And one morning the long-awaited letter is finally in the mailbox. The acceptance letter for your dream course – abroad. Now studying abroad usually requires a little more organisation than studying in your home country. I want to talk about things you should do before your study abroad semester begins. This article is mainly about studying in Europe as a European, so there are probably differences to studying in other parts of the world or coming into the EU from other countries. But I’m sure you might be able to apply some tips to your situation as well :]
1. STUDENT VISA
If necessary obtain a student visa and entry clearance for studying abroad. I didn’t have to do that because I’m a European Student studying in Europe, so I am free to travel and study in every EU country. But because Visa appliances usually take a few weeks or months, please make sure to organise it early to not get in trouble and have everything ready!
2. CHECK WITH YOUR INSURANCE
Insurance is an essential part of the pre-journey preparation. Organise it as early as possible. You don’t want to deal with that one day before you leave! If you are from Europe and are going to study in Europe, call your insurance company. I have a family insurance and they are covering almost everything (ranging from householder’s comprehensive policy to defence insurance). They do that because my studies are not longer than a year and my official place of residence is still in Germany.
Health Insurance in Europe
I also didn’t have to worry about health insurance coverage. In Europe you are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (issued by your public health insurance). This free card provides you with medically necessary services during a temporary stay. This is a basic coverage, nevertheless it’s better than nothing. If you have any special medical needs it probably is the best to talk with your health insurance company about what they are covering or not. Get additional insurances if needed.
Health Insurance in the UK
Additionally, if studying in England for more than 6 months and are registered on a course of full-time study you are eligible for health care under the National Health Service. The only thing you have to do is that you have to register with a GP (General Practitioner) once you’re there. Dental Care is not included here. If you have a European Health Insurance Card you fall under the National Health Service even if you study under 6 months.
3. ARRANGE YOUR ACCOMODATION
Most universities guarantee you accommodation on campus as an international student. If you don’t want to life in a university arranged accommodation, you can look for rooms and flats in the private rented sector. My university recommends a letting service designed specifically for students called SULETS. I choose to arrange accommodation with SULETS for the simple reason that I found this agency to be trustworthy. They work together with “Derwent Students” who offer a huge variety of rooms in cities across the UK.
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4. SAVE UP SOME MONEY
Once you are abroad, you’ll probably want to travel within the country and have fun and explore your new hometown. This is the best part of studying abroad. There is so much to see and so much to do! But unfortunately, you need a lot of money for that. So better start prepping for it as soon as possible.
Start a part-time job during the summer and/or semester before you go abroad. Additionally, stop spending money on frivolous things. Every penny and cent counts! I worked as a waitress every weekend during my Bachelor, so I was able to save up some money for my year abroad. You can read my article about How to Save Money for Studying Abroad as a start. You can also check out some clever money saving tips on Pinterest or other Blogs (e.g. this one: 5 Things To Sell to Fund Your Travels). I’m also going to apply for a part-time jobs once I’ve settled in, to have some extra cash as well.
Organise a Visa Card which you can use the first few days before opening a local bank account. Check that it doesn’t have some crazy international fees.
5. CONSIDER WHAT TO PACK
Don’t start packing your suitcase in the last minute. You should put some thoughts into your packing list. Maybe you even need to buy some things before you leave (for example an adapter). Look at this guide which will definitely help you pack all the things you truly need. When I learned something while traveling, it is “less is more”. So do not overpack, you can and will buy things anyway once you’re overseas. Also remember that you have to ship all the things home again after your time abroad is coming to an end!
Also, copy all important documents and tickets and compile important addresses and telephone numbers.
6. RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO ABROAD
While you probably have some ideas about the country you’re going to, a quick Google search doesn’t hurt. Finding out what the top locations and attractions are, can only help improve your experience. Researching living costs can also help you to plan a budget. Plan which places you want to visit during your stay, maybe already think about how often you are able to travel (e.g. once a month).
Download the map of your city via Google Maps so you can use it offline – you’re mobile phone probably doesn’t have an internet connection ;]