Courtesy of Adam Ewart, CEO – Send My Bag
Every year, thousands of UK students choose to go abroad for their university studies. Whether it be for the entirety of your degree or a year abroad, your experience will be unforgettable, and will allow you to grow significantly as an individual. Moving abroad can be a scary thing, but you will find that it will be a fascinating, character-building experience that you will never forget.
As you prepare to embark on your journey, there are many things to bear in mind. You may spend what feels like an eternity packing and getting everything ready – and when the big day finally comes along, you may feel like all the prep you’ve done wasn’t enough or that you may be forgetting something essential.
Be it unknowingly, you can make some very common mistakes when it comes to preparing to move abroad, which can cause unnecessary stress and add to your already existing nerves. Send My Bag has created a guide to make your move abroad a smoother, less stressful experience.
Do preliminary research:
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often it is forgotten. Before you prepare for your move you should find out as much as you can on the country/ local area you will be moving to. Create a shortlist of things and places you want to see and visit. Familiarise yourself with the layout of the area you will be moving to. We recommend knowing the answers to these questions as a starting point.
– What area will you be living in? What are my local shops?
– Will you be living on campus, if not how far will your commute be?
– How is the public transportation in your host country? If it is something you will be using extensively, we recommend researching the routes and costs that will be most relevant to you.
ENSURE your documents are in order:
When moving abroad to study, you will need to ensure that several documents are in order and because there are so many of them you do not want to forget one by accident. Ensure that all forms of identification are valid for a good number of years in advance. There is nothing worse than having to deal with expired passports while abroad. Lastly, make sure you arrange all necessary visas/permits required by your host country, forgetting one of these can seriously delay or be detrimental to your study abroad experience.
Sort out your accommodation:
As a student, you may find that your institution offers accommodation on campus, or, much like the UK, most university towns and cities offer affordable accommodation to students. Our best advice is to make sure this is sorted months in advance. You don’t want to arrive in a foreign country with nowhere to live. If you have not received an email or letter from your university, we recommend getting in touch and assuring that everything is in order. In addition, it’s great to know what kind of housing you will have e.g. shared or single so you can plan accordingly.
If you have a shared room, many universities will give out names of flatmates beforehand. We recommend reaching out to your new flatmate. It is always nice to know someone when you arrive in a new place.
Do not let airlines get the best of you:
When moving abroad, whether it be for a year or four, you will undoubtedly be bringing a lot of belongings with you. Airlines are making it increasingly difficult and expensive to bring any substantial about of luggage. Beware of airlines having a field day slapping on extra charges wherever they can because you did not read the fine print on their baggage restrictions. Research the airline you will be travelling with bag policies as they all differ. We recommend buying a miniature scale (available at any hardware store) so you can assure your bags are of adequate weight.
Sickness can strike at any time, so make sure you know how the health system in your host country works, and that you have access to it while you are abroad. Coming from the UK, you will be used to having a public healthcare system, however, many countries operate in a very different way and knowing the differences and how they will affect you is crucial. Take the time to do some research.
Language and getting involved:
After your big move, home-sickness is likely to strike and that is completely normal. To help combat this, try to become involved as much as possible. Talk to people at university, join local clubs and societies. If you are in a country where English is not the primary language, a significant hurdle for you may be a language barrier. It is imperative that you try to learn the local language. This can start well before you move, whether you take a formal class at home or simply teach yourself using books or one of the many online resources now available.
This will be one of the most exciting times in your life. Try to take in as much possible, and use these tips and hacks to avoid unnecessary hurdles in your experience studying abroad.