Pre Departure aspects to consider for an Exchange Student
Posted on: February 22 2019, By : Ayush Varhadi
Student exchange is one of the most worthwhile experiences available in colleges and universities today, though preparing to study abroad isn’t something which happens overnight. Between updating your passport, researching your new destination, sorting out your finances and many other little “to-dos”, the planning involved before your departure can often take a few months – a lot more preparation goes into studying abroad than simply packing a quick suitcase the night before.
Though that’s not to mean you should be discouraged – studying abroad will without a doubt rank as one of the most amazing experiences of your life, and while your list of “to-dos” may appear long to begin with, most of the time it’s the case of being full with small, but very important items. You can take guidance from the best study abroad consultants in Mumbai.
Do Your Research
As soon as you receive that letter of acceptance, start researching your host country to make the transition from tourist to local a smooth one. Educate yourself about local customs, current events and laws, and invest in a really good guidebook like Lonely Planet or Frommers.
Source as much pre-departure orientation information from your university or the organization assisting you as possible. Those coordinating your program may even have a checklist already set which they can send through. (HR Manpower agency)
Visit a Travel Doctor
Plan on visiting your doctor and getting a physical before you leave to ensure you are in good health . Bring along a copy of your medical records in case of an emergency overseas.
Furthermore, it's important to know the host country’s immunization requirements and become immunized before your departure. Most programs will advise you on the types of vaccinations you'll need (if any) while abroad.
You’re most likely having your international courses count as credit towards your university degree at home. Make sure that you have made all the necessary arrangements to ensure that you are granted credit for any course work you complete overseas.
Get Travel Insurance
It's important to have a reliable health and accident insurance policy while you are studying abroad, as well as coverage for emergency evacuation and repatriation (but let's hope it never comes to that!).
Your health insurance provider might cover you abroad (not all do, though), but even if it does, there are a couple of things that travel insurance will cover that health insurance won't. For example:
o Coverage if your flight is delayed / canceled
o Lost luggage
o Stolen personal belongings
o Evacuation in the case of a health emergency or natural disaster
Electronic Copies of all Important Documents
Copy all of your important documents (passport, credit cards, ID, insurance, itinerary) and email scanned copies to yourself. Then if you do happen to lose anything, you can always print it out from your closest internet café.
Keep the originals in a safe location; you’re going to be staying put for a while so you don’t need to be carrying them on you.Make sure you include your passport, medical/immunization records, credit cards and phone numbers, insurance cards and claim forms, and anything else which would make your life hell if you misplaced while overseas.
There are a few steps to take in regards to finances before heading off:
Set up an online account
If you don't already have an online bank account, definitely set it up. It's the easiest way to manage your money while abroad. Most international travelers use their ATM/debit or credit cards to get cash in the local currency.
Tell your bank and credit card companies you'll be abroad
You'll need to notify your current bank and credit card companies about your plans to study abroad. Otherwise, you risk getting locked out of your account while abroad (they might flag it as fraud).
Pack some extra cash
For those first few days, I recommend carrying between the equivalence of $100-$200 in the currency of your host country. Those days may be busy, but finding an ATM or bank should be relatively easy. If you are unable to obtain the currency at home, the airport is a great option to withdraw cash at an ATM right as you arrive.
Create a list of emergency contacts (all the people you could contact if you need help), and keep this list handy at all times (keep a copy of this list with your important documents too).
Make sure you’ve included the contact information for people like your mentors and teachers at your host university, the emergency services number in your host country (ie 911 in the US or 000 in Australia), and it probably wouldn’t hurt to keep the contact details of your classmates and friends abroad. Also include the number for your bank to report lost and stolen credit cards.
Two words: pack light! Be sure to double check with your airline to learn their luggage allowances to avoid fees. Personally, I'd suggest packing no more than:
One checked bag.
One daybag (e.g. a backpack) as your carry on.
One personal item, like a purse .
Seriously, if you check two bags, you'll only be weighing yourself down (literally) and making that end-of-study-abroad trip unnecessarily cumbersome. Personally, I love traveling with my 45-liter Osprey bag and a tote. It's been my go-to luggage for everything from 2-month to 2-year long trips.
Some other useful packing tips include:
• Bring travel sized toiletries to get through your first two weeks and stock up once you arrive.
• Plan to buy a cheap towel / sheets on arrival instead of wasting space on that.
• Stick to 3 pairs of shoes -- 4 if you must.
• Bring power adapters for your electronics.
• Ladies, leave the blowdryer / flat iron at home. The voltage differences in most countries (including most of Europe) will fry them. Get a cheap one in country and leave your nice stuff at home.
• Bring a few momentos of home to help with homesickness.
• If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure bring extra pairs with you.
• Ask your study abroad program for a suggested packing list, and keep in mind that many of the items you may want to bring will be available overseas. Note the weather in the country you are studying in, as packing your winter coat for January south of the equator might just be silly.(HR Academy)
• Don't forget to bring photos, recipes, and other mementos from home to help during those homesick moments. Consider bringing a journal or notebook to reflect and write about your study abroad experience. Small souvenirs from your life back home also make great gifts for new friends or host families.
Cell Phones and Staying in Touch with Home
How else will you regale everyone back home with wonderful stories about the amazing time you are having?! Most students rely on two options for communicating with friends and family: cell phone or laptop.
As for cell phones, just don't get an international plan. Ever. Especially since you're going to be abroad for more than a week, these plans are unsustainable and way overpriced. Instead, get a local SIM card (which you can get on arrival in the airport) and a pay-as-you-go plan (which is the norm in most non-U.S. countries). This is also great since it'll give you a local number -- perfect for handing to new friends!
Typically, texting the folks back home on a local phone isn't too pricey, but phone calls will be. So, if you want to sit down and talk, your best bet is to connect over WhatsApp or Skype. Tip: set mom and dad up with an account before you go.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
While studying abroad you will definitely encounter people with different concepts of time and personal space. Be ready to learn and observe these differences without being judgmental. It will be these very same differences that will undoubtedly enrich your understanding of your own culture.
While goodbyes can be tough, they're a necessary part of this journey. And just think of all the excitement you have yet to come! Expect the unexpected!