How can I Prepare to Study Abroad? (with pictures)

Aniza Pourtauborde
Aniza Pourtauborde
Students will need a passport to study abroad.
Students will need a passport to study abroad.

Studying abroad is an eye-opening experience. People, culture and even the weather differ from what you are accustomed to. Researching your host country can prevent you from having a culture shock. However, there are other important details to consider when you prepare to study abroad:

1. Documentation

A passport and student visa are critical documents that you need to legally remain in a foreign country. Apply for a passport several months ahead of your application to study abroad. Your passport may later be used to prepare your student visa if the host country requires you to have one.

Researching a host country might help prevent culture shock.
Researching a host country might help prevent culture shock.

Photocopy these documents and give them to your family and student counselor in your home country. Keep a copy for yourself by packing it separately from your original documents. This way, it will be simpler to generate new documents if your original ones are lost or stolen while you study abroad.

2. Health

Before leaving, consult your doctor for a full physical examination to ensure that you are in good health. Bring along a copy of your medical records in case of an emergency overseas. Know the host country’s immunization requirements and become immunized before your departure.

3. Insurance

Get a reliable health insurance policy that includes medical evacuation and repatriation if a medical emergency occurs. Consider taking a comprehensive travel insurance policy if you intend to travel a lot while you are overseas.

4. Money matters

Develop a realistic budget for your study abroad and stick closely to it. Learn about the cost of living and account for fixed expenses such as rent and utilities. Put money aside for entertainment and the occasional shopping spree. Add your one-time expenses as well, such as the purchase of a car and your rent deposit.

Have at least three months of savings before you leave to study abroad. When you arrive overseas, set up your account in a reliable bank with branch offices near your campus and where you live. Have some money transferred from your account at home. For safety, avoid carrying too much cash. Rather, have student checks and debit or credit cards on hand.

5. Communication

Regular communication with your family and friends is essential when you study abroad. The Internet connects the world with just a click of a mouse. Your campus library allows free Internet access during office hours, so you can send emails to your family and friends. However, you may be restricted from using more advanced Internet features, like chat programs and Internet telephone calls. You can buy an international calling card instead to make affordable calls to home.

6. Accommodation

To economize, request on-campus accommodation when you apply for your study abroad program. Universities give priority to foreign students, although on-campus accommodation may only be offered for a limited period, such as the first semester or year. Survey the rental market early to avoid paying expensive rent due to lack of more affordable options.

Share a place with your campus friends. This helps save on gas expenses when you carpool to classes. Staying with a host family by exchanging domestic services like cleaning and babysitting is another economic alternative. However, check with your student counselor beforehand to avoid violating any laws.

7. Packing

Pack only what you need to get settled in the host country. Avoid bringing clothes for a whole year. Chances are, you may not even use most of them, especially if the weather is completely different.

Know the weather when you arrive so that you can wear appropriate clothing. Remember to bring adaptors if you are bringing your own electrical appliances. Place important documents pertaining to your study abroad in a hand-carry luggage and keep it with you at all times.

Leaving to study abroad opens your mind to another world. Your experience should not be fraught with lack of preparation and last minute planning, so bear these tips in mind to have a hassle-free departure to your host country.

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Discussion Comments


My niece got a study abroad scholarship. We were sad to see her go, but happy for her at the same time. She will learn so much about another country, herself, and obtain an education.


I wish I could have had a study abroad opportunity. My sister did, and she had so much fun while learning. In my case, I was the older child and my parents had less money when I was going to college. I was working full-time to pay my way through school. I also got grants to help me. I am happy for my sister; I just wish sometimes I would have had the same opportunity.

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    • Students will need a passport to study abroad.
      Students will need a passport to study abroad.
    • Researching a host country might help prevent culture shock.
      Researching a host country might help prevent culture shock.