So you’re thinking of applying to universities outside your home country? Studying internationally is exciting! It has been an enriching experience for me and can be one for you as well. However, there are important considerations you must take before deciding whether this is the right path for you. Here are five things you need to consider before going to college abroad…
Research, Research, Research
Researching the country you intend to study in is vital. No two countries are exactly alike. Therefore, when you are researching, you must consider life outside of the college’s setting. What will it be like actually living in your country of choice? First, explore the country’s culture, mannerisms, religion, and food. Extensive research on these topics is vital for adapting to daily life. Trust me, you do not want to get off the plane without any prior knowledge of the country. Then, go beyond any preconceptions or stereotypes! Keep in mind that one person’s experience is not universal. Preparation is key to a successful study abroad experience.
Packing your entire life into a suitcase is one of the most challenging parts of preparing for your departure. So only pack the appropriate clothes you will need to survive. Ask yourself: Is the winter jacket really necessary if you are going to a country with a year-round tropical climate? Researching the climate and weather of your destination helps minimize unnecessary clothing, freeing up much needed space.
If you have extensive health issues, make sure you research the country’s health-care system and its access to resources that may be needed to treat your conditions. Some countries have less advanced mental health services than others. Schools might have health insurance to cover some of the costs, but research the insurance plan’s rules and uses before finalizing your decision to go to college abroad there.
Cost of Living
This may not be something that will constantly be on your mind if your family is supporting you, but you need to be aware of budgeting and your financial situation. The cost of living (for example, food, daily expenses, transportation) should be a vital part of your decision. Oftentimes, transferring money internationally takes weeks, and your local bank may charge international fees. Ask yourself how feasible your new life will be and whether you have the means to support yourself.
Packing up your life and moving to a new country and culture takes a strong sense of independence! While your school may provide support systems, acknowledging the reality of your situation can help you prepare for any limitations. For example, attending college abroad often means seeing your family and friends once a year. So it’s important to self-reflect and consider the additional burden that comes with studying abroad.
Ask yourself: Have I ever been away from home? Can I handle not seeing my family for an extended period? It is perfectly alright if you think moving far away from home will be too hard.
Homesickness can strike at any time! Therefore, it is essential to build strong connections and reach out for help. Isolating yourself and hoping someone will come along is not productive or helpful. Keeping an open and positive attitude will help motivate you! Bring snacks from home and call your parents often. Keep in mind that the next opportunity to return home is soon, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself too while abroad.