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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Study Abroad Checklist

So you too have made a plan to study abroad? Congratulations! However make sure you do proper planning and run a thorough checklist on all essential parameters.
Documentation: First and foremost, make sure that you carry all your essential documents such as ticket, visa and university papers. These are documents that are absolutely necessary to be on your person before you embark on your trip,
Money: Plan carefully in advance how much money you need to carry and in what form. Travelers’ cheques are a relatively safe way to carry money. Apart from that, you can also consider the option of international debit card. Some bare money however must be carried as real cash to meet the very immediate expenses.
Healthcare: It is always a good idea to consult your family doctor before you leave your country to study abroad. Get some basic medical tests done to ensure that you are fit to travel. In case you are into regular medication, ensure to carry with you the required stock. However please do consult the authorities on what you can carry along as certain substances are restricted from being carried on air. You may also need to carry your medical prescriptions to be able to purchase medicines in the new country.
Insurance: Although medical insurance is generally included in your university fees, it is always advisable to check. In case of a medical situation, you certainly do not want to get stuck up with expensive medical bills or lack of medical assistance. So make sure that you are adequately covered for your medical needs. You would also require travel insurance to safeguard against the risk of stolen or lost items.  
Legal: Since you are going to away for a long time, it is important to settle the legal matters. You may consider giving a Power of Attorney to your parents or guardian for financial and legal matters. This will enable them to sign on your behalf for regular official matters and avoid unnecessary tension and inconvenience. However do seek legal opinion before you do so, as there are various dynamics associates with PoA and you must draft the agreements with care.
Information and Communication: We take a lot of information for granted as we stay in our homes. However as we move abroad, we must compile the most important information that we may require. This may include contact information of your teachers, family, and friends. In case you have any acquaintances in the country of study, make sure that you carry their complete contact information.

The Temptation to Study Abroad

The concept of studying abroad is gaining massive popularity over the years. Families across the world today are far more willing to send their child for a study abroad program. In fact, in most cases, it is the student oneself that takes the initiative to spend a part of life abroad and make a positive difference to the career prospects. In this article, we discuss the common reasons that propel students to seek this option.
Career Advancement: Students today are far more career conscious than their previous counterparts and they are willing to take ambitious steps for the sake of their career. Moreover with the open culture and communication, the exposure has increased to a big degree. Students are bolder and willing to take the risk of adjusting to a new life.
New Culture: After having spent nearly two decades in their home country, students wish to explore a new country and a new culture to bring a global perspective in their lives. In a certain way, a study abroad plan does help to achieve this objective. A typical academic period is two years and during this period, a student gets enormous opportunities to explore about the country’s food, lifestyle and living habits. During vacation times, most good colleges and universities provide foreign students the option of guided holiday trips so that they can experience the best aspects of the new country,
Social Circle: Moving to a new country creates a platform to build a new social circle and create new friends. This can provide a boost to the happiness quotient of an individual besides forming of contacts that can prove useful for an entire lifestyle. This aspect is of key attraction to Gen-Y that accords deep importance to having a rich and wide social circle.
Independence: For students who have remained in their parents’ fold their entire life, a study abroad program can be an opportunity for them to spread out their wings and explore an independent life. They can live life on their own terms and to some extent make decisions on their own. However this is one benefit that the student must use with caution as independence also brings in additional responsibility to take the right decisions.
Financial Freedom: Most countries allow their foreign students to work for a few hours each week. This earning can help the student to meet regular expenses and also allow some amount of financial freedom.

The Decision to Study Abroad

Planning to study abroad is one of the most important decisions that a student can take in life for various reasons. It is not just about money, but also due to the various other aspects that this decision assumes so much importance in one’s life.
Family Bonding: Most students take the decision to study abroad in their late teens, and at that age they are not yet fully matured adults. For this reason, most parents find it a bit difficult to let their child embark upon a long journey and call an absolutely new place as their home. After close to twenty years of staying together, it is generally not easy for parents to let go of their children.  Similarly, it is a challenge for students to gather the confidence to create a niche in an alien land and spend an entire academic period there. Needless to say, the initial few weeks are indeed emotionally tough for most foreign students.
Change of Culture: It is easy to admire a foreign culture, however, it is a challenge to actually be a part of it. Lifestyle and habits change even from one city to another in the same country. However, when it comes to a different country altogether, the change in culture can be far too huge. It totally depends on the flexible personality of the student that how well he/she can adjust with the new culture and surroundings. The biggest adjustment in life is adjustment with people. There are instances when a student may be very gifted yet cannot adjust according to the new environment and new people. In that case, a study abroad program can end up being a big failure. In order to overcome this challenge, some universities do provide special programs to make students familiar with the culture they are about to experience.
Lifestyle and Habits: As long as the child stays along with parents, his/her lifestyle and habits are under supervision. However when the same child starts living independently for the first time in life as a foreign student, there is often a risk of the key focus getting lost. While many students are responsible and disciplined, there are some who end up making misuse of the newfound flexibility and freedom. Such students may indulge in the use of drugs, alcohol or unsafe sex. This can be very harmful to the life and career of the student.