New season, new shores: our top tips for students coming to study abroad
Leaving your home country to embark upon life as an international student can be a daunting prospect. You’re used to a different style of education, knowing your way around the local area, and having classmates who speak your language.
So how are you supposed to prepare for a new term in a new country? We’ve put together our top tips to help you get off to a great start when going to study abroad.
Join the social networks
One of the easiest ways to make some friends before you even arrive in your new country of study is to sign up the the institution’s social network. By introducing yourself on the Facebook page, or engaging via Twitter it’s surprising how many people are in your position and looking to make contact with other new students before they leave home. This is also a really great way of seeing what kinds of events and clubs you’ll be able to take part in once you arrive, and getting a feel for the vibe of the university or college in question.
Research the local area
Just like you would do if you were going on holiday to an unfamiliar place, researching your new local area before you arrive is essential. Most big cities have websites packed with information about local hotspots, places to eat and drink and general advice about the area. Having a bit of prior knowledge about a place makes the journey into the unknown just that little bit less scary. Try Lonely Planet for information about your chosen study destination.
Consider the climate
In many cases for international students, one of the biggest adjustments when studying abroad is the change of climate. Before you arrive, find out what kind of weather to expect by visiting the met office website, and speaking to staff and current students at the institution via the social networks. If you’re coming to study in the UK you’ll be needing a few clothing essentials such as a warm coat, shoes that don’t let the rain in, and some warm jumpers. The climate in the UK varies season to season, but having these few staple items means you’re covered in most eventualities.
Plan your arrival wisely
Find out which airport is nearest to where you’ll be living and plan to fly there. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fly in to London when their study destination is another flight distance away in Scotland! The other important thing when booking your flights is to ensure that you touch down in the airport at a reasonable time. Arriving at 3am will mean either a long wait to be picked up, or navigating your way around a strange city in the dark. INTO helps students to plan their arrival before studying, so if in doubt, contact your admissions advisor.
Join the club!
All universities have an activities programme to welcome new students, usually called ‘freshers’ week’. At INTO our study centres have a welcome week, which provides endless opportunities to meet your fellow students and make new friends. You will also be given information about the clubs and interest groups running in the Centres. For international students, joining clubs and societies not only allows you to meet like-minded people, it also gives you the chance to improve your English in an environment that interests you.
We have plenty more pre-departure advice and information at www.intostudy.com, where each of our Centres has a specifically tailored ‘Arriving’ section to help you plan. We look forward to meeting you!