First Steps when Preparing to Study Abroad

Know this before you pack your bags.

First Steps when Preparing to Study Abroad

When preparing to study abroad, it is essential to figure out your financial plan, housing situation, documents, and other tasks early enough. However, you will also need to accustom your mindset. Moving to a different country requires mental preparation and logistical planning in equal measure.

If you are not sure where to start, check these recommendations for a smooth start to your Masters studies abroad.

Invest in your ambitions

You are ambitious, a high achiever, and have long-term goals. Do you recognise yourself in this description?

If the answer is “yes”, you are almost certainly ready to enter the dynamic world of international education. Being driven is not a guarantee for success but it will make your study routine easier and your experience more enjoyable. Think of your biggest strengths as a student and try to tap into them for optimal results. For example, if you are highly organised, you can offer to keep track of the schedule and deadlines during group projects.

At the same time, be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone whenever you can. Make a list of possible new roles, activities, or projects that you have never worked on and find a way to explore them when you start your programme.

Read: 5 TED Talks about the Power of Learning

Embrace the challenges

Graduate studies are always challenging, but moving abroad can put additional pressure on some students to perform well and get high grades.

In an article for the New York Times, American pediatrician and writer Perri Klass said that many students who go abroad get too anxious if they don’t get the highest grade possible. According to her, some American students, in particular, seem to feel that they are either the best, or not good at all.

While striving for excellence is commendable, it is not always realistic. Try to remind yourself along the way that we are all human beings and we are not immune to failure and mistakes. Outperforming your best results on some graduate subjects may not even be necessary depending on your plans for the future and potential job focus. A stellar GPA will look great on your CV/resume but you will need to take care of your health and happiness too.

Ask for assistance

Studying abroad is not a straightforward process and it is completely normal to have questions about it. This is why every internationally recognised university is well equipped with experts who can provide support and advice to students with different needs. Some of these needs may be intangible – study performance, career planning, or emotional support. Research these well before your big move and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance once you get there.

Here is a snapshot of the career support provided by the University of Cambridge (UK): “It’s worth getting the Careers Service to check your plan, even if you think you’ve got things sorted. […] We can help you consider a plan B – things might not turn out the way you’ve planned.

Read: The Importance of Graduate Students’ Mental Health

You may also need support with more specific matters such as a visa and documentation or medical assistance. Students with disabilities who gain admission to a university abroad can find out about all the important campus arrangements on the school website and with the help of the official staff.

Be culturally aware

Have you already visited the country where you will be completing your Masters degree? How well do you know the local people and customs? When you move to a new country, it is important to stay open-minded and respect the culture you will be surrounded by every day.

Of course, your university will be bustling with people from diverse backgrounds so most of the time you will be immersed in a highly international environment. But even then, students need to be culturally aware of the attitudes and traditions typical for different parts of the world.

When getting used to a new place and trying to make a good impression on people, it helps to pick up some common phrases of the local language. Understanding the spoken word will not only help you feel more included but it can also be a positive icebreaker when meeting locals. 

Read: 4 Ways to Learn about Different Cultures in University

If you feel sufficiently prepared with all of these suggestions, you are ready to pack your suitcase and start your new university adventure. Make the most of it!

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