Nowadays students can count on infinite options for their studies! Colleges and faculties from every corner of the world now work together, and this allows students to spend one or more semesters as exchange students. In this article, we’ve collected some essential tips to help you prepare for your semester or year before you move abroad. Read on and don’t forget to take notes!
When you’re choosing your destination for a semester abroad, start with a list of priorities: your final decision will depend on the quality of the study program, the home country of the university, and last but not least, your budget. Once you’ve chosen the university for your exchange program, you’ll have to begin to think about some potential language barriers.
In an ideal scenario, you would choose a university in a country where you already speak the main language. For instance, if you live in Germany, it would be convenient to spend a semester in Austria or a German-speaking part of Switzerland.
If you don’t speak the official language of the chosen country, you should start learning the basics of the language before you leave. Some of these language-learning apps might be helpful.
Even though most lectures in these programs are held in English, it’s useful to learn the basics of the official language there, just to make your life a little easier and to make friends with the locals in no time!
Before you move for your semester abroad, you should try to get familiar with the city where you’re going to stay. Today, there is a wide range of options that will help you learn more about that place. From Google Maps and walking tour apps to VR virtual guides, it’s possible to gather valuable information about the city of your choice before you even move there.
Likewise, don’t forget to read about the costs of living in the city of your choice. Even though most student exchange programs include some grants to cover students’ expenses, those sums might not be enough. In line with that, it would be smart to consider some options to make some money while you’re studying abroad. While this shouldn’t be a full-time job because you need to focus on your studies, doing a part-time job will make your stay there more comfortable and fun.
When you’re communicating with your hosts at your future university, you could ask them about your schedule and activities beforehand. For example, you could ask about the best time of the year for studies there.
Studying abroad doesn’t only include attending lectures and practice. This period is important for networking with other students and learning more about the country you’re staying in.”
That’s why the season you choose for your semester abroad can largely affect your studying experience. For instance, you might want to attend a winter or summer school during the break at your home university. This would give you a chance to use your free time to gain more knowledge and earn a valuable certificate.
Students who want to spend a semester abroad need to arrange different legal matters. So, if you’re planning to do the same, these are some of the things you should keep in mind:
Visa and/or stay permit. If you need a visa to enter the country of your choice, make sure to arrange it on time. In some embassies, it takes months to issue visas so ask about that in advance. And if you don’t need a visa, inquire about the stay permit, registrations or any other official document that you might need.
Health insurance. Most universities have their own hospitals or health centers where students can get medical help. In some countries, those services are free for domestic students and foreign students with proper local documents. Ask about these details in advance. If necessary, get an international health insurance policy before you leave.
Driving license. If you’re a driver, you might want to rent a car during your semester abroad for a day trip or two. Or maybe you might need your licence for your part-time job. In that case, you need to get an international driving license to be eligible to drive abroad. Also, students coming outside to the EU for their semester need to switch the foreign license for an EU one.
Students who are spending a semester or year abroad usually stay at university dorms. However, most universities don’t have enough capacities in dorms. In such cases, students need to book their accommodation as early as possible. There are many ways for a student to rent an apartment abroad. Sometimes, the chosen university helps to some extent in this quest.
However, in some cases, students need to rent a commercial apartment. That’s why you need to ask the university officers in charge of international collaboration what model their university offers. The best way to be certain that you’re not being scammed is to work with a trusted housing platform. Unlike with real estate agents, you won’t have to pay high, unexpected fees. So, start your house-hunt as soon as you can!
Going abroad for one semester or more is one of the greatest experiences of your life. You’ll meet new people, improve your networking, extend your professional knowledge, and learn more about other cultures. These are all crucial elements required for numerous jobs and academic positions. We hope our preparatory tips will help you cover all the bases to prepare for this exciting time of your life. Best of luck!