Departure Checklist: What To Do Three Months Before Studying Abroad
Starting university in September? Check out this handy checklist for what you should be doing for the next three months.
Are you starting your studies abroad this fall? Congratulations! And also good luck –getting everything sorted before your departure can be a daunting process indeed. But SchoolApply is here to break down the timeline.
First things first, here are the major things you should be thinking about now that you have your acceptance:
- Passport: Check that your passport is valid and that it will not expire in the next year. This is your last chance to apply for a new one without paying for expedited service.
- Student visa: By now you should have received your acceptance letter and all the necessary paperwork from your future university. Make sure to keep these together in a neat pile or binder. These papers will be needed to obtain a student visa - and now is a great time to start your visa application! This way you will have this formality taken care of nice and early. Those heading to the USA can get their F-1 visas issued up to four months before the starting date of their studies. If you are moving to the UK, you can apply for the Tier 4 student visa three months beforehand. Australia lets you apply for the Student Subclass 500 visa as soon as you have paid your university deposit. The Land Down Under also generously allows students to arrive on its soil up to 90 days before the start date of their studies. Most other countries allow you to enter only 30 days before.
- Flights: Have you started checking out flights yet? The best prices for international travel are often found around the three-month mark. Check the prices on Google Flights, Kiwi.com and Momondo.com. Keep an eye out for airline promotions that are posted on sites like the Flight Deal, Secret Flying and Airfarewatchdog. If you are not sure when exactly you can take off, it’s a good idea to book a flight with cancellation insurance.
This month is the latest you will want to lodge your student visa application, as the visa processing can easily take a month. If you are applying for an American visa, this is most likely the month you will have your interview at the US consulate. Prepare yourself – while the interview itself is short, there are many rules regarding what you can bring with you to the consulate, how you must behave and how early you can arrive for your appointment.
The consulate may also be far away from where you live, so make arrangements to travel there. Why not invite a friend to join you on the trip? He or she can’t come into the consulate building but you can do some sightseeing together before and after your interview. This will help make the experience more relaxed, and will enable you to spend some pre-departure quality time together.
In any case July is ideal for seeing friends and family members a lot and enjoying your summer before you move miles away. When you are physically worlds apart, sustaining your relationship with WhatsApp will be easier when you have fresh memories to build upon. So load up on that quality time now!
One way to do so is that you could ask your friends to play tourist with you in your hometown – you can check out new cafes and restaurants together, go to museums you have never been to, take scenic hikes and climb up to viewpoints. Take lots of photos together so that you will remember all the fun times you had this summer. Take many pics of your hometown, too, so that you will have something to show to your new friends in your study abroad location.
Check to see if your school has posted its course schedule online. Sometimes professors designate voluntary reading assignments before the term starts, so make sure to stay on top of all of this. Doing some schoolwork pre-departure will not only help you get ahead start but will mentally get you into study mode.
Are you thinking of starting a blog to document your adventures abroad? Now is the time to set up your site. You should also start writing already – blogging from abroad will be much easier if you’ve already gotten into a regular writing routine while back home.
Take care of all the final financial logistics, especially your packing. Arrange travel insurance either with a company from your home country, or via Visitorscoverage.com or Worldnomads.com. Alert your bank or credit card issuer that you’ll be using your card in another country to prevent them from suspecting fraud. Buy an international adapter so that you can easily use your electronic devices abroad.
When you are a week away from leaving, you should organise a goodbye party so that you can see all of your friends once more. Make it a fun one: serve your favourite food and drinks, and dance to songs that are in your native language. Ask your well-travelled friends to give you tips on how to deal with culture shock and other challenges you will encounter abroad. Write down everyone’s snail mail addresses so that you can send them postcards later. Laugh and smile a lot, but stock up on tissues too - things are bound to get emotional at some point of the night.
During the last few days before your departure you should try to take it easy. Rest a lot, stuff your face with all of your favourite foods and buy some treats to bring with you on your adventure. It’s starting soon!
Catch your flight and arrive at your new home! Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life. Take a deep breath and appreciate all that you have already accomplished.
Are you just in the starting process of studying abroad? Check out our application timeline blog for the January intake to make sure you prepare everything on time.
About the Writer: Mirva Lempiäinen is a US-educated freelance journalist from Finland. After calling New York City home for about a decade, she now resides on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.