Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity and one that is a unique experience that might even change your life. But along with the excitement and adventure come nerves and a whole new set of problems to overcome. It can be even more of a trial if it’s the first time you’ve lived away from home, and you have to learn to look after yourself in another country. From handling money across international borders to learning a new language, there are lots of challenges to face. But you can also have one of the best times of your life, whether you’re having a semester abroad or completing a full-time course there. Check out this guide to getting started once you find your placement.
When you have a study abroad placement through your college or have been accepted onto a degree course, you’ll need to find somewhere to stay. Some college programs will set you up with a dorm room or perhaps a place with a local family. But sometimes it’s up to you to find out where you’re going to be living. If you’re starting an undergraduate degree, your university will probably tell you how to apply for their accommodation. But you could also look for somewhere independently if you would rather live in a private home. Student services can usually help you with this too, or you can look for estate agents that offer accommodation for students.
Your time studying might be the first time you’ve handled large amounts of money. If you have an education placement, you’ve probably already thought about how you’re going to finance your stay. Some countries will have help for international students or might not charge tuition fees at all. But the chances are that, for a full-time course, you need to pay out of your own pocket (or using a loan). It can be costly sending money abroad, but you may need to do so regularly to pay for your course and accommodation. It’s best to use a specialized service that can get you the best exchange rates, so that you don’t lose too much cash wiring it from one currency to another.
You’ll need to manage your personal finances too, including food, bills and money for going out. If you stay in university accommodation, you at least won’t have to worry about bills. It helps to draw up a budget to help you keep on top of how much you’re spending. You might struggle with a foreign currency at first, but eventually you’ll get used to it and stop converting it in your head. There are other challenges you might face, from cooking to doing your laundry (if you don’t already do them). It can be overwhelming at first, but eventually you’ll be proud of how far you’ve come.
There are other things that might concern you when studying abroad, including language barriers and homesickness. But you’ll be there to learn and experience new things, and everything will be another new lesson or memory.
This was originally published at Miss Millennia Magazine