7 Ways to Prepare Yourself for University Education Overseas
Many students nurture an ambition to study abroad for university, and you might be one of them. Maybe it’s because you’re interested in a highly specialized degree program and it’s only offered in schools overseas. Maybe you’d like to leave your comfort zone at home and learn independence and self-sufficiency, which you’ll be able to do by studying abroad. Or maybe an academic degree from a foreign university will give you better chances at succeeding in a certain career.
Whatever the case, a university education overseas is something that you have to prepare for. In order for you to enjoy your study experience abroad to the fullest, it’s best to lay out the groundwork well in advance. Below is a list of seven things that you should attend to before you leave the nest to study overseas. The earlier you plan, the smoother your transition into your new life will be.
Look Up the Top Schools and Programs for Your Desired Degree
The first thing you have to do is to make a short list of schools and degree programs you’re aiming for. You should have a sense of which schools offer the most competitive programs, as well as which countries it would be easiest for you to travel to. One thing you should remember is not to join the bandwagon, or choose a certain college, degree program, or country because that’s where all your friends want to go. Choose according to what aligns with your individual interests and your dreams for the future.
Invest in an International Baccalaureate Diploma
It may be a significant investment on your family’s part, but joining an international diploma program like that of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization could be highly advantageous to your study plans. If you plan to enroll in an American university or in a European university outside of the United Kingdom, completing the IB program may improve your chances of admission. Consider enrolling in one of the top IB schools in Singapore and accomplish the two-year requirements for the diploma. Your dream university may see this as proof that you’ve undergone a well-rounded and academically rigorous education, and thus, they would be more willing to admit you into one of their degree programs.
Connect with and Seek Advice from Current University Students and Alumni
Say that you’ve begun narrowing down your options for which university to enroll in. If you’ve got several good choices, which one should you settle on? One thing that can help you decide is the advice of current students and alumni, especially those who were also international students. See if you can contact any former or current students of those universities, particularly those who hail from the same country or cultural background as you. Ask them about their experiences of academics, student life, and life overseas. If something resonates with you, keep it in mind when you make the choice of where to study.
Get Your Passport and Visa in Order
When your plans to travel are more or less set in stone, it will be time to renew your passport and apply for a visa to your country of destination. For additional details on what you need for a student visa, look for instructions from the foreign embassy. Get started on your passport and visa requirements as soon as possible as it can sometimes take weeks or even months to secure the full approval of all concerned offices.
Get Student Health Insurance and Health Checkups
The next step is to get the health requirements in your country of study and to get student health insurance to cover you in dire situations. Find out whether your country of destination needs you to be updated with certain vaccines or requires you to have been cleared of certain illnesses. You will likely be able to obtain this information from your university’s admissions or health offices. Once you know for sure, visit a doctor and get all your requirements in working order. As an added precaution against unpredictable situations, like getting sick or injured while abroad, sign up for a student health insurance program. You can ask for recommendations from the school, your parents, or from current or former international students.
Look for Housing Options
Once you’ve confirmed your slot for a particular university, it will then be time to hunt for appropriate housing options. First, you’ll have to decide whether it’s best to stay in a dorm-style accommodation on campus or off campus, or to rent your own room or apartment. Weigh your options according to the cost, the size of the space, the level of access to public transportation, and the proximity to your campus, among others. Choose carefully, as this will be your home while you’re away overseas.
Learn the Language and Customs of the Country You’ll Stay In
Lastly, don’t forget that you’ll be immersing yourself in a brand-new community with its own way of life. It would be a very good idea to learn at least one of the languages spoken there, and to research extensively on their customs and laws. You will still need to acclimatize once you arrive, but learning about the country and the university community in advance will quickly help you feel at home. Pretty soon, you’ll stop feeling like a total stranger and get fully comfortable in your new life.
If you’d like some more advice, here are a few more tips on preparing to study abroad. Don’t limit yourself strictly to what’s on this list, and feel free to research more according to your needs. But all in all, doing the prep work will ensure that your time abroad is a fruitful and memorable one. May you have a safe journey to your new home university, and may you experience the academic life, independence, and cultural immersion that you’re looking for!