The Ultimate Study Abroad Checklist


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Jun 09, 2022 07:52 PM IST

Need a one-stop study abroad checklist? Our pre-departure travel checklist will walk you through advanced one-year planning to last-minute preparations for your solo journey to study abroad.

Study Abroad Checklist

Planning is the best way to make your study abroad journey a success. There are many things to consider when you are travelling abroad for the first time. It is a tedious job and you need a clear plan to ensure everything goes smoothly. After all, packing a suitcase and reserving a flight are not the only things to do before the trip.

The moment you leave your home, you start thinking, did I forget something? Am I missing my wallet or phone? Have I prepared all the documents I need? And then there are the travel jitters, the long haul flights, and the inevitable feelings of tearfulness that come with leaving home and moving to a new country. The entire trip can be full of surprises, but arriving at your boarding gate without a visa or forgetting your medicines and other necessities for your lengthy flight might put a damper on your much-awaited trip.

To avoid such situations and unnecessary stress, it is better to get started on your to-do list as soon as possible. It is never too early to start; the sooner you start pacing yourself and checking off tasks on your pre-departure and travel checklist, the sooner you will be able to relax and enjoy your trip abroad to the fullest when the time comes!

It takes more than just common sense to figure out everything you will need to carry while going abroad. So, rather than boring you with a list of everyday necessities such as a comb, shampoo, goggles, clothing, shoes, and so on, we will focus on how to pack your bags like a pro. To make things easier in the near future, use this study abroad checklist guide to prepare for your departure.

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How to Prepare to Study Abroad?

Like people, no two countries are alike therefore some might have an easy visa process and others might take a quarter of the year. Start your study abroad preparations ahead of time, so you will have a list of well-researched universities at your fingers when the time comes, and you will be able to apply before the deadline.

Get Your Passport One Year in Advance

It may seem a dubious task to apply for a passport one year in advance. However, even before you begin researching your desired destination, this should be the first item on your study abroad checklist. This is because the processing period for obtaining a new passport or renewing an existing one varies by country and urgency.

Keep in mind that in some countries, a passport must be valid for more than six months at the time of issue of a visa. So check with the embassy or consulate of the destination or country you plan to visit ahead of time.

Research About Your Programme

It is recommended that you begin shortlisting programmes and universities you want to apply to at least a year in advance. This way, you will have enough time to make an informed decision as well as organise everything carefully.

Research the university's official website, and conduct an online or social media analysis (Facebook groups or LinkedIn connections can be helpful). You may also contact the alumni to learn more about their experiences and seek guidance. It is also a good practice to get in touch with your peers, friends, or family members who have recently travelled abroad for studies. They can offer you valuable tips and give proper guidance on how to prepare for living in a foreign country. 

Prepare Your Application in Advance

After you have decided on a study abroad programme, you should start preparing for the application process. Keep in mind the submission deadlines for your preferred universities. Always keep an eye on the application deadlines of the universities as they may change or close sooner than the given deadlines if the applications are high. A special check should be made for universities that have limited seats or those that offer admissions on a first-come-first-served basis. The application process is lengthy and even after that, you will need ample time to apply for a visa, make reservations, and enrol in classes before the programme begins.

International applicants are advised to apply at least six months in advance to avoid last-minute problems that are more likely to occur when you are in a hurry (such as technical or network issues, etc.).

Take Standardised Tests (if required)

All international non-native English speakers need to demonstrate their English proficiency. The most common type of proof of English proficiency is taking a language test, be it the IELTS exam, TOEFL exam, or PTE exam. Duolingo and Cambridge English Tests are some other of the most widely accepted English exam tests. You should register for a test as soon as possible because you will need to provide a test score report with your application.

Apart from this, students may be required to submit standardised test scores such as SAT or ACT for undergraduate programmes and GRE or GMAT for graduate programmes. However, these are not mandatory requirements for all university applications.

Apply For Student Visa in Advance

This is the most important step in your journey of studying abroad. Almost every country requires a student visa or study permit depending on the course duration. Each country’s visa process and application processing time are different. Thus, international students are advised to get all their documents in order so that they can apply for a visa as soon as they receive an admission confirmation letter from the university. Always visit the official website of the embassy or consulate of the country in question and then apply for a visa within the deadline provided. If there is an option for an expedited visa process, then students can choose that option.

