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STUDY ABROAD : Before you leave - Must read

The ultimate study abroad preparation checklist

It's normal to feel a bit apprehensive when moving abroad to study as a student. However, there are some practical steps you can take to ensure that you make a smooth transition.

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So, you’ve made the very significant decision to study abroad. You’ll likely feel a mix of emotions, from excitement to anxiety. Perhaps you have more questions than answers at this point, in spite of all your preparations for this next stage of your life. While a bit of trepidation is normal, don’t let it overwhelm you as there some key steps you can take to feel more prepared and confident. We explore some study abroad preparation tips on how best to get ready when studying for a degree abroad.


Check that you have key documents


While this tip seems obvious it should be on top of any study abroad preparation checklist. You need to make sure that you have your essential documents organised and on-hand so that you can easily access and produce these when necessary. This is especially true of your student visa, which is your access card to the country you have chosen. Applying for a visa can take time so don’t wait too long to do so after you have received your letter of offer or confirmation.  Other documents which you’ll need include:


  • Passport (ensure it’s up to date)
  • Identification (driver’s license / ID document)
  • Letter of offer
  • Receipt of payments
  • Accommodation details
  • Insurance
  • Academic information (transcripts, records)
  • Plane ticket


It’s also possible that you will need to produce evidence of medical test results, such as a physical exam, vaccination or virus test. You may also need to have medical prescriptions filled before leaving. Try and get these sorted out in advance if possible, so that you are not rushing around close to your departure date.


A top tip is also to investigate travel insurance, which can give you cover on things like cancelled flights, lost luggage and even illness.


Research your study abroad destination


Moving to a new country involves getting used to a different environment, culture and lifestyle. Prior to leaving it’s a great idea to familiarise yourself with your destination country, city and university. This can cover everything from knowing your way around and key landmarks to customs and culture as well as the costs involved in living there.  Take a look at some of the student cities in the UK:



A lot of your research can be done online, but sometimes it’s also nice to chat with someone who has studied abroad or a current international student at your prospective university. You can contact your university’s international office or student support services to see what options you have available for online orientation.


Finding out about your new home is the exciting part of the preparation. You can consider what sort of lifestyle you would like to have, checking out university societies and clubs, as well as activities, hobbies and attractions outside of university life. You never know you could discover a new talent or find an exciting array of novel food options.


Have a look at our guides to what makes studying in the UK unique and some of the top things to do in Canada as a student. You can also explore some of the most popular student cities in Australia and Ireland:




Confirm your accommodation


Knowing where you will be staying and that you have somewhere to go when you arrive is essential. Don’t leave organising your accommodation for when you arrive in a country. You can work through your university if you are looking to secure accommodation on-campus or in university-owned facilities. Of course, there will be different options and the costs may vary. Try and stick to your budget.


If you have decided to organise accommodation independently, do your research into what is required in your chosen destination. This will involve understanding deposits, contracts, leases and additional costs.


You will also need to research areas and the public transport available in each.  Your university can help with advice on these matters. You can also have a look at our guide to the key questions to ask when looking to live off-campus for more information and explore our in-depth look at student accommodation options.


Get your banking & communication in order


When you’re away from home being able to have secure access to your money will be a weight off your mind. You may want to continue banking with accounts based in your home country. If this is the case, make sure that you have your online profile enabled, can receive notifications and that your bank cards are up to date. Your bank also needs to know that you will be away and in which country. This avoids them flagging activity on your account as suspicious or temporarily freezing the account.


Remember that banking with your local bank when abroad can attract additional costs, such as banking fees and fluctuating exchange rates.  One of the best ways of reducing the risk of escalating costs is to open a bank account in your study abroad destination.


Research what sort of accounts are available and what the application procedures are. Some banks will allow you to open online accounts, however, in a number of cases you will need to be physically present to open the account.  


Another top tip is to try and make use of a local mobile phone provider in your destination, rather than a provider from your home country. The main reason is that international call and data costs can be extremely high.


Therefore, conducting your activity with local services would be advisable. Luckily, many universities do offer Wi-Fi and so you can make use of instant messaging and video calling apps to stay in touch with family and friends.


While you are here, why not have a look at what attracts so many students to Australia and what you can do in Australia as a student?


Get your packing done


Now we know that packing is often left to the last minute, but planning ahead can make a huge difference in reducing your stress levels. It’s not possible to take everything with you so a few carefully selected items will serve you well. You certainly don’t want to be paying for extra luggage charges by taking more than you need.


Remember to research what the weather is like where you are heading and pack accordingly. It’s a better idea to try and take what you need rather than have to buy clothing when you arrive, which could be expensive.  Think about how long you will be there and what the seasonal weather is like.


For example, while the UK does have a reputation for rain and cold weather the summers can be mild and even warm. However, we would recommend a raincoat. Make sure you pack some comfortable shoes for walking and don’t overpack toiletries, you can buy what you need when you arrive at a reasonable cost.


Other items which should probably make your studying abroad packing checklist are power adapters for your devices. Not all countries use the same electrical plugs. You may also want to pack a portable device charger, just to make sure.  It won’t hurt to have a few items of stationery packed away, in case you need them. 


You can also take a look at our guide to some of the most common packing mistakes students make when moving abroad. Take some time exploring our must-pack items for:



By following these simple tips and guidelines hopefully, your preparations for moving abroad will be made a little easier. Don’t forget that you can read about student experiences abroad across our site, like Hashwina in Australia, and you can also double-check on your destination by reading our extensive range of guides.  Make sure that you keep up to date with the latest student news as this can affect and help with your planning.



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