As a student if you get the opportunity to move abroad it can be a very exciting time but also a little daunting. The thrill of the different culture, new scenery and new people take centre stage and some of the slightly less enticing details are pushed to the back of your mind. These are a few things that you should remember when planning your study abroad.
Surely anyone who is preparing to go abroad will have a valid passport? You’d be surprised. Be sure to check that your passport is still in date as you don’t want this to delay your trip. Equally as important is that it doesn’t expire whilst you’re abroad. The last thing you want is for your passport to expire before your flight home as this can take anything from 4-6 weeks to be replaced and may result in you missing your flight home and additional costs for yourself.
Start by making a list of any payments that need to be made in your absence. If you have any outstanding debt don’t think that you can just leave it behind, it will be right here waiting for you when you get back and in a much worse state than when you left. Get organised and get in touch with your bank/lender and explain what is happening. It may be that payments can be frozen until your return or even transferred into someone else’s name. Don’t forget that if your moving abroad for an extended period of time you’re going to need a bank account over there as using your current one abroad is likely to cost you money.
On an Erasmus programme you don’t need to pay any extra tuition fees to the new University you will be joining and there are also Erasmus grants that you can apply for but keep in mind that these are to cover things such as a higher cost of living in your country of choice and they are not intended to cover the full costs of your study abroad.
Decide how much money you would like to take with you to get started and be realistic. A good way to be prepared is to work out your budget and then add on an additional 25% as a contingency. If the worst should happen you’ll be glad it’s there. You also need to take into consideration how long you have until you travel. Do you have enough time to actually save that amount of money?
If accommodation is something that you have to organize for yourself be proactive about it. Don’t put it off until you get there as you don’t want to end up being ripped off or even worse having nowhere to stay at all; www.erasmate.com is a site aimed at Erasmus students looking for short term accommodation in Europe and means that you can get it arranged before you travel.
It is also worth thinking about whether you will need to sub-let your current accommodation. If you’re going to study abroad you are likely to be in your second or third year of University and may not be living in halls anymore. Do you rent a room/flat? Who is going to cover the costs while you are out of the country? Think about if you have any friends that would be willing to take it on while you’re away or if not you can use the Erasmate site to advertise it to fellow students. This is a great idea because you could potentially find someone looking for accommodation for the same amount of time as you, so that once your study abroad comes to an end it is an easy transition for both of you.
Once you have found your accommodation how do you intend to get all of your belongings there? If you are only studying abroad for three months then this probably doesn’t apply to you but if you are there for a full academic year this is something that you need to consider. Depending on the course that you are doing you may have a lot of essentials that need to go with you and if you are moving for a long time you may require more space than the 23kg the airline allows you. Use an online calculator to work out how much it would cost you to ship everything to your destination as this could work out cheaper than paying for extra baggage and also make it a lot less stressful for you. It may even be necessary to put some things into storage if you are planning to let out your current accommodation. Getting quotes for these early on will ensure you make the most cost effective decision.
It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of moving abroad and you can easily forget things like travel insurance. Make sure that you have some in place that covers you for your entire stay as some policies are only valid for 30 days. You will also need to get yourself a European Health Insurance Card before your trip; this means that if you require any medical attention you are entitled to the same healthcare as the nationals and that you can see a local doctor.
Immersing yourself in a completely new culture can be a daunting prospect but it is important to do so. Not only will it help you to meet new people but it also looks great to future employers as it demonstrates how adaptable you are. You can read more about how studying abroad can improve your future job prospects in this post.
If you will be studying in a country where you do not speak the language then do a little research before you go. Even though your course may be taught in English this doesn’t mean that when you’re in the real world everyone will speak English for your convenience. Pick up a phrase book and even if you can’t get to grips with it the locals will appreciate you making the effort. Reach out to anyone you know that has already done the course you’re about to do as they can give you helpful tips and advice for starting out in your country of choice. If you don’t know anyone there, make friends. Go to local community centers and find out about any groups for expats. Your new University is bound to have communities for people in your situation so really throw yourself into the local culture and you will definitely settle in much quicker.
This post was written by Ashleigh Sheard on behalf of Robinsons Relocation, a UK based specialist in International, European and UK moving and relocation.