Thinking about studying abroad, but not sure what it includes? We have to admit that the whole process can seem a bit complicated. But if you know every step to take and how to prepare everything you need, you will find yourself studying a bachelor’s or master’s degree abroad in no time.
This is our comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide to studying abroad. We’ll go through it step by step, and in the end, you will have most, if not all, of the information you need to prepare for an international study experience.
1. Decide how much you want to spend on your education in abroad.
Studying abroad is many things: exciting, challenging, empowering, life-changing, but it’s not exactly cheap. Of course, some study destinations are more affordable than others, but it’s good to know upfront how much you’re willing to spend.
Tuition fees for undergraduate and master’s programs vary widely, but there is always something to fit everyone’s budget.
Bachelor’s degrees tuition range
- Bachelors that cost between 0 and 5,000 EUR/year
- Bachelors that cost between 5,000 and 10,000 EUR/year
- Bachelors that cost between 10,000 and 20,000 EUR/year
- Bachelors that cost over 20,000 EUR/year
Master’s degrees tuition range
- Masters that cost between 0 and 5,000 EUR/year
- Masters that cost between 5,000 and 10,000 EUR/year
- Masters that cost between 10,000 and 20,000 EUR/year
- Masters that cost over 20,000 EUR/year
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of living as well. Depending on the city and country you live in, you can spend between 300 euros and more than 1,000 euros a month.
Tips and Tricks
Some of the countries with the highest tuition fees are the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Singapore.
Student loans are one way to cover the costs of your education but don’t be too eager to apply. Many students regret this decision and, in the United States, for example, you have to pay it back even if you drop out of school or don’t graduate.
You can work while you study, but only part-time, and this can increase your stress levels. If you decide to do this, be sure to follow the rules and regulations; In many countries, international students can only work a limited number of hours per week.
The public universities of Norway and Germany offer free degrees to all international students, regardless of their nationality.
Students from the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) can also study for free in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.
Most public universities in France and Austria offer study programs for less than 2,500 euros per year for all international students.
Discover some of the most affordable EU countries for international students.
2. Decide what you want to study
Some people have known what they want to be from a young age. The others find out later, during high school. But for some, the decision remains unclear even weeks before applying for undergraduate studies.
You can always choose one of the most popular specialties. This often ensures that you will be in demand in the job market and earn a very good salary. But choosing to study something you don’t like just for financial reasons isn’t always the smartest decision. With that in mind, here are some of the most popular races:
- Bussines and Administration
- Computing and Information Technology
- International Relations
Other ways to discover the discipline that suits your personality are:
- Take the Personality Test.
- Think about what you like to do and what you love to do, even without external rewards.
- Look at the people you like and ask yourself if you would like to do what they do or something similar.
- Read or view student reviews from multiple disciplines to gain a better understanding of the curriculum, required effort, and study results.
- get rid of the things you don’t want to study; Not knowing what you want often leaves room to know what you really want.
- Look at different job descriptions, career paths, and opportunities. Which one attracts you the most?
- Take a year off! Spend a year volunteering at home or abroad or land an entry-level job; This will help you learn more about yourself.
3. Decide where you want to study
Your budget and preferred regimen have a big impact on where you want to travel abroad for studies. But there are other factors that must be taken into account before choosing this or that country. Here are some questions and suggestions to help narrow your search:
- Are you willing to study in a country where English is not widely spoken?
- Do you want to work during your studies? If yes, check which countries have favorable policies for international students.
- What is the importance of social life and extracurricular activities to you?
- Do you want to live in a big city or in a quiet town?
- Are you ready to go to your university?
- Would you like to study in a country relatively close to your home country?
- Do you love to travel? If so, choose a country with many connections and opportunities in this direction.
- Try to choose two or three ideal destinations. Then start comparing the pros and cons of each.
If you are applying to universities in multiple countries, your final choice may not be entirely up to you. Let’s say you applied to universities in the UK, Finland, and Germany. But only those in the UK will accept it, even though Finland is their ideal destination. Keep this in mind and give it a try. Remember the saying: When one door closes, another opens.
4. Choose your favorite study programs and compare them
You have reached the point where you know the country and the system you want to study. Congratulations! But now, which study program should you choose? Each university offers one (or several) study programs in the same specialty.
Each program has a specific curriculum and different academic goals. You have to be very careful before choosing, you don’t want to end up realizing, midway through your first year of school, that you have enrolled in the wrong grade.
