Your decision to pursue your higher education in the US has been based on myriad factors such as US being the centre of academic excellence, state-of-an-art infrastructure, flexible curriculum and research based teaching methodology. Your overseas education experience will, however, not be restricted to four walls of your classroom; it is going to be much more enriching than you think. There is an old saying “travel broadens mind” and study abroad is an excellent opportunity to explore fresh avenues and develop a new perspective. Nevertheless traversing a new topography may leave you feeling outlandishly unsettled but the moment you decide to rise above your preconceived notions, judgement and prejudices, you will gradually start feeling more at home. Accepting a new culture nowhere means that you are rejecting yours, it simply means you have walked an extra mile to accommodate something new and exciting.
Equip yourself completely for a thrilling and motivating overseas experience with these ten effective tips and get going!
- Try to familiarize yourself with the host country: to be well versed with all aspects of your host country is the first thing you must set your hearts on. Pick up a guidebook like lonely planet or Forbes travel guide to get some insight into the US history, culture, weather and political set up. Talking to your seniors and relatives in US will also aid in your understanding. No matter how much homework you do, there will always be an element of surprise, therefore, keep an open mind and assimilate whatever comes your way.
- Equip yourself emotionally: A sudden feeling of being uprooted from the known will overwhelm you if you do not anticipate an unacquainted surrounding coming your way. If you are preparing yourself emotionally for new cultural adjustments, the transition will be smoother and swifter. If you remain single-mindedly focused on the real purpose of moving to a new setting, you will be able to surmount feelings of helplessness and frustration.
- Keep an open mind: While you may go through countless emotions ranging from enthusiasm to curiosity to frustration to denial once you land in the host country, always strive to keep an accommodating mind as you prepare yourself for an impending international experience. Make a sincere attempt to connect with your seniors. They can give first-hand information on the requirements for new cultural adjustments.
- Travel light: Packing light is not only a smart move for hassle free journey; it helps you in saving some money as well. Stick to bare essentials when it comes packing your suitcase for an overseas travel. It is advisable to check your airline luggage policies and retractions to cut down on unnecessary expenses on luggage. Making a checklist of must haves and packing in advance also will make your life much easier.
- Drugs and Prescriptions: Never forget to take your medicines which come as part of your prescription. There are medicines that may be banned in your host countries or not readily available over the counter so always declare your drug at the customs and port of entry. Also remember to carry your prescription and regular drugs like Dispirin and Crocin.
- Certificates of Immunizations and Vaccinations: The US universities expect their students to have immunization against communicable diseases and vaccine for preventable diseases. It is, therefore, advisable to take the vaccination shots for MMR and Hepatitis and the ones made mandatory by the university.
- Always remember to make photocopies of your important documents: At all times remember to secure photocopies of all your important documents ranging from your tickets to your passport to your credit cards and id proofs. It is a good idea to carry one set of photocopied documents with you in a separate a bag and leave another set back home in a safe location. You might also consider getting these documents scanned and sent to yourself as attachments.
- Health and travel insurance: You want your overseas stay to be stress free and, therefore, it is highly recommended that you take health insurance from a reliable insurance company after taking into consideration all aspects of insurance coverage and benefits including their network of hospitals, policy deductible, and coverage of pre-existing ailments, co-pay, customer services and flexibility of claim process.
- List of documents you must carry at the time of departure: Passport & Non-immigrant Visa, I-20 and I-94 form, Birth Certificate & marriage Certificate, Medical Documents, Academic Transcripts, College or University Acceptance Letter, and Emergency Contact Information of your home, university officials, and Indian embassy.
- Look for a companionable roommate: Staying with an incompatible roommate in an alien land is the last thing you would want to do. Let no stone unturned to finalize on your roommate before you depart for your study abroad. Touch base with students from your city headed for the same college, hunt for roommates on Craiglist.com or network with your seniors, spare no efforts in zeroing in on a likeminded roommate. Remember to take into account factors like monetary constrains, lifestyle and responsibility distribution before signing on the dotted lines.
Overseas education is a training ground for gaining awareness, developing expertise and acquiring skillsets towards becoming a dynamic and knowledgeable global citizen. This indeed is an investment for life and is sure to reap worthy rewards.