Studying Abroad This Summer?

As the semester’s end is quickly approaching and the fresh breath of spring is in the air, this last week’s warm weather has me thinking about summer.
A few months ago, I applied for the QES Scholarship which has placements in various Commonwealth countries. I applied specifically for a placement at Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga in Auckland, New Zealand, and while I’m still waiting on a final confirmation offer, I thought that since many students might be travelling abroad for international programs or internships this summer, I’d procure a study-abroad checklist as a handy reference.

Photo of milford sound volcanos and trees landscape

The first and probably most important document needed is a passport. If you already have one, double check the expiry date and ensure you allow yourself enough time to renew if necessary. Most Canadian passports can be renewed within four weeks by mail or within 10 days in person, but if you have a passport from another country, such as myself, processing times can be between four to six weeks.

You may also need a student visa, which is necessary if you plan to study for more than three months in most countries. Check the immigration website of the country you plan to study in and ensure you have the documents necessary in order to study abroad.

Finances are of obvious importance when travelling or studying abroad. By creating a budget and taking into account the currency of the country you are travelling to, you should do some research about the country. How much is rent and damage deposits, utilities, food costs, transportation and transit passes, clothing, plane tickets, baggage fees? Will you sublet your apartment here? Take into account extra expenditures such as travellers health insurance, which is usually required, as well as the cost of a new phone/phone plan if you are going somewhere where roaming fees will be astronomical. Setting up a bank account in the country you are visiting may help decrease international fees when withdrawing cash, paying bills, etc. Check with your college or student union to see if international grants are available for you to have extra funds in case anything comes up.

Photo of a piggybank

Get a medical checkup. Whether you’re covered under OHIP, UHIP or FNIH, it’s important that you are up to date with any vaccinations necessary as well as ensuring that any pre-existing conditions are stated when filling out travel insurance forms to prevent any claims being denied if you need to seek medical care in a foreign country.

Photo of doctor checking blood pressure

Finding a place to live can seem daunting. I’ve joined a Facebook group called Auckland Renters and I’ve posted well in advance of what I am looking for, my budget, neighbourhoods that I’d like/are close to the university, etc. Be wary of anything that seems fishy or would require you to send money before seeing the apartment. There are also options to stay at the university, sublets, roommates, and country or city-specific websites that can help you find temporary housing.

Nighttime photo of Auckland skyline
Language! If you’re travelling somewhere with a foreign language, brush up on some of it. Whenever I’ve travelled, having a bit of understanding of the locale speak has provided opportunities to see things off the beaten path, in addition to enhancing your experiences within that country. Take a free course online, such as Duolingo, and see where it takes you. It’ll also make it easier if you get lost and need to ask for directions.

Photo of foreign language dictionary

That being said, I am (hopefully) looking forward to a summer abroad. As someone who has never lived or even travelled outside North America, I am excited for the opportunity to live and work in a foreign country. If you aren’t travelling this summer, I hope you have a great one anyhow, and definitely look into the Centre for International Experience if this seems like something that interests you for next year!

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