10 Important Things Indian Students Should Know When Planning to Study Abroad

by Dr. Kaustubh S. Thakare, University of Belgrade

If you are planning to study abroad, it is important to make sure that you are prepared, so that on your arrival you know what to expect and you can enjoy both studying and living in a foreign country.

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For most Indians coming to study in Australia, Europe or the U.S., this can be a little daunting. There are several basic things you are supposed to know that will transform your student journey into a great experience.

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1. You should be well informed (Research)

  • A basic step before moving to a different country is to surf the internet for information and resources.
  • If you know someone who has studied at the place where you are going that's the best way to extract a variety of information.
  • You can contact university personnel for the information regarding your stay and study pattern.
  • It is always better to be well informed about the weather of the country as it will help you in the bag packing. 
  • You should have information about the currency exchange rate and carry enough money with you until you find an ATM or open a bank account. You can carry international debit cards with you, which you can use anywhere in the world and these cards are easily available at any nationalised bank in India. 

2. Bag-packing

  • Ensure that you are carrying all the relevant documents and visas to allow you to study in the country you chose.
  • Enough prescription drugs for the length of your stay.
  • Electric adapters - because the shape of the electrical plug differs between continents, it is one of the essential things to be carried along with you.
  • Laptop and mobile chargers.
  • Winter in some countries is totally different from what we experience in India so pack lots of warm and waterproof outfits for the winter. Also, carry sweaters/hoodies, jeans, warm sleepers and shoes, coat/jacket, a special occasion outfit with you.
  • Travel book for the country you are visiting.

3. Prepare for living in a foreign country

  • From a cultural perspective, Australia, Europe or America are diverse and differ vastly from India. Although you may be worried about butchering the language and being criticised by the locals, the reality is that people appreciate your efforts in adopting their culture. Knowing the local language will benefit you a lot while shopping and travelling, as English is not necessarily spoken in every country.
  • Try to have some knowledge of the history and political background of the country you are visiting so that you can be more familiar with the people there.

4. Student accommodation

  • You can contact your university for the accommodation facilities and they will often help you out with this.
  • You can register yourself on www.hostelworld.com where you can get an idea about accommodation in many countries on a cheaper basis.
  • Also register yourself on www.isic.org to get an international student identity card. It will benefit you in getting discounts on accommodation charges at many places.

5. On arrival

  • The first thing you are supposed to do is register yourself with the internal affairs ministry within 24 to 48 hours. Registration will help you to legalise your stay in that country and later may help you in getting temporary residency. However, there are different rules for different countries which you will have to understand thoroughly.
  • The next important thing is to register at the local Indian embassy. It is of great value because there you will find people with whom you can talk in Indian language and that will somewhat reduce the feeling of homesickness. They might also help in solving any of the problems you are facing in the country of your stay. In addition, they organise a variety of programmes related to Indian culture which can be a source of entertainment for you.

6. Bank account

It is recommended to get a bank account in the country you are studying. This will allow you to pay the bills and keep your money safe. For this, you will require a passport, proof of residence and proof that you are a student.

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7. Earning while learning

There are some jobs called ‘blue collar jobs’ which can offer you an opportunity to work part-time so you can earn some extra pocket money for expenses or entertainment. For these jobs, as well as for the jobs you will take if you decide to stay in that country after graduation, you might need a work permit. It is very important to check these details so that you respect the local legislation and work legally.

8. Scholarships for international students

You can speak to your respective universities regarding finances which will be made available for your studies or else you can also find some external charities that can offer you financial aids in the form of a scholarship for studying abroad.

Additionally, you can access the Scholarshipportal website and see what are the scholarships available for you depending on the country where you want to study.

9. International calling

  • Living far away from your country and people will make you call frequently to India. In that case, you may ask whether my current phone will work in a foreign country and the most probable answer is yes. However, you will have to change your sim card and will have to buy a new one. After that, you can activate an international pack for calling to India and at very cheap rates.
  • Another way is to use Skype or Viber from your laptop or computer which will enable you to have a video chat free of cost with your closed ones. You can also use social networking site Facebook for video chat. I don’t think young Indian students will have any problem calling back home. What do you say, guys?

10. Travel

  • Here the international student identity card which I have suggested will be of value for cheap travelling charges. It will also enable you to shop across various shopping centres where you can get a nice discount with this card.
  • The best way to travel is using local transport like buses, trams, and trains. You get passes for buses and trains which will significantly reduce your expenses. You can also hire a taxi but it will be quite expensive comparatively.

So, guys, these are a few basic things you are supposed to know while studying abroad. I hope you will enjoy your stay and also will appreciate enormous natural and cultural beauty that awaits you.

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