Apply for a Financial Aid or Scholarship for International Students

It is widely known that studying abroad is expensive. If you need any financial aid or are planning to apply for a scholarship, then make sure to review all options, application requirements, and deadlines. A scholarship or financial aid can be a significant help in covering your expenses, such as tuition, accommodation, travel, or study-related expenses. 

It is important to note that the deadlines for scholarships and funding may change. While some scholarships do not require a separate application process, on the other hand, some specific scholarships have designated deadlines. Thus, students should keep a close check on the dates and apply well before the final deadlines.

Pre-Departure Checklist for International Students

Now, because you are going to study in a foreign nation rather than on a vacation, there are a lot of things to consider before you depart. Furthermore, you will be staying alone and away from your house. So, you need to pack all the essentials to set up a new home abroad from scratch.

Get a Student Health Insurance

You might think that getting health insurance is not a big deal, but it can become one if you are going to study abroad. Nobody knows what may happen during your stay and unexpected medical expenses can be expensive. When creating a study abroad checklist, do your research and make sure you do not forget to consider student health insurance. Most universities offer health insurance as part of the cost of attendance or accommodation. It is best to enrol in such university health programmes. If not, then students can check other health insurance providers that provide a good offer on medical coverage for international students.

Book Your Accommodation

The hunt for housing can be a long and difficult process that can take months. It is best to book a room in university housing or contact the university for help with private accommodation services. On-campus accommodation is best for new students or freshmen who are just entering academia. For seasoned students or students who like independence, they can look for a university-managed rental apartment or live off-campus with a host family. Homestays are also a good option for students looking for homely stays and connecting with the locals and enjoying the culture and community. If you opt to rent an apartment, take normal safety procedures to avoid rental scams. The best way to avoid any scams is to book a room via the housing providers suggested by the university as they are verified and legal.

Book Your Flight in Advance

Booking international tickets three to four months in advance is the safest bet. Get an estimate of the typical price of flights to your new country at that time of year. This way you would know what to expect and when you can make the best rate decision.

Consult Your Country's Consulate or Local Embassy to Register for Your Trip

For safety and security reasons, it is also a good idea to register your travel with a consulate or embassy in your country of origin and your new country. You will receive information, notifications, and help in the case of an emergency there (for example, weather issues or natural disasters).

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Inventory Your Belongings

Take advantage of this opportunity to start a new life in a new destination, look for your belongings and tidy your closets. It is a good time to recycle, sell, or get rid of anything you do not need or use. Make a list of the items you will need to take with you when you go to study abroad. Pack only the essential items which cannot be purchased in other countries or might be very expensive to purchase outside of your home country.

Based on the list of belongings, you will know if you require an additional suitcase or backpack. Check the airline's luggage policy for the flight you are taking. Find out if you will have to pay more for an additional suitcase. If your luggage is overweight, you may save money at the airport by eliminating unnecessary things earlier.

Keep Up With Regular Health Checkups

It is better to be healthy than to feel guilty! Visiting a doctor for a routine checkup should be on your to-do study abroad checklist. You should also inform your doctor if you are taking prescription medications or are under medical supervision so that you can replenish your supply for the duration of your stay, as it may be difficult to find specific medicines abroad in some circumstances.

Check to see if your prescription medications are allowed in your destination country before carrying them. If this is the case, bring enough medication to last for at least two to three months. After that, you can visit a local doctor and have your medications re-prescribed.

Getting Started With the Packing Process

As you will be studying abroad for a year or longer, it is better to start packing early rather than wait until the last minute. A good pair of sneakers and a winter jacket should also be on your checklist. Make a packing list for your study abroad trip to help you arrange your belongings, and make sure you have the right power adapters and converters. Above all, bring all of your travel documentation with you, including academic transcripts, letters of acceptance, photocopies of fee receipts, rental agreements, original mark sheets, travel insurance, etc.

Finalise Packing One Week Before Departure

One week before your departure, set aside the clothes and belongings you will need for your final days at your present home, and pack as much as possible. Also, keep a handy bag for the daily essentials you need along with the set aside of unpacked things. If you are planning to stay with a host family, you should also consider bringing a gift for them. They will appreciate the generous gesture, and giving them a present is a wonderful way to exchange a bit of your culture with them.

Visit Your Local Bank for Currency

To ensure you do not run into any money problems once you arrive at your location, order roughly USD 100 worth of your destination's currency. Most banks can help you with this, and it should not take more than seven days.