The easiest way to avoid this is to always consult the program overview or course list. Find out what you will study and how. Some degrees focus more on theory and others on practice. Do you have any questions? Do not hesitate to contact the university. The representative will be more than happy to assist you.
Other factors to highlight are:
- Duration of study: Most graduates take 3 or 4 years to complete, while master’s degrees take 1 or 2 years. But there are exceptions! Highly specialized careers can take 5 or even 6 years of study. This will also increase your expenses, so don’t overlook this factor.
- Full time or part-time: Each approach has its benefits; Part-time studies allow you to work together and take on other responsibilities. Studying full-time takes less time and will allow you to enjoy the full experience on campus.
5. Apply to various universities
Even if you have the highest grades and an impressive motivational letter or essay, you shouldn’t apply to just one college. That’s right, they may accept you, but what would you do if you weren’t? This is why you must apply to at least two or three universities.
You can apply for more than that, but keep in mind that in some countries, international students can apply to a limited number of universities.
The process is easier if you apply to higher education institutions located in the same country, but it is very common for students to choose universities from several countries. Just be sure to read the admission requirements carefully and follow the procedure:
- Some countries use a centralized system, through which you can apply to multiple universities.
- In other countries, you will need to submit an individual application for each university.
- Some universities only require digital copies of your documents
- Others require physical copies to be sent in addition to digital checks.
6. Pass your English test if you haven’t already done it
To study an English-taught program at a university abroad, you will first need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. Most universities accept one of the following English language certificates:
- Academic IELTS
- TOEFL iBT
- PTE Academy.
- C1 advanced
You will need to pass one of these exams before enrolling in college. Depending on your current level of English, you may be able to pass an exam within a few days or weeks of preparation. But if your English needs to improve, take at least a few months to prepare.
The IELTS assesses 4 main skills:
The format of each test is different but includes listening to speakers with different dialects, answering multiple-choice questions, writing letters and essays, answering questions based on different types of text, and many other types of tasks.
The best advice we can give you is not to approach these tests superficially. They will test grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, and many other skills. As long as you familiarize yourself with the exam format and practice it long enough, you will be able to pass any exam.
7. Apply for scholarships
This step is related to your budget and the application part of the university. Why? Because in some cases, you apply for a scholarship while applying to college. In other cases, apply for the scholarship later or after your spot has been confirmed.
What you need to know is that there are different types of financial aid programs:
- Student loans
- Military aid
Some of them require reimbursement, while others, such as scholarships or grants, do not. But grants and subsidies are awarded exactly that way. You must meet the requirements of the application. A wide range of requirements is available.
Some are awarded based on academic performance, others based on financial need, others for research purposes, etc. Don’t rush to apply if you don’t meet the criteria. Most likely, they don’t take you into account.
8. Confirm your place after receiving the letter from the university.
This is by far one of the most fun and rewarding steps. You found the perfect program, you passed your English test, you applied, and now the answer from the university has arrived: you have been accepted!
Congratulations! You are on your way to quickly become an international student! But what if they accept you at several universities?
Well, you will need to consider the options carefully and make a decision. If you already have a favorite, this is easy. If not, don’t rush to reply right away. Take at least two to three days to clear your mind and figure out which option is best for you.
Then send the confirmation to the university and make sure you receive it. During or after this process, you may be required to submit additional documents or official copies.
9. Apply for a student visa (If Required)
Not all students traveling abroad need to apply for a visa. But if you do, do your research. Many documents are required and issuing a visa can take from a few weeks to a few months. That is why you should apply early so as not to miss the start of your studies abroad.
If you are an EU / EEA student enrolled in an EU / EEA university, we have good news: you will not need a visa to study in an EU / EEA country if you are already coming.
In all other cases, with a few exceptions, you will need a visa. Here are some examples:
- You will need a visa to study in Canada
- You will need a visa to study in the United States.
- You will need a visa to study in China
- You will need a visa to study in Australia
- You will need a visa to study in the UK.
And the list goes on and on … The main advice here is: you need to check if you need a visa in advance and find out how long it takes until the visa is issued. Then, depending on when you are scheduled to start your studies, apply for a visa so that you receive it on time.
10. Choose the accommodation option and make the arrangements
It is important to decide where you will live abroad because it will have a great impact, both on your expenses and on your experience. Here are the most popular options, along with their advantages and disadvantages:
- They are also called “student residences” or “dormitories.”
