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.

• Century Avenue • City skyline 2018 Shanghai Photo Shoot


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. 

Oriental Pearl Tower lit up in violet, Photo by Eric Ling, Shanghai '20
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.

Sarah in front of the Oriental Pear Tower in Shanghai, China, at night.

Sarah Zenere is a dynamic and accomplished individual with a passion for data science, social impact, and environmental sustainability. Her diverse range of experiences both on and off-campus reflects her commitment to personal growth, interdisciplinary collaboration, and making a positive difference in the world.

On the NYU Shanghai campus, Sarah has been actively involved in various leadership roles and research endeavors. As an Orientation Ambassador Captain, she played a pivotal role in welcoming and guiding new students, ensuring a smooth transition into university life. Additionally, as the Vice President of Green Shanghai, Sarah demonstrated her dedication to sustainability by spearheading initiatives aimed at promoting environmentally conscious practices within the campus community.

In recognition of her academic excellence and research potential, Sarah was awarded the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund, enabling her to investigate the effects of heatwaves on urban slum transportation mobility. This research project showcased her strong analytical skills and commitment to understanding the challenges faced by marginalized communities in the face of climate change.

Beyond campus, Sarah has gained valuable professional experience through internships in Business Intelligence and Algorithms at 1A Auto. These roles allowed her to apply their data science expertise in real-world settings, contributing to the development of cutting-edge technologies and solutions.

Originally from Vicenza, Italy, Sarah brings a global perspective to her academic pursuits. Fluent in Italian, English, French, and Chinese, she embraces cultural diversity and actively engages with individuals from various backgrounds. This international exposure was further enhanced through her participation in an International Exchange Program (IEP), where she is continuing her studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, providing her with firsthand insights into different educational systems and fostering a global mindset.

Sarah is currently pursuing a major in Data Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence. Her  passion for harnessing the power of data to drive innovation and solve complex problems is evident in her academic pursuits. Additionally, Sarah is minoring in Chinese, showcasing her interdisciplinary approach and diverse intellectual interests.With a strong foundation in data science, a commitment to social impact, and fluency in multiple languages, Sarah is poised to make significant contributions in their chosen field. Whether it’s leveraging artificial intelligence to address societal challenges, advocating for sustainable practices, or promoting cross-cultural understanding, she is driven by a desire to create a positive impact and shape a better future.