General Preparation For Students Going To Study Abroad

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General Preparation For Students Going To Study Abroad

Guten tag! Konnichiwa! Bienvenido! Namaste! That’s just few ways to welcome someone, but there are hundreds out there. The world is truly massive and contains billions of people in thousands of unique and distinct cultures.

Study abroad is the term given to a program, usually run through a University, which allows a student to live in a foreign country and attend a foreign University. In some cases, two Universities have an arrangement which allows them to exchange students (hence the term ‘exchange student’) so that these students can learn about a foreign culture and broaden their horizons.

Once you have officially accepted an offer in a University abroad, it’s time to do the planning and logistical work of preparing to make the move. This can be very overwhelming, so here we have provided steps you will need to take care of.

Right Documentation: Studying abroad means travelling to another country. In order to do this, you will need a passport. Passports can take a few weeks to process, so it is best to coordinate as early on as possible with the issuing authorities.

You will be asked to show your passport as you leave your country, as well as when you enter the new country. You may also be required to have a visa for studying abroad; this all depends on the country you are headed to. It is recommended that you check with your advisor to make sure you know exactly what you need and make digital and physical copies of both your passport and visa.

Tip: Keep a pen with you on the plane and your passport handy, as you’ll likely need to fill out a bit of paperwork before entering your study abroad destination.

Student Visa Checklist: Here are the most common documents you would require for your student visa. For a detailed document list as per your chosen country, discuss with your counsellor.

  • Evidence of enrolment in a recognised educational institution
  • Residence permit applications (it varies by the country)
  • Evidence of language certification (if needed)
  • Evidence of parental/guardian consent (if underage/as per legal requirement)
  • Evidence of funding (your capacity to cover the cost involved in studying and sustaining abroad)
  • Passport size photographs
  • Copy of the current passport
  • Vaccination results (if required, it varies by the country)

Figure out Your Stay: Unless you have been offered an on-campus accommodation, you’ll have to figure out where to live when studying abroad. You can look for rooms on rent, home-stay or find a local host. The cost will vary from city to city. If you choose to rent an apartment, you will have to additionally pay for utility bills like electricity, internet, water usage, etc.

Plane Tickets: The most ideal time to purchase your plane ticket is in the 3-4 month range prior to your departure, as this is when the price is typically the lowest. Your plane ride will be a great start to the adventure. You can choose a window or aisle seat, you might get your own personal TV screen for a movie marathon, and the food isn’t as bad as it once was.

Make a Budget: Managing your money is one of the most difficult things to do abroad. With so many new experiences at your fingertips, it’s easy to blow money. You should absolutely make the most of your study abroad experience. But you can do it in a reasonable way that’s within your budget. Your budget will vary based on where you study abroad – there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all budget as some countries are more affordable than others.

Some Basic Budget Tips

  • Bring your student ID everywhere – Many countries offer student discount cards, and often bringing your student ID around can get you into museums and other tourist attractions at a reduced price. Many stores and restaurants will offer discounts for students too.
  • Prepare meals at home – Eating out can add up really quickly. If you’re on a small budget, cooking the majority of your meals at home is a great way to save money. You can still take advantage of local foods – but preparing them at home will cut costs.
  • Find free activities Some things do cost money – but you’d be surprised at the number of things you can do for free. Do research on outdoor activities (including outdoor gyms), beaches, free museums, parks and local festivals.
  • Check your budget often Making an ambitious budget before you leave can’t hurt, but you should revise once you get to the country and get a better sense of what things will cost. Also be sure to regularly check your bank account.
  • Research cheap ways to travel – If you want to travel even more during your study abroad period, research on cheap ways to do it. Cheap airlines might be a good bet for you, and look at trains and busses too. For inter-city travel, you might consider investing in a bicycle. It’s great exercise and might be cheaper than taking a bus or train. Also consider walking.

What to pack: Is your flight date approaching? Better get serious about packing. Every region will require different items to bring, and many items you can buy there.

The General Study Abroad Packing List


  • Passport (and copy of your passport)
  • Visa
  • Local currency if needed
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Health insurance card
  • Student ID
  • Driver’s license
  • Any prescriptions you take with the original prescription printed
  • Wallet


·        14 pairs of underwear

·        2-3 sweaters (one lighter, one heavier)

·        3-4 regular bras and 2 sports bras if you wear them

·        1 raincoat

·        1 sweatshirt

·        12 pairs of socks, 1-2 pairs of tights

·        2 jeans

·        1 light jacket (denim jacket, for example)

·        1-2 pants

·        1 heavier jacket (location dependent)

·        1-2 shorts

·        1 pair athletic sneakers

·        2 skirts

·        1 pair comfortable walking shoes

·        2-3 dresses

·        1 pair dressier shoes (flats, heels, nice loafers)

·        2-3 tank tops

·        1 pair slippers/flip-flops

·        4-5 short sleeve shirts

·        1 pair sandals (location dependent)

·        2-3 long sleeve shirts

·        1 pair gloves (location dependent)

·        1 formal outfit (blazer and trousers or a nice dress)

·        Purse

·        2 athletic shorts or leggings

·        Tote bag

·        2 athletic shirts

·        Backpack

·        1 swimsuit/swim trunks

·        Umbrella

·        2 pyjamas

·        Sunglasses


Toiletries take up a lot of space in a suitcase, so only bring small travel sizes to last you a week or two and then buy new stuff in your new country.

