Moving abroad to study is no small task and can lead to plenty of headaches down the line if you don’t consider things carefully before setting off. To help ensure students experience a smooth move, here are a few essential things they need to think about before moving to their new home – from handy packing tips to useful advice about language learning.
First things first, how will you support yourself? This may sound like a strange one to begin with, but you’d be surprised by just how many students don’t fully consider their finances before moving.
The attraction of a new life and a new start abroad can be intoxicating, and lead you to make rash decisions and head off too soon. So before you pack your bags, make sure you’ve got everything in order, even if you already have a student loan/grant/scholarship, a part-time job lined up or a passive income to keep you afloat.
Either way, it’s always helpful to have enough savings to support yourself to begin with. Besides, moving to your new home a few weeks before you start studying can give you some time to explore your surroundings and settle in, without the added stress of adjusting to a new course.
Packing your life away can take up a lot of space, and space when moving abroad comes at a premium. So to make your move cheaper and less chaotic, think about what you’ll really need in your new home. For example, if the climate in the US is warmer than that of your home country, will you really need all those thick winter clothes?
Clothing can pile up quickly, so before you start packing, it’s a good idea to invest in some vacuum bags. These are simple to use and, once filled with your clothes, can be used to compress your luggage so that it stays fresh, nicely pressed and takes up less room.
Gadgets are another must-have item when you relocate. It’s important to backup your files before moving, though, especially the photos and videos you hold dearest, as even the most well protected laptops and devices can be damaged en route. Take plenty of plug-in adapters with you as well, as there’s nothing worse than carrying a heavy laptop halfway round the world to realise you can’t use it straightaway.
Making sure your visas and passports are in order is a must before moving – you won’t get far without them. So before making tracks, research all of the legal red tape you’re likely to encounter. What are the rules and limitations of your visa? Will you be entitled to things like healthcare, or will you need a health insurance plan to cover you while living abroad? Considering these matters before moving abroad is imperative to a smooth transition, as well as returning home if you need to, and can save you money in the long run.
If you’re not a native English speaker, learning a new language can be hard – but it can make the difference between fitting in and feeling isolated when you first arrive. Knowing a few handy phrases and having a reasonable understanding of the local lingo before you move can make relocating a lot simpler too.
One of the main roadblocks to learning a new language for many people are memories of school and the thought of spending hours sat in front of a desk reciting from a textbook. This type of learning, however, though common, isn’t the best way to retain new words and can actually hamper your ability to recall new vocabulary.
To truly learn a language, you need to spend hours immersing yourself in it, using books, songs, speaking to native speakers and watching foreign TV and film. Learning this way also teaches you colloquial, everyday language and can help you to sound more like a native speaker.
Settling into your new home
Getting used to your new surroundings can take some time, so make sure you put plenty of effort into getting settled before you start your course – taking home comforts like your favourite snacks can make a real difference when you’re feeling homesick.
Feeling like you’re truly ‘home’ is important, which is why you’ll need to try and get out of the habit of referring to your old home as ‘back home’. This kind of comparative language can feel so natural and automatic, which is why it can be difficult to shift the habit. But to keep homesickness at bay and to help you settle, it’s best to avoid using phrases like these.
Moving to a new country is never simple and can involve jumping a lot of hurdles before you even get to passport control. Take plenty of time to organise certificates and visas, ensure you have plenty of savings to fall back on and get to know the language before you move abroad – all of these things can make your transition much smoother and simplify your integration.
Sabrina Bucknole is a professional copywriter from the United Kingdom. When she’s not looking for her next adventure abroad, she spends her time writing about travel, international living and studying abroad. Some of her most recent, previous work includes: https://www.livinginperu.com/5-reasons-why-peru-is-attractive-to-expats/ and https://www.recruiter.com/i/taking-a-job-abroad-get-these-10-things-in-order-first/