FEATURE 15 December 2012

Preparing to Study Abroad

Thane - Overseas EducationThe most important part of studying abroad and perhaps the most grueling part as well is preparation - not just physical preparation but mental preparation also. Physical preparation could be confusing and demanding at times. You need to remember too many things and pack it in a very short time in most cases. Once there and settled in your university and new place, you will have the time of your life, but weeks before departure is simply packing and planning time.


BEFORE...

Pack wisely
Pack only what you need immediately. Do not try to pack for the whole semester. It will unnecessarily add up to your baggage weight. Do not forget to check the climate of the place. An average weather forecast of theuniversity town will help you understand the kind of weather you can expect during your semester. If you feel you need heavy woolens, it is always advisable to buy in the host country rather than purchasing from home. Not only will woolens add extra weight but in most cases you might not be able to use them in your new university. All major study destinations have flea markets and cheap shopping centers. It is also advisable to wear local flavors so that you go with the style and not be an outsider.

Documentation
A passport and student visa are essential documents for a student. You should apply for your passport even before applying to any foreign university. If the host country requires a visa, it would be easy for you to process it, if you have a passport. Make photocopies of your passport and visa and keep one set with your family back home, one with the student counselor and at least two copies with you. Keep it separately from the original, so that even if the original gets lost, the photocopies will help you prepare the original. Do not carry the original, unless you are traveling. Most importantly, remember to carry your scholarship and financial aid documents.

Health
Visit your doctor, before leaving abroad. Get a full physical checkup to ensure that you do not have any medical problem. Do not forget to carry all your medical documents abroad as you cannot be sure when you might need them. Make copies of the original medical documents as well. Get all your immunizations before departure and carry your immunization records as well. It is also advisable to carry emergency medicines, over the counter medicines for cold and flu.

Insurance
Health insurance policy is an essential thing before leaving for studying abroad. In countries, like Germany, it is the first thing that you need without which you cannot register with the university.

Money Matters
Prepare your budget for studying abroad. Do your research and analyze your cost of studying in that particular country. Learn about the cost of living and calculate your fixed expenses like rent, travel, electricity and food. Keep some money aside for entertainment and shopping. It is better to carry checks and cards rather than cash.

Accommodation
You should request for an on campus accommodation when applying for a study abroad program. You should contact the student cell of your university to learn more about student accommodation.

Maps, books, journals
You should carry city maps, university map for your stay in the university. Carry few books, unless they are very heavy as they would be the best companion while traveling and till you make some good company. Some important books that could of help to you are travel books, guide books and maps. Recipe books could be of great help to you especially if you have no culinary skills.


AFTER...

Once you reach your destination, there are still some preparations to be done and important things to keep in mind during your stay. Read below to learn further.

Check your actions
Remember you are being watched by students, teachers and others. Do not flout any rules and live by the law of the land. Whatever you do, remember that your actions speak not only of you but of your country, your school and your family.

Explore the city
Go out and explore the new city. Feel free to move around and get to know the people and the place around. Don’t behave or feel like a tourist and treat it like your own place.

Communicate
Establish a rapport with fellow students and interact with other foreigners as well. If you are in a known English speaking country, it is better that you either language back home or enroll in a language course in youruniversity. Most universities offer language courses to foreign students.

Have a buddy
Avoid traveling alone in a new place especially during the night. It would make you feel safer.

Bank Account
Once you arrive in your university and have found a suitable place to stay, it is time you open a bank account with any local bank or a bank which has a branch in India.


CONQUERING HOMESICKNESS

Preparing for studying abroad? As I said earlier not only do you have to make physical preparations but you need mental preparations as well. You might very excited at the prospect of spending a year or a couple pf yearstudying abroad and making new friends and learning new things, but probably once you arrive in the host country, you might start feeling homesick sooner than you expect.

If you are feeling depressed or if you are anxious, or having negative thoughts or generally disinterested, then the most possible reason could be homesickness. Here are some of the ways by which you can conquer homesickness:

You not the only one
If you are missing home, do not be ashamed of it. Remember, you are not the only one to feel homesick. There would be many others like who would be missing their home, family and friends. Openly talk with friends, student counselors or even teachers.

Remember your family and friends back home
Do not avoid the thought that you are feeling homesick. You can hang some photographs of your happy days back home in your room, create a blog and above all stay connected. Send mails, chat with friends and even call them up sometimes.

Make friends
Make new friends, talk to students of your home country or simply explore the city. Do not make your stay difficult by maintaining a fixed routine like home and university and back home. Mix with the local students to get an understanding of the university and the surrounding.

Join clubs
A good way of relaxing is to join different clubs of your university. Most universities have clubs of varied interests like theater club, adventure club, music club, reading club, environment club and so on.

The mantra of studying abroad is Plan, Relax, Communicate and at the end of everything Study Hard, Study Smart!


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