean your closet. It is a good moment to donate, sell, or get rid of stuff you don’t need or use anymore. Make a list of the items you want to bring with you while you will be studying abroad. That way, you will know how many suitcases you need.

Get suitcases or backpacks if necessary

Based on the list of belongings suggested above, you will know if you need an extra suitcase or backpack. Make sure to check the baggage policy of the airline you will be traveling with, so you know in advance if you would have to pay extra for a second suitcase, as well as to have some savings to pay at the airport in case your suitcase is overweight.

4 weeks before

Apply for an International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

International Student Identity Cards (ISECards) are super helpful for international students. Its benefits are that it works as a valid form of identification worldwide, you can get discounts for several services and venues, and they are valid for a year!

Schedule a regular checkup with your doctor

Better safe than sorry! Going to the doctor for a regular checkup should be a must on your to-do list. Also, if you take prescribed medications or are under a treatment, you should let your doctor know, to fill your stock for the duration of your stay since in some cases, it can be hard to find specific medication abroad.

Let your bank know you're traveling soon

Avoid your debit or credit cards from being suddenly blocked. Let your bank know that you’ll be traveling, and for how long.

Research about your destination’s culture, language, and rules

barbara-maier-ycX9H1Erqc8-unsplash Take time to learn more about important facts about the country you will be studying, such as its culture, traditions, and rules that might not be written down, but everybody practices or respects.

3 weeks before

Organize a garage sale

If after cleaning your closet, you have much stuff you want to sell, then organizing a garage sale is a good idea. That way, other people can give a second usage to things that are still in good condition, and you can make some little money, which will be very useful for your trip.

If organizing a garage sale is too much work, or if you just want to donate and not to sell your items, then you can give them away to non-profit or charitable organizations.

Start packing

Time to pack! It is better to do it early than very close to the date, especially if you will be abroad for a year or more. You will be surprised by how many things you will need. A good pair of sneakers and a winter jacket are a must!

1 week before

Finalize packing

One week before departure, you can already leave aside the clothes and stuff you will use on your last days at your current location, and pack as much as possible.

Get currency from your local bank

macau-photo-agency-F36uIkMf-Gk-unsplash Exchange enough money to have cash for your arrival, for example for paying for a taxi or public transport, or any other expenses.

Make copies and scan your personal documents

Make copies of your personal documents, take some with you, and leave some to your relatives. Also make sure to scan them and archive them on your computer, or in the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc.) An extra tip is to add them to an online shared folder with your parents or relatives, so they can have access to them in case of emergency.

Plan how to get from the airport to your new address

Check on your preferred web mapping app on how to get from the airport to your new location. It is always good to download to your phone the map of your destination, so you can access it even if you are offline, as well as to write down the directions in a small notebook or agenda (a little bit old school, but a good backup).

Download and set-up useful apps

Research which apps you might need in your new country, and download them in advance. Some examples are the app of the public transportation system, your bank’s app, food delivery apps, etc.

After arriving at your new destination

Let your family know you have arrived

magnet-me-315vPGsAFUk-unsplash Communicate with your relatives as soon as you can upon your arrival, to let them know everything is ok.

Get to know other students

Get immersed in your university community and culture as soon as possible. Try to connect with other local or international students, and enjoy your new student life from the very beginning.

Get familiar with the neighborhood

Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, knowing your new neighborhood will also allow you to feel more comfortable and familiar with your new life. You will surely discover cool places for dining, exercising, shopping, etc.

Get familiar with the public transportation

Exploring the surrounding areas of your new location by using public transportation is a good choice. You will rapidly know the city, and it will give you more independence for whenever you want to commute to somewhere else.

Last but not least, make sure to enjoy the whole experience. Time flies, so make every day count and do not miss the opportunity to connect with different people, attend to cultural events, and discover new places. You’ll end up loving that place and hopefully making a strong bond with your classmates and roommates.

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