The Wheaton Blog
Moving Abroad for School? Essentials to Know
Maybe you don’t envision yourself earning your undergraduate or graduate degree in the United States. Maybe you want to experience new cultures. Maybe you also want access to different programs and specialties than you’d find in the States. You’ve made the decision to study abroad.
However, as exciting as that idea seems, you have to keep the following in mind before you move: if you don’t prepare properly, you could find yourself in some frustrating and difficult situations. But as long as you remember the information below, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Find Housing Before You Leave
Most schools offer the option of on-campus housing. However, if that is not an option for you, showing up at school and hoping things “just work out” will not bode well for you. Look for housing in the area so you don’t find yourself homeless. You don’t want to use a hotel as a backup either, this tactic will burn through your finances rapidly. Sign a contract with a landlord in advance so you can easily move in.
Finish Your Visa Before You Book Your Flight
If you like to buy your airfare in advance, make sure you finish your student visa in advance as well. If you show up in a foreign country with an unfinished student visa, the border agents will send you straight home. Even if you have partially finished your visa, and even if you have a valid passport, you will need a completed visa (usually glued into your passport) to enter the country.
Arrange to Stay in Touch with Your Friends Back Home
When you go to school abroad, you’ll have to maintain long-distance relationships with everyone you care about. These people still have lives to live as well, so they might not have time to catch up with you if you don’t prepare beforehand and arrange schedules. Arrange to keep in touch by phone or by email. Establish a regular schedule for calls and emails too.
Make Sure You Have the Etiquette Differences Down
What is socially permissible in America may not have the same reception in other countries. For example, some cultures may feel offended if you wave in a certain manner. Others may feel uncomfortable if you wear clothes that expose your shoulders or show the bottom of your shoe. Research etiquette in your new country to make sure you don’t rub anyone the wrong way.
Pay Attention to Exchange Rates So You Know How Much Money to Save
An American dollar isn’t worth the same as a British pound and a British pound is not worth the same as a Japanese Yen. When you travel to a foreign country, you have to pay attention to the exchange rate, or the value your national currency has against money in the country where you’ll study. Keep the exchange rate in mind as you plan your budget.
Find Out if You Need a Foreign Bank Account
In some countries, the university gives you a student account, so you do not have to worry about this step. However, others require you to have a local bank account in addition to your US one before you can receive loans and scholarships. Ask your school which policy they use.
Look Into Other Unexpected Costs, Like TV Licenses
Do you have a subscription to Netflix and other online TV services? If so, you might have to get a TV license before you can watch videos in a foreign country. These licenses do not cost much, nor will you have to deal with them in every nation. Research the laws in your school’s country to learn more.
Before you let your excitement overwhelm you, make sure you’ve considered everything in the list above. If you’re considering moving abroad, allow Wheaton to help you! Our International division has the knowledge, network and tools to get you where you want to go anywhere on the globe. Head on over to our website to request a free estimate!