Here are my recommended 10 steps to prepare for #LearningAbroad!
10. Be informed and resourceful while studying abroad
One way to keep yourself informed and resourceful is to engage with the international office at your home institution. They will provide you with answers to the questions that you may come across while you are at your host country. You can also read the blog posts and search for scholarship opportunities here on the Student Centre. A lot of the information you will need while abroad is available right here!
9. Sign-up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad
This free service is offered by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Canada. Once you are registered, Foreign Affairs will be able to inform you if there is an emergency in your region and update your safety status to your family. Signing up for this service is easy and quick. Register here.
8. Always have a way to contact home
While you are having fun experiencing new things abroad, it is important to keep in touch with your family. Always have a way to contact home via email, Skype or phone. Applications for your cell phone like Whatsapp, BBM and Viber can be easy and low-cost ways to connect internationally. Put your parents’ minds at ease by communicating with them on a regular basis!
7. Keep a copy of important contact info in your email
Copy and save contact and travel documents by email or on a cloud such as Google Drive. Losing your passport or plane ticket information will be much easier to fix if you have a copy on hand.
6. Learn the monetary system before you board the plane!
In addition to understanding the currency and exchange rate in your destination, ensure beforehand whether your debit and credit cards will work, and whether additional fees will be applied. Check with your Canadian bank for more information.
5. Take advantage of student discount cards like ISIC
If you have not heard of an ISIC card, you should stop what you are doing now and apply for one. The ISIC card (short for International Student Identity Card) not only works as proof to your student status, but also gives you access to enjoy discounts on transportation, accommodations and entertainment around the world. It is a card that you should definitely have when you are abroad. You can learn more about ISIC cards here.
4. Try new and delicious food
Food is part of a country’s identity. You have not fully experienced a country until you have tried its local cuisine. One of your missions abroad should be to try as many local dishes as you can. Always be ready to eat something new even if it has a name you are not familiar with. Be daring and broad-minded!
3. Adapt to the local culture and mingle with local residents
One of the best ways to experience a country is to spend time with the local citizens. This involves understanding and respecting their customs and traditions, and experiencing local events and festivals. Don’t be shy to approach the locals. One great way to do this is to join a club of your interest – sports, games, social – that the town may have. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!
2. Spend your weekends and your study breaks travelling within or outside the city
Use days off to explore a new neighbourhood or part of town you haven’t visited yet. If you have a few extra days, consider extending your travels outside your host city to a neighbouring region or country.
1. Have an open mind
It is important for you to keep an open mind while you are in a foreign country because you are no longer in your comfort zone. The culture is different, family and friends are not around, and you are a long way from home. It is normal to feel a bit nervous, lonely, and even a bit scared when studying abroad, particularly during the first few weeks. The best way to combat these negative feelings is to remain optimistic and to keep an open mind as you experience unique cuisine and entertainment, embark on exciting adventures, and meet interesting new people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling with this – reach out to your home institution and family and friends for support, as well as fellow international students where you are.
Home isn’t going anywhere. Make the most of your study abroad experience – you’ll be glad you did!