You’ve had that moment of sheer exhilaration and relief, now that your university is offering you admission to the course of your choice. After the many hours of effort writing essays and collecting recommendations, you’ve achieved what you were looking for. You have gained entry into distinguished halls of learning in some far-flung corner of the globe.
Once the exhilaration dissipates – the next morning, or a few hours later – the reality will strike. What now? How do I prepare to spend years far away from everything I have ever known? Your enthusiasm will get tempered by the dread of not knowing what comes next. Getting admission will have seemed like the end of a tiresome journey. But now, getting past this point, you’ll realize that your journey has just begun. Here’s a list of things you’ll need to do to make sure that you’re all geared up to get that degree and the life that comes with it:
Admission formalities and steps
The first step is to accept the admission. If you have multiple offers, you will have to choose between different schools. Once that is done, you will have to select your courses, fill out some forms, and make sure that all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. Ensure that you communicate your acceptance well in time – don’t let this amazing opportunity be left vulnerable to delays and procrastination.
Traveling formalities – flight tickets and visas
The applications, forms, and formalities aren’t over. Traveling abroad would require getting a student visa. To apply for that, you’ll first have to book some form of travel to your destination. Try getting into the city a few days before your orientation starts, so you have some time to explore your new home a little bit once you do travel.
But before you can do that, you have to get a student visa. Each country’s rules and regulations with regard to this differ. Make sure you do your research to know what documents you need beforehand. Arrange your affairs accordingly. The smoother you can make this process, the easier and better it’ll be.
New country, culture, customs, and people
The biggest reason for your dread at the prospect of going far from home is the idea of being a stranger in an alien land. The best way to deal with this is to understand the country that is going to be your home for an extended duration of time. Use the internet to learn about their history, culture, and customs. Know their boundaries and their preferences.
Each country has its own unique customs; outlandish as they may be, each has some historical background or explanation. Knowing the source of their cultural ethos would give you a better grasp of the nuances of their customs and behaviour.
Figure out the finances
You’ll need to figure out a budget and a method to get money transferred to-and-fro, and set up a bank account. Make sure you have some money set aside for emergencies, as well as an account or debit/credit card to use in the country. You will have to be living there for some time, so figuring out how much money you will need for daily expenses and for emergencies will depend upon your research.
The internet is replete with resources that will help you estimate your expenses, and your arrangements should account for these things.
Home-in on meals and accommodation
One of the major questions you will have to face would be getting housing on or off your campus. Both approaches come with their own advantages. Off-campus housing is usually cheaper and more flexible, but on-campus housing cuts down travel time and expenditure. On-campus housing also comes with some kind of meal plans, so your decision should take that into account.
If you’re choosing to stay off campus or aren’t taking one of the meal plans, do your homework to find out how you can feed yourself. Eating out daily isn’t a healthy option, and you should know how to cook for yourself in any case. Take some time to learn some basic recipes. Indians have probably gone to the country before you, so try to find some supermarkets in Indian localities to pick up massalas and familiar ingredients.
Find your community
One of the biggest attractions to studying abroad is meeting new people and getting to know them better. You don’t have to wait for the course to start, though; you can easily start making new friends from amongst your colleagues, and get clued in to the latest information from your peers. Join the relevant Facebook groups and seek out your community online.
Connect with other Indians who might be travelling with you, and exchange notes on what your plans are. They might know something you don’t, and you can help them out with some of their decisions as well. This kind of mutual peer support and community will be invaluable once you get to your destination.
Get ready for excitement!
The most important thing is to be prepare for the unexpected. Your time in a foreign country will broaden your horizons and expand your mind. Keep yourself open to the new and unfamiliar, and be prepared to try new things and have fresh experiences.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to feel home when you need to; make it a point to have the ability to get in touch with family, and pack some home food and snacks to munch on when you’re homesick. Also, save money for more important things by getting your hair cut before leaving. Little hacks like that can save you money better used to make the time spent studying abroad the best in your life.