Going abroad for higher studies is one of the most exciting prospects in a student’s life. However, all the exams, planning, and interviewing often leave students unprepared to actually live in their new surroundings. Shiny brochures and accolades aside, what exactly do students need to do from the time they get off the plane until they settle in and start focusing on making the most of their university life? While exact procedures vary by university and location, here is what you can expect from your first week abroad as an international student:
Moving into your accommodation- Getting from the airport to your accommodation can be a hassle. As an international student, literally, everything may be unfamiliar as far as navigation and location go. However, certain universities offer student pick-up services and buddy programs so that you are not left to fend for yourself on your first day. If that is not the case for you, it is good to research public transport and Uber booking processes before you reach the country.
You may be asked to fill out some paperwork when you get to your residence, but this is rarely extensive as most formalities are done before you even enter the country. Some international students today use professional accommodation services which can prepare you with any paperwork or identification process for their housing needs. You will then begin the process of moving in and figuring out where things are around the housing (laundry, mailbox, housing society office, etc.). If you are living with another student, this may be the first time you meet each other.
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Get in touch with your university- Your University will have a set of administrative requirements that you will need to fulfill before you can officially attend any classes. These are basic forms and paperwork that get you registered into the various college systems, assign you ID numbers, collect contact details, etc. Be ready to spend some time here and come prepared with stationary, IDs, and any paperwork the university may have requested.
Another important possibility to keep in mind is fresher’s week programs. Certain universities proactively introduce students to their city and college in a tour-style induction process. While uncommon, such programs can be very effective at introducing you to life in your new surroundings and may even encompass a few of the points we discuss further on.
Get a bank account and register with the locality- One of the important steps in starting your life abroad is setting up a valid bank account. Most banks offer specialized student schemes with provisions for the duration of stay, credit limits, forex rates, etc. Each country will stipulate different paperwork to open an account, but in general: your passport, proof of enrollment, proof of residence, and insurance details are bare necessities.
Another administrative requirement, especially in Europe, might be to register with the local council or city government so as to authenticate your presence at the location for however long you study. However, if you decide to use professional accommodation services, you may not have to worry about the technicalities as much because services like UniAcco collaborate directly with local partners to help their clients get settled into their new environments quickly.
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Learn about transportation and get connected - Many student cities in the world rely heavily on public transport on account of its convenience and low cost. Registering for a train/bus pass might be absolutely vital in expensive cities like London and Amsterdam if you want to keep prices reasonable.
Any international student understands the importance of Wi-Fi over a fancy meal or even furniture in the house. Registering for an internet plan is usually quick, especially if your residence is used to hosting students. Speak to the building administrators and other students from your university to quickly learn exactly how to get connected. Additionally, don’t forget about your phone. Research international talk time plans in your destination and is absolutely sure that your new number works. Everyone from your university to your parents will need it over the course of your stay.
Get comfortable - At some point in your first week, you may realise that you will be calling this unfamiliar country ‘home’ for the next few years. It is therefore essential for you to familiarize yourself with your new city. Figure out the landmarks, the boroughs, and the popular hangouts early on when you are free, and find a social group if you can.
Doing these steps may seem like slacking off at first, but they will ensure that you are able to integrate yourself into your surroundings and enjoy a better quality of life for however many years you reside abroad.