Toiletries – Bring from home

  • Deodorant or antiperspirant (might not be the same depending where you’re going)
  • Your favourite makeup (can be quite expensive abroad)
  • Sunscreen
  • Over-the-counter drugs like Crocin or Benadryl (check country restrictions first, but know that not all of your favourite Over the Counter (OTC) medicines will be available in a drugstore abroad)
  • Menstrual products if you use them (can be different from what you’re used to abroad)
  • Travel sizes of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, facial cleanser and moisturizer
  • Any skincare items you cannot live without and know you can’t buy there
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Contacts and contact solution
  • Hair brush or comb

Toiletries – Buy there

·        Shampoo

·        Face wash

·        Nail clippers

·        Conditioner

·        Lotion

·        Bandages

·        Soap

·        Laundry detergent

·        Hand sanitizer

·        Body wash

·        Toothpaste

·        Razors


  • Laptop and charger
  • Phone and charger
  • Power adapter/converter
  • Flash drive
  • Headphones
  • Power bank/portable phone charger
  • Camera and charger
  • USB cable

Consciously Protect your Valuables: You will likely be travelling with a few of your most prized possessions in tow, maybe your laptop, your smartphone, your iPod, your passport, some nice jewellery, or money. It is essential that you actively make an effort to keep track of your belongings.

While theft isn’t necessarily a greater risk abroad than at home, you will likely be more distracted. Before you leave your hostel, apartment/home-stay, place your money in a money belt or in various places on your persons. Lock up any possessions you leave behind.

Tip: Avoid wearing flashy clothes or accessories that draw instant attention to your economic status.

Get your Bank and Online Password Situations in Order: One of the greatest frustrations you might encounter while studying abroad is confusion with your bank. Make sure you alert them in advance and give them specific dates about when and where you are studying abroad. In this way, you will significantly decrease the chances of having a chaotic moment when your ATM card or credit card is declined suddenly.

Many study abroad students choose to travel with a debit card instead of cash. Students take out sums of money from the ATM as needed, as foreign ATMs distribute money in the local currency. This helps avoid long lines at the bank.

Medicines and Insurance: If you are taking prescription medications already, you would be wise to coordinate with your doctor to fill these for the duration of your study abroad program. It would be unreliable to expect your study abroad destination to have your specific drugs at the ready.

Over the counter drugs can be easily found abroad but sometimes have different names; all it takes is a quick Google search to figure out what to look for in the local pharmacy.

If you do encounter a need for medical services abroad, try not to panic! Most foreign countries will have decent medical facilities to take care of you. Make sure you travel to the clinic or the hospital with your passport and insurance card in tow. It is likely you will have to pay for the medical expenses upfront and later claim them through your insurance.

Location-Specific Style Advice: The University you join abroad may have a dress code to maintain the good image of the University. Climate and hence lifestyle vary across continents. Listed below are some of the popular study abroad countries on what items you’ll generally see on students in these countries.

United States of America

American college students tend to dress in a very relaxed way to class. Many students wear sweatpants and sweatshirts or leggings and a t-shirt. But you’ll often see a lot of diversity in terms of personal style. Some people will dress up more, and expect to see “preppy” fashion on the East Coast and in the South – polos, button-down shirts, bright patterned skirts, and boat shoes. In cities like Washington, D.C. and New York, you’ll see more black and neutral colours and more trendy clothes. The West Coast is also quite trendy – think loose silhouettes, white denim and bohemian style.

United Kingdom

Unlike in the US, you won’t see sweatpants here in classrooms. Many UK students are quite interested in of-the-moment trends. All individual styles are welcome, but you can’t go wrong with a loose denim jacket, high-waist pants or jeans, leather jackets, white sneakers, black low boots, and athletic wear.


Australian students have diverse style but comfort is important. On University campuses, expect to see low-key style: a lot of denim, white sneakers, sandals and canvas tote bags/backpacks. Depending on where you are in the country, it can be extremely hot so be sure to pack accordingly.

New Zealand

New Zealanders are casual and chic, and most certainly do not wear sweatshirts to class. You’ll see a lot of black and gray here, and while those unaware might think that as an island country it’s just warm all the time – this is wrong! You will definitely need warm clothing in the summer, but it can be quite windy and cold in the winter, so bring a heavy coat. New Zealanders are into practical and easy style, but don’t mistake that for uninteresting.


Japanese students are quite chic, and if you’re in a major city like Tokyo, you’ll see a lot of urban street style. Modesty is also important, so stray away from short shorts. Students definitely dress up to go to class, and you’ll even see students wear heels instead of sneakers.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong students usually wear T Shirts (quite plain), shorts (casual ones), trousers, jeans, and skirts. Generally wardrobe is of T-shirts, trousers and shorts (cotton). They are cheap; they are suitable for attending various functions and are comfortable.


Comfortable and plain-coloured tees. Plain or coloured t-shirts are a staple for any college student who wants a quick and fuss-free way to get ready for class. You can easily pair them with jeans or pants for those lazy days when you don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what to wear.


  • What is Study Abroad? – Definition & Benefits

  • Your New Study Abroad Checklist + Tips to Prepare

  • Step-by-step guide to studying overseas

  • How to Study Abroad: The Ultimate Guide for International Students

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