Whether you aim to study abroad in France or anywhere else around the world, one thing is certain, studying abroad can be a life-changing experience. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, explore different cultures, and have the chance to learn about something you may never have had the chance to otherwise. But no matter how excited you are, don’t forget these six tips when planning to study abroad.
6 tips to improve your plan to study abroad
1) Save your money
Universities can get expensive, and if you’re planning on studying abroad, tuition and fees alone can reach $20,000 for an entire semester. Before you spend your life savings on a single study-abroad experience, make sure that you have all of your finances set up properly. Consider taking out student loans to help cover your expenses or even working part-time while abroad; both options could leave you with more cash in your pocket than had you simply paid for school outright.
2) Get your paperwork done early
Whichever country you are from, you need to check with your university and make sure it is working with reputable companies who can help you with your visa paperwork. Different countries have different requirements so be very thorough. If anything seems fishy, don’t go through with it – even if other people say they have no problem using that company. It takes extra work, but that piece of paper is worth its weight in gold when you leave on a study abroad program. The sooner you get your paperwork done, though, the better. The average time for processing paperwork for students going overseas is two months; however, many students run into problems trying to do everything at once too close to their departure date. Don’t wait until three weeks before classes start – be proactive.
3) Check if your country recognizes international credits
Depending on where you’re going, universities may or may not recognize international credits. If your university doesn’t have an office that specialises in international students, it’s probably worth checking with them before committing. This is especially important if you plan on doing a lot of travelling after graduating because most countries don’t accept every major credit transfer and some will require you to take additional exams for licensure (in fields like nursing and law). International student visas are also notoriously difficult to obtain—and if your program requires one, expect a lengthy process of paperwork, interviews and waiting that could easily extend from six months up to a year or more.
4) Manage your visa
Before your interview, let someone know you’re headed out (and ask them not to call or text you while there). After your interview, email everyone with any updates – even if it’s just that everything is still being processed. If there are any glitches in communication during your visa application process (which shouldn’t happen), be proactive in resolving them yourself or asking for help. You don’t want a simple error leading to a delay in processing because of negligence on your part. It sounds like a pain in the butt but it could save weeks or months of lost time.
5) Know your resources
Research your study abroad opportunities carefully. Make sure you’re aware of exactly what they entail. Go online and see if students in similar situations have had success or encountered any challenges while studying abroad; if they did, you might want to reconsider your decision. If an opportunity seems perfect on paper but you get a funny feeling about it, trust your instincts and don’t study abroad in that country or city at that time of year.
6) Follow up on everything
It’s easy for important details to fall through the cracks when you’re juggling multiple projects, so try not to assume that a verbal conversation has been memorised in writing. Most importantly, be sure to follow up on your own progress. Regularly check in with yourself and others involved in your study abroad program. Call them, email them – make a point of staying connected. It could save you a lot of headaches down the road.