10 Tips For Freshmen Students Abroad
Written exclusively for Expat Network by George Foster of Day Translations
In this post, we will help you settle seamlessly in your overseas university and succeed in your quest for greatness. Please check out our 10 tips for succeeding as a freshman student abroad.
1. Have Your Visa Ready Early Enough
Students from selected nationalities do not need a student visa to study at a US-based university. You need to know if your country of origin is among the selected countries. If it isn’t, be sure to apply for a visa before booking your plane tickets.
The same case applies to European colleges; students from EU-member countries can study anywhere on the continent without a visa, but students from other continents must have valid visas to join. Don’t wait until the last minute to determine your eligibility to study at your dream college.
2. Research about Your Destination
How well do you understand your host nation’s laws, culture, religion, political stand, and education curriculum? In the same vein, do you understand the local dialects? What does the university administrators expect from you? What are the dos and don’ts for a foreign student?
Seek answers to these questions, among others, before boarding the plane. The answers are readily available on the university website, international media sites, and social media.
3. Prepare For a Smooth Arrival
A smooth arrival translates to a smooth transition from the culture you are used to, to the new overseas culture. You will have a smooth landing if you have all the necessary travel documents with you, health insurance, proper airport pick-up payment arrangements, ready accommodation, and, of course, enough money to sustain you for an extended period. It will also be great if you can find reliable local contact to help you absorb the culture shock that comes with moving abroad.
4. Take Care of Your Important Documents
To avoid losing your important documents, make a point of photocopying them all. You can leave some copies at home and then carry the rest with you. For safety reasons, it is wise to carry the original documents when and only when necessary. Duplicates will be fine on all other occasions.
5. Have a clear-cut plan
Your success or failure is dependent on how clear your academic goals are. Although you might need to revise and update your plan along the way, it is important to have a long-term career and life goal from the very first day in a foreign college. Know what you want to study and the career you intend to pursue after graduation.
6. Find a Workable School-Life Balance
Studying at a local university, within your comfort zone, gives you a degree at the end. Studying abroad gives you more than a degree. It teaches you many life skills e.g. how to live amongst people with varied religious and political opinions, for example. It also opens up your mind to new ideas, new food recipes, and new career aspirations. You get to see the world from an advanced perspective.
However, you will only achieve any that if you dedicate a significant amount of your time to exploration. Study hard for your exams but spare at least an hour per day or one day every week to interact with the locals as well as with your fellow foreign students.
7. Adopt the Local Culture
Even before boarding the plane, make a point of watching movies/documentaries, reading books, and listening to music about and from your soon-to-be home. If possible, start learning the country’s prominent language(s) while still at home. That will help you settle in faster.
8. Join a Club
Being in a club is a good strategy of getting your mind off books for a while. Clubs also help you get friends, learn things that aren’t taught in class, and develop as a person.
9. Spend Money But Not Extravagantly
Have a budget for all possible expenditures to curb extravagant and impulse buying. You are a student, after all: You don’t need to dine at 5-star hotels or party all night. Be sure to spend your money only on important stuff such as groceries.
You can always make extra money by finding online jobs. Some interesting online jobs are: translating, online tutor, resume writer, designer and many more. This would even make a great addition to the CV.
10. Keep Your Professors Close
If you didn’t grasp a concept in class, the onus is on you to ask for clarifications from your professors. Make good use of office hours by showing a strong, genuine desire to study and learn. Your professor can even guide you into making the right career choices later in life.