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Studying abroad - What you need to know

27th February 2014 Print

Choosing to study abroad can be a big decision. It's an exciting and challenging idea that appeals to many people, whether through pursuing post-education or simply by following one of the many Israel study abroad programmes. It's important to explore both the positives and negatives when considering the possibility – here are some of the key factors to take into account before finalising any plans.

Studying plays a big part!

This might seem an obvious point. However, it's always amazing to see just how many people hear ‘studying abroad’ and instantly forget the ‘studying’ bit! No matter how beautiful the country you’re in, the main requirement is still to attend classes, plough through those textbooks and produce 5,000 word essay pieces. If you just fancy a massive jolly up in a foreign country, it's actually much more sensible to schedule a proper holiday in during the summer months and concentrate on studying in term time! Give this some thought.

Have your paperwork in order

It’s understandable that your focus is on the exciting period ahead, the experience of sampling a different culture and lifestyle abroad. But it’s important that everything is in order prior to arriving in your chosen country. If you’re going to be studying outside the European Union, you’ll need a visa or work permit – if you’re off to Canada, for example, this article from the University of Leeds has visa guidelines – and this is your responsibility to arrange. You will, of course, also need a valid British passport. Don’t forget the small but vital details.

Have a support network in place

Arriving in the completely new environment of an unfamiliar country is unsettling for anyone. There’s a lot to adjust to, and there are bound to be moments when you need a bit of help. If you’re studying abroad, for a year, for example, as part of a UK University course, make sure you’re armed with all the emergency contacts you need. UK Universities will typically have a study abroad office number, 24-hour emergency contact numbers, and so on. Don’t lose them – and use them, if and when you need.

Embrace the change

Homesickness isn’t pleasant but hopefully, if you’ve taken the decision to study abroad, you’re already mentally set to handle being away from home, and home comforts, for a time. The best way to tackle any feelings of loneliness is to embrace your new surroundings. It isn’t like home and never will be – that’s why you decided to move abroad in the first place. Make an effort to understand a little of the language (if this is daunting, prioritise an English-speaking destination), join clubs, force yourself to be sociable, and make the very most of what will probably be a special year or period in your life.

Talk to others

If you’re tempted by the idea of studying abroad but are still not quite ready to take the plunge, hear what others have to say about the experience. If you’re attending a UK University, you’ll be able to seek other students who have spent a year abroad. If you’re looking to spend three or four years studying for a degree abroad, and intend to go through the whole process of applying to an overseas college, you might find an organisation such as A Star Future useful to consult. Their website has testimonials from students attending universities abroad so you can hear from those with first hand experience.