Opinion

Five Things To Consider Before Studying Abroad

Congratulations! After years of preparation, you have finally been accepted to the overseas university of your dreams. A new adventure awaits as you broaden your personal and professional horizons.  But you’re not done yet: there are still many things to resolve before boarding your flight.

Passport: Make sure that your passport is valid not only for the duration of your studies but for six months afterwards. A new passport can take several weeks to process, so it is important to plan ahead. Carry some copies of your passport (both paper and digital), which can save you a headache if you lose your passport overseas.

Visa: Your school can provide information about what visas or study authorization you need to complete your education. For an education in the United States, an F-1 is the more common option, but your school may recommend a J-1 visa instead. For Canada, students can either pursue the Student Direct Stream (SDS) or obtain a study permit. SDS is faster but has greater hurdles to overcome. Students in Canada should also consider obtaining a U.S. tourist visa, in anticipation of trips stateside with classmates.

Medical Exam: It is important to schedule a thorough medical check-up from your doctor, and to carry the report with you for emergencies or in the event that an immigration officer requests it. Your school can provide information about what information to request. If you require prescription medication, make sure that you have at least a few months supply (with a doctor’s note) before you depart India, to allow time to obtain an American/Canada prescription once you arrive.

Insurance: Travel and overseas insurance can protect you in the event of flight cancellation/delays, lost or stolen luggage, and many other concerns. Many Indian firms provide services catering to overseas students. Consider a comparison site like PolicyBazaar to compare rates and coverage.

Finances: Ensure that you have funding secured for the entire duration of your education – including living expenses like housing and meals. Notify your bank of your travel dates, and be aware of overseas charges that your credit/debit card may incur. Bring about ₹20,000 in local currency to last a few days once you arrive overseas, and do some advanced research about which bank(s) near your university is ready to help international students open a bank account or credit card.

There are countless other small things to consider, including studying the host country’s culture/customs, having your day-of-arrival logistics settled, and bringing a power converter for your electronics. But having the above five points resolved should help to ensure a smooth journey. Bon, voyage!

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Sasha Ramani

Sasha Ramani is the Head of Canada and Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing a provider of scholarships and loans to international students pursuing university in Canada and the United States. He studied at the University of Waterloo (Canada), Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada), and Harvard University (USA)

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