- Student dorms are by far the least expensive option, but you will often have to share a room with one, two, or sometimes more students.
- The costs of utilities are generally included in the monthly fee.
- Private student housing (not owned by the university) is often more expensive than housing for university students.
- Many students live in the dorm for a year or two to enjoy a popular campus experience, then choose to rent a private space on their own or with friends.
- Not all universities offer student rooms and the number of places is often limited.
- The conditions and facilities of each home differ from one university or country to another.
Rent a Private Apartment
- This is the second most popular type of accommodation for international students.
- Rent is more expensive than housing on campus, but you can cut costs by sharing an apartment with other students.
- The closer to the city center, the higher the prices.
- Utilities are not always included in the monthly rate; This is something you should discuss with the owner.
- He will have to pay a deposit of two or three months’ rent. This is to cover possible damages or problems it may create. Depending on your contract, you must get the deposit (or part of it) back when you leave.
- Some colleges help students looking for private apartments and make sure they are not duped or tricked into overpaying.
- If your university does not offer this support, you will need to do your research beforehand to avoid scams or other problems.
Living with a Local Family
- This is not as popular as the other two options, but is chosen by students on a very low budget or by those who want a hands-on experience of the local culture and lifestyle.
- They are usually very cheap, sometimes even cheaper than student housing. But that often depends on how you negotiate and what is included in the total price. For example, some families offer one meal a day for a monthly fee.
- You need to speak the local language to live with a family, at least at the conversational level. Or they should speak English well. The point is: you can face language barriers.
- You will have to share the kitchen, possibly the bathroom, and other facilities. If you are not comfortable with this situation, then living with a local family is not for you.
- It can be a great opportunity to learn local recipes, discover traditions, understand life from the perspective of others, and make deep friends or connections.
Regardless of which option you choose, prices will vary wildly. You can spend between € 100-200 and more than € 700 a month, depending on where you want to live.
Always pay attention to the contracts you sign, don’t hesitate to discuss any confusing terms and don’t make the first decision you come across. Compare what is available in the market and then decide. Remember that an informed buyer is an authorized buyer.
11. Decide how you will travel abroad
You confirmed your place at the university, you found the perfect home … Now what?
It is finally time to plan your trip. How will you get to your study destination? Will you travel alone? Do you want to exchange transportation? These are all questions that you will need to consider.
If you are going to study on a different continent or in a distant country, an airplane trip is by far the best option. Sometimes it is cheaper, but this varies based on many other factors. You will need to check how much luggage you can take with you, as all major airlines have limits. You will have to pay an additional amount for additional bags or luggage.
Some students may choose to travel by train or bus. This can be somewhat comfortable depending on the distance itself and how long it will take you to reach your destination. The advantage is that it can be cheaper and there is no luggage limit; however, don’t think you can only take up half the storage space with your things. Surely other travelers will not appreciate it.
For Europeans moving to another European country, a trip by car, alone or as a family, is a valid option. You can travel with the people you love and they will help you set up the place and get used to your new surroundings.
Travel Tips and Tricks
- Depending on your study start date and when you can move to your new place, plan accordingly to arrive early; It is ideal to have a few days to adjust to your new environment.
- Check the cancellation or change policy of your ticket, especially if you are flying.
- If you need to change transportation, think about what you will do and where you will stay during the layover/waiting period.
12. Decide what to pack and the size of your luggage.
The amount of luggage you will carry depends mainly on your mode of transport. But no matter how you travel, here are some key elements:
- Laptops, Power Adapters, and Adapters
- ID, passport, birth certificate, and copies
- Prescription drugs or drugs, especially if you have allergies or other medical conditions.
- Regular backpack for daily use.
- A photo or something that reminds them of your home / loved ones
- Headphones, maybe a pair in case one of them stops working
You should also pack toiletries, clothing for different types of weather, towels, and any other items that you use regularly.
Depending on the weather, you may not need to wear winter clothing. But if you do, you can choose to send your parents by mail or a specialized courier company. You can also relax knowing that if you forget to drink, that option is there.
However, don’t bother taking all of your clothes outside. The truth is that you will find a large number of stores where you can buy new ones, especially if you are going to spend at least two or three years in your new home.
And that is! You are ready to go abroad! Enthusiastic? You must be. One of the most exciting, enjoyable, stimulating, and challenging chapters of your life is about to begin. And in the end, you will be a much better person. Go now and create great memories!