What do I need to know before going to study abroad?

Studying abroad offers many young people the opportunity to secure a good career and find an interesting job. However, before they can do so, they must complete their studies, which requires good preparation and careful planning. Here are a few tips to help you study abroad with peace of mind.

Finding accommodation

Once you have enrolled at the university or institution of your choice, you must move on to an essential stage in your life as a future student in a foreign country. This is the search for accommodation. This search can turn into a real ordeal if you don’t prepare for it sufficiently in advance.

There are several accommodation possibilities for a student abroad, the most economical and the simplest is to take advantage of on-campus housing. This reduces travel, which is a definite advantage in a city you don’t know. Depending on your budget and the availability of accommodation, you can also opt for shared accommodation, renting an apartment in a private home or in youth hostels, which only exist in certain countries.

Managing your money

Studying abroad is usually expensive. According to a study carried out by HSBC in 2014, the average cost of a year’s study in the United States is $36,564 or €28,300, compared with $35,045 or €27,100 for the United Kingdom and $42,093 or €32,500 for Australia. With such a cost, obtaining a scholarship is an opportunity to be seized, but one must persevere because the candidates are often very numerous.

The Erasmus+ programme, which succeeds Erasmus for the period 2014-2020, is essentially intended to cover the difference in the cost of studying abroad. If you wish to continue your studies in the United States to obtain an MBA for example and you are already at Master or PhD level, “graduate” in English, you can apply for a scholarship from the Franco-American Commission or the Fullbright Commission. You can also apply for an international mobility grant to be awarded by the higher education institution where you are registered. This grant is worth €400 per month for a maximum of 2 to 9 months and is paid in addition to your scholarship.

You also need a bank account to manage your budget. An account opened in the host country will make life much easier for you, particularly because it is close to a branch and you will be able to meet with an advisor if you need one. Many banks also offer advantageous conditions to students, such as an interest-free overdraft. In addition, you should know that if you use your French bank card to pay for your expenses abroad, you will have to bear significant financial charges. These include exchange commissions and fees for its use abroad.

Organising a minimum

Far from being an adventure to be experienced on a day-to-day basis, studying abroad requires careful preparation and a great sense of organization, even before you leave French soil. Among the tips to remember, it is important to know that enrolment in your chosen institution is an essential step to which you must pay particular attention. It is important to make sure that you do so well in advance, as places are usually very competitive. It is also more prudent to register in several universities and programs so that you have an alternative in case your application is refused by the institution of your first choice.

Don’t forget to photocopy all your documents. Whether it is your passport, your confirmation of studies, your birth certificate, or even your itinerary, it is always important to keep a copy. At the same time, take care of all the other administrative procedures such as obtaining a student card or getting transportation to the school. If possible, scan them and then post them on Google Docs or another clouding site. If necessary, simply open them and print them.

Take out a suitable insurance policy

While studying abroad, even for just a few months, you are not immune to illness or accident. Taking out student health insurance before you leave allows you to approach your stay with peace of mind. Indeed, the quality of care differs from one country to another, but with this insurance, you benefit from optimal coverage. You can be sure that you will receive the best care or be hospitalized in the best facilities if you need it.

It makes sense to take out insurance that includes repatriation assistance. Civil Liability insurance as part of an internship is also recommended if you have to do an internship as a VIE. In some cases, contracts include a clause if you have to interrupt your studies because your tuition fees are too high.

Feeling surrounded

The last thing you should do when studying abroad is to isolate yourself and stay behind your books all day long. Take every opportunity to get to know other students, whether it is during classes, in the library, at the university restaurant or on campus. This open-mindedness will allow you to discover new cultures and to make new contacts.

Universities often organize integration evenings or outings to discover the region, an opportunity for you to visit your host country while making new acquaintances. Whenever possible, get out of your circle of French friends in order to make the most of this linguistic bath to master a foreign language. Finally, most higher education institutions have accounts on social networks and regularly publish events, outings and exhibitions. You just need to consult them to keep yourself informed and meet other students.

Don’t give up

In the beginning, loneliness may weigh on you and you will certainly miss your loved ones. You may be tempted to want to go home as soon as you have your first weekend off. However, if you resist your desire to see your parents and friends again, you can quickly adapt to your host country and enjoy its cultural and human richness.

Keep in mind that many students are in the same situation as you are and that a smile or a handshake is often enough to make friends and lay the foundations for a beautiful friendship. Take your pain patiently and wait until you are well integrated before you finally go home. And if you are homesick, advances in technology allow you to communicate with your loved ones at a relatively low cost.

Studying abroad is a real springboard for an active life. It is far from being a mere formality because of the many difficulties that await the candidates. The main tips you can take away to overcome these pitfalls can be summed up in two words: preparation and organization.