What to Expect When Studying Abroad

Whether it be an exchange student program, family matters, or the choice of the student themselves, more and more individuals are studying abroad because of globalization and ease of transportation of the modern world. And while studying abroad may sound scary, especially if you will do it alone, this article will give you a general idea of what to expect when studying away from your country of origin.

Why some study abroad?

• Wider course pool

There will be times when an individual’s local university does not offer the course that they wish to pursue, and rather than giving up on their goals, these individuals strengthen their resolve and opt to pursue higher education in a different location.

This is one of the primary reasons some students would want to study abroad. The course diversity of a certain area may be too small and thus does not offer that many choices for the students. And if one of these students has their eyes set on another course or career path, then they will need to study some place other than their locality.

• Career choices

Another reason some students would want to study abroad is because of the career choices that they will make. It is better to gain experience and knowledge of a specific country if one wishes to work there. 

By studying in the country that they want to work in, they will gain first-hand knowledge of the way things work in that specific country. They will also have a higher chance of being accepted into the job that they will apply for as they are from one university in the country which they are planning to work in.

• Family

There will also be instances when the student simply had to follow their family abroad and just studied there as well. This is common for most students whose families are diplomats or whatever profession that requires them to live in another country.

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Things to know when studying abroad

There are a lot of things to take in when studying abroad, and the first few days will be as stressful as it is educational. Here is a guide on what you need to know when you first study abroad.

1. Remember to finish your paperwork

No country will allow a foreigner with incomplete papers to enter their territory, therefore it is important to finish all the paperwork necessary for your trip to be as smooth as possible. Finish filing all the documents for your passport or Visa and double check the transfer papers you have sent to the university you will go to.

This will allow your overseas journey to go without a hitch. Nobody wants to be brimming with possibilities as they enter the airport, only to find out you had incomplete paperwork and are not officially enrolled at the university you will study at.

2. Get everything essential ready

After finishing all the paperwork that you will need, the next things you should secure are the essentials. These include your ID, cash, a map, a conversational dictionary or app of the language of the country you will study in, and your important documents.

You should keep these items safe and close to your person at all times to make sure you do not forget them. These are kind of like the starting items in an RPG game that will help you progress through the early stages of the game when you are still not familiar with the environment and controls.

3. Take time to ensure your flight and accommodation are correct

The next thing to be aware of is the flight schedules and accommodation arrangements you have made are on point. No matter how much you are pumped up for studying abroad, your mood will instantly turn sour when you find out that you forgot to find a descent room to stay in. Unless the university you will enroll into has a dormitory for its students, then you better make sure that you will have a roof to cover your head.

4. Get to know the course and university

Another thing one must know whenever they plan to study abroad is to first get to know the course they will take and what it entails. Not all universities are made equal, some have significantly better curriculum than others even if they offer the same course. So, knowing the course one will take well will allow for the individual to expect the challenges and roadblocks they will face.

You wouldn’t want to walk into a lecture hall and think that the first few years of college will be easy only to be sorely mistaken as you realize that the curriculum for the university you have enrolled for differs from what you expected. You can’t win against an enemy you do not know, and you cannot be good at something you are completely unaware of.

It would also be worthwhile if you looked into the how the university you will enroll in grades their students. You may be solely focused on the academic aspect of your course, only to find out that the university also gives bonus points for extra-curricular activities that the students have taken part in.

5. Be knowledgeable in foreign exchange

Exchange rates are constantly changing every minute, and the value of a country’s currency is dependent on the economy of the country. However, no matter the economy of the country you will study in, you must be knowledgeable about exchange rates and foreign exchange if you want to survive studying abroad.

Learn to budget your allowance, as the cost of living may vary from country to country. For instance, even though Singaporean dollars are worth significantly more than the Japanese yen or the Chinese yuan, the costs of the goods in their respective countries will also increase by significantly.

6. Keep yourself updated

Being in another country means one must also be aware of the current events that are occurring not only in their home country but in the country that they are currently in as well. Tune into the local news channel every now and then or look up news articles on the internet to be aware of what is currently happening in the country you are studying in that may affect you in any way.

This will allow you to take preventive measures or prepare for what might come. Being aware or prepared will allow you to not be taken by surprise whenever your lectures get cancelled because of weather issues or other matters.

7. Get registered to your home government

Normally, there will be an embassy of your home country in the country that you are studying in. And it would be a great idea to register yourself as one of the temporary residents of that said country in your embassy. You can do so by arranging the matter in your local municipal hall, or through the internet.

By doing so, you are letting your home country keep track of your whereabouts and the time you spent in the country you are studying in. This will become your insurance whenever you go missing as the embassy and your home government will take action as soon as you are declared a missing person. You will also be protected by your country’s embassy as long as it in within their jurisdiction. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Registering yourself is the best form of insurance you can rely on.

8. Prioritize your health

A new country will bring forth an unfamiliar environment and climate. This can seriously give your body and immune system a shock, especially if the country you are studying in is in a different hemisphere than your home country.

Be sure to keep your immune system in tip-top shape by drinking your daily vitamins and eat nutritious food to keep those pathogens out of your system. Studying abroad means that there will most likely be no one to take care of you when you get sick, so always prioritize your health. You do not want to spend the first week of classes stuck in bed with a fever pad over your forehead, don’t you?

9. Stay in contact

One of the biggest challenges of studying abroad aside from the language barrier is the constant feeling of homesickness that an individual will experience during the first few months of their overseas study. This can easily be overcome by simply keeping in touch with your family and friends often.

With the advancements in technology over these past few years, humanity has finally made video calling possible. So, don’t let it go to waste by not using it to contact the people you left at your home country.

10. Research about banks in your destination

Other than your room, the university you will stay in, and the local supermarket, the next most important facility you should know about is the local banks in your area. Most of the times, students who study abroad receive their monthly allowance through back deposits. And if you prefer to bring cash over credit, then getting to know the location and charges of the banks in your destination will be worth your while.

Some banks charge their customers for overseas card services, and if you want to save a few extra bucks, then open a bank account in that local bank. If the bank doesn’t charge extra overseas bank account, then you can skip the hassle and just do what you would normally do in your previous bank.

If you liked our content and want to learn more, then you can always visit us at FamilyTutor, a leading home tuition in Singapore. If you are planning on studying in a country that uses English, Hindi, Malay, Chinese, or Tamil as the primary language, then you can hire a private tutor to help you get better at the language and overcome the language barrier you will face when studying abroad.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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