Heading overseas to study? Congratulations on being one out of more than 10 million others like you who are travelling abroad to study! Chances are that you’re super hyped up for all the adventure and fun travels you’ll have. But before you get on that airplane for your overseas study program, here are 9 travel tips that will definitely help make life easier for you!
Always PLAN before you land
As the age-old saying goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Before you start packing for your semester-long studies abroad, read up on the country and city that you’re heading to. Tons of information can be found both online and off, ranging from travel guides, forums, blogs or even films. A good starting point to find carefully curated information for your exchange university would be the Flying Chalks University Guides, which covers essential information from the student life you can expect to even good food on and around campus! They have guides for universities in Korea, USA, Europe and more!
Learn more about the culture and social norms so that you wouldn’t stick out like an alien with your new foreign friends. Now, some may think that planning in detail can kill the spontaneity and adventurous nature of studying abroad. However, the truth is that planning can help keep you safe by knowing when and where you need to be, while also helping you to save time and money so that you can explore more places and experience the escapade of your life!
Discover a whole new COMMUNITY at home and abroad
Going abroad to study is probably the first time that you’ve lived independently away from home for such a long time. While travelling alone offers you flexibility and independence, there are benefits of travelling in a group.
Firstly, it’s safer to travel in a group where everyone can help look out for one another. It is also cheaper when it comes to accommodations, or taking a taxi. If your school does not offer opportunities to meet others heading to the same university, check out the Flying Chalks Community! You’ll be able to connect with like-minded peers travelling to the same university or region, potentially finding yourself a travel buddy. Furthermore, you’ll be able to find seniors who have been to the same university and seek advice from them!
STRETCH every dollar and make your wallet flexible
It is paramount that you keep track of your spending so that you won’t have to break the piggy bank when you’re going to be alone for the next 6 months! Before you embark on your journey abroad to study, check the exchange rates! Especially with the current economic climate, foreign currencies are particularly volatile, which can help you save or spend more for each dollar you have.
While travelling, look out for bargains, student benefits, and promotions to help you save that extra bit of cash. Promotions like the ISIC card or railway passes help students studying abroad by offering discounts off daily expenses such as transport and entertainment.
Now, what’s even better than promotions? Free stuff! With a bit of digging online, you’ll be able to find some free walking tours of some of Seoul’s best tourist attractions. Many European cities such as London, Berlin, and Paris also have their fair share of free walking and museum tours! Most of these tours have tours held in various languages so you do remember to find out about the tours beforehand! Studying abroad can be expensive, but with these tips, you’ll be able to do it on a budget.
Book your FLIGHT without a fright
The cost of flying abroad is one of the highest (if not the most expensive) when embarking on your study exchange. Check for price fluctuations often (or use a price alert feature), and a significant drop could signal the best time to book.
An important thing to note is the various additional baggage fees that apply. Travelling abroad for studies will require large luggage, thus it is important to check the existing limits and additional surcharges that each airline charges when choosing an airline. Look out for certain airlines which offer student or youth promotions which will help you save a fair bit.
Lastly, you should also consider other factors such as the accessibility of the airport which you’ll be landing at, or the number of transfers you’ll take before you reach your destination.
Where you STAY will change your day
When choosing your accommodation, think about the kind of experience that you’ll want to have for the next 6 months. Would you want to live with other students in a residential hall or campus dormitory, join a fraternity and do crazy wild stuff? Or are you interested in living like a local, finding a host family via your local university and living with them, immersing yourself in the culture and language.
Perhaps you are travelling with a group of friends, renting out an apartment on AirBnB. Consider also the costs of travelling to school from your/your host family’s apartment, the distance to the city center and major attractions that you’ll want to visit, and the general safety of the area which you want to live in. One thing that could be helpful would be finding out more about the norms of the country. In cities such as Warsaw, AirBnBs are a good option, but in other cities, short term renting of apartments could be more cost efficient and reliable. One pro-tip would be to get a bicycle, such that if public transport fails, you’ll always have your two wheels to rely on in any situation
Get INSURED today and be assured tomorrow
When you’re studying abroad, you may encounter several mishaps such as losing your phone, wallet or even your luggage. Having insurance coverage provides you with medical, logistical and financial support when you need it most! Often, schools will have group/student policies for students studying abroad.
These policies are often subsidized and are targeted specifically to the needs of exchange students. If your school does not provide such services, fret not because Flying Chalks has partnered with companies to offer you exclusive travel gifts and discounts!
When looking for travel insurance, the two main categories to consider are: Medical Coverage, which covers you for any medical expenses or hospitalization charges incurred both during and after your trip; and Travel Inconvenience, which covers trip delays or cancellations, loss or damage of personal baggage and replacement of travel documents.
Besides insurance, you should also check if the country you’ll be studying in requires an international visa to enter, as well as the time limit that your student visa will allow you to stay for. Check out this website to see if you’ll be affected!
PACK like a pro
What do you pack into your luggage? The task of squeezing 6 months worth of living essentials into 1 (or 2 if you’re lucky) luggage and a carry-on bag seems impossible, but it can be done. As a rule of thumb, the first question you should ask yourself is if the item is useful. For example, would you really need that thick and bulky woolly jacket if you’ll be heading to Australia for the summer? Ensure that you have your bare necessities covered. Thermal clothing is a must if you’re heading to a winter country, while swimwear will be essential when heading to the coast!
Comfortable, not branded clothing should be favoured. Think twice about that pair of 7-inch heels and go for a comfortable pair of walking shoes that will help you go the distance on your travel adventures. YouTube offers plenty of tutorials on how to maximize your luggage space so that you’ll leave enough room for all the shopping and souvenirs that you’ll be bringing home in a semester later. Always remember, you’ll most likely be able to find and buy anything that you’ve forgotten to pack in the city that you’ll be going to!
Take nothing away but MEMORIES
While some of us may be able to memorize and recite 67,280 digits of Pi, most are not gifted with such powerful memories. The simplest way to keep the memories of your “YOLO” adventures intact would be to keep a blog. An online record of your adventures that is weather-proof can neither be stolen nor lost on a train ride is a great way to relive your memories when you grow old.
While you’re at it, you may also wish to do something special, like having a signature pose for each photo you take at the many different places you explore. Upload them to your blog, and over time it’ll become memorable to both you and your friends as that unique thing you did on your overseas exchange.
Need some inspiration? Or simply want to know more about life studying overseas? Find out about the experiences of other students on Flying Chalks’ Travelogue!
Be OPEN to the adventure of your lifetime
We’re often caught up in the rush of time, especially with the time limit hanging over our heads during the study abroad semester. With just 6 months to eat, see, play and enjoy all the various wonderful things planned out, we forget to stop and experience the moment.
After taking the photograph of your signature pose, put the camera down, take in the scenery and bask in the atmosphere. Whether it’s standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, diving down to the Great Barrier Reef, or walking along the Christmas Market in Zagreb, or climbing a volcano in Seoul, detach yourself from technology and make memories that will last you forever.
Be open to new experiences, even if you’ve never tasted Colcannon in Ireland, Bresaola in Italy or Durians in Singapore, try it! The unforgettable experiences you embark during your semester-long exchange will stay with you forever.
Although these 9 student travel tips may apply in general to most students studying abroad, ultimately, it is you who will determine how your journey will turn out! By planning ahead, you’ll be able to stretch every dollar of your budget by finding the right flight and accommodation, while also ensuring that you stay covered from any problems that may arise. Once you’ve done all the necessary preparations, open up your heart and let the World lead you on!
By Joe Lodge 33/365 Atlas