With 7.8 percent of UK students currently travelling as part of their degree and more students interested in the benefits of international study, we’re likely to see more UK students heading abroad in the next few years.
Plus, the UK itself is currently home to over 458,000 international students from other countries. Studying abroad is becoming more popular, with students keen to experience different cultures and find the best educational experience for themselves.
If you’re considering higher education abroad, Mike Ryan, Chief Executive at PACK & SEND, has put together a handy guide for those taking their study around the world.
Handling your finances abroad
Before venturing off, make a plan for your money. With transport and living costs in a different culture among the key considerations, it pays to be smart with your cash.
As soon as you’ve chosen your new study home, start planning. Flights are best booked 5 months in advance, as this is when they’re cheapest.
Consider signing up for a credit card that doesn’t charge any transaction fees when used abroad, as these can soon add up over a year abroad.
It’s also recommended to set up online banking. This allows you to track your outgoings, helps with budgeting and can keep your account secure in the event of a lost or stolen card.
Keep a note of things like rent, bills and money for study materials and set a monthly budget that’s sustainable and allows a bit of cash left over for entertainment and unexpected costs.
If you need extra money, avoid wiring transfers as transaction taxes can quickly add up. Instead, have a trustee, like a family member, access your bank account to deposit money in an emergency.
Don’t forget documentation
Your financial plan should also include travel and health insurance, to protect yourself against extortionate costs if the worst happens. Shop around for a reasonable plan that covers you for the destination you’re studying in.
There are even specialist plans available for people studying abroad that cover you against medical expenses and tuition fees if you’re taken ill.
It’s also important to check which customs documents and visa requirements you’ll need for your trip. Student visas are needed to study in most countries outside the EU (and post-Brexit it’s likely you’ll need a visa to study in EU countries, too).
Pack the essentials
Costs quickly add up when you exceed luggage limits, so it’s important to weigh suitcases and carry-ons before setting off.
Remember to pack appropriately for your destination, as this will also help you keep luggage lighter. It’s important to not only pack clothes for the weather but culturally appropriate ones, as some countries have different dress codes.
Think about items you can pick up when you arrive. Products like toiletries can always be restocked when you land and will keep luggage costs and travel hassle to a minimum.
It’s also good practice to carry emergency cash. Bring around £100 – £200 in local currency in case of emergencies, like your card not being accepted. This is especially important for things like food and transport once you’re off the plane.
While abroad, you’ll want access to home comforts. In countries where internet connectivity is limited or calling is expensive, it can be difficult to contact friends and family.
There are plenty of calling and video apps you can download that run over the internet, so if you’re able to get reliable Wi-Fi, you can catch up with family and friends for free.
Consider sending items ahead of time
Travelling with a year’s luggage can be a pain and often means people end up leaving behind items they’d like to take. For larger, more awkward items, consider getting them shipped in advance.
Look for shipping times and deadlines and book the shipment according to your flights, so you can have the items waiting for you on arrival.
Awkward and fragile items may need special attention to ensure they get to their destination safely, so make sure to check the best ways to ship certain items.
If you’re unsure of the customs rules around certain products in your country of choice, a specialist shipper will help you work out what you can and can’t send.