For example, if you need to pay for a cab or public transportation, or for any other reason, exchange enough money to arrive with cash. Keep in mind that money and currency are important aspects of any study abroad checklist.

Make Copies and Scan Your Documents

Make copies of your documents, take some of the required ones with you, and leave the unnecessary with your family. Also, save them on Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, etc. Add them to your parents' or relatives' shared online folders so that they can access them in the event of an emergency.

Post-Arrival Checklist for International Students

After you arrive at your destination, the first thing you should do is to contact and notify your family, friends, and relatives as soon as possible to let them know everything is fine. You also need to notify your university/college of your arrival and that you will attend the orientation programme. Additionally, if you are staying in private accommodation, then you should also inform your university/colleges about your stay.

Get to Know Other Students

Immerse yourself in your university's community and culture. Make an effort to connect with other international or local students and enjoy your new student life right off the bat.

Meet Your New Neighbours

Getting to know your new neighbourhood will also leave you with a homely feeling, regardless of the type of housing you choose. You will feel more at ease and comfortable in your new surroundings. You will undoubtedly come across interesting locations to visit, exercise, shop, and so much more.

Getting to Know Public Transportation

Taking public transportation to explore the surrounding neighbourhoods of your new home is a wise decision. In your study abroad checklist, including routes, maps, modes of transportation, and essential landmarks. You will get a better sense of the city quickly, and you will have more options if you wish to travel.

You should also apply for a student travel pass, which allows you to enjoy free transportation or a discount if you present your student ID card.

How to Resist Overpacking?

When packing for a voyage to another country, we tend to overpack and overload our suitcases with items we may never use. To solve this dilemma and figure out what to bring when travelling abroad from India, use the following tips:

  • Remove irrelevant things: Make a to-do list and strictly follow it. Avoid carrying big and heavy items that may or may not be needed during your trip. 

  • Early packing is a must: It is much easier to figure out what you do not need if you start planning early and segregating away all the unnecessary things.

  • Do your research: Connect with other Indian students who have already studied abroad to get some helpful advice on what you can buy in the host nation and what you should bring with you.

Bon Voyage!

Remember to pack light because it is simple to overpack, especially when planning an extended trip abroad. When preparing for your trip overseas, keep in mind that less is more. Leave heavy books, high heels, hairdryers, and miscellaneous accessories at home, and go for clothing that can be layered or hand washed. You will be able to buy all of your clothes and most toiletries when you arrive in the country.

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Which items should I bring to Canada as an international student?

As an international student, your Canada pre-departure and pre-arrival checklist should include your passport, prescription medicines (if any), personal documents, some local currency, a charger, toiletries, adapter, university checklist items and hand sanitiser. However, you should also keep in mind Canada's climatic conditions and do not forget to pack your warm clothing essentials like Winter jackets, snow boots, mittens, etc.

How much luggage is allowed on international flights for students?

International students are allowed to carry two to three pieces of luggage on international flights, each weighing 23 kilograms. This allowance may vary depending on the airline. The international baggage allowance for flights is one checked bag and one carry-on item. Major airlines like American and Delta allow international students to bring more than one bag, but all bags after the first free one come may be charged more than USD 100.

Which travel documents should an international student carry while travelling abroad?

An international student should carry the following documents while travelling abroad:

  • Student Visa

  • Passport

  • Aeroplane ticket

  • Credit Card

  • Student ID Card

  • Travel Itinerary

  • Boarding Pass

  • Letter of Enrollment confirmation from the university

  • Travel health insurance

  • Allocated accommodation fee receipt 

Which things should I not pack while travelling abroad?

While travelling abroad, you should not pack things like a hairdryer, hair straightener, unnecessary shampoo bottles, toothpaste, too many snacks, shower gel, heavy books, culturally inappropriate clothing, bedding (pillows and duvet cover), lots of food or snacks, giant suitcase, precious or expensive things, and too much cash.

What are the essential things to consider before I start packing to travel abroad?

Before you start packing to travel abroad, there are some essential things to consider like the duration of your stay, the societal environment of the country you are going to travel as well as the climatic conditions of that country. For example, if you are travelling to Canada, there will be cold all around the year. As a result, you should pack clothing which will keep you warmer. 

Is there a limit to how much money international students can bring to Australia?

No, there is no limit to how much money an international student can bring to Australia. Students can bring as much money as they like into and out of Australia. When requested by an Australian Border Force or police officer, you must declare cash in Australian and international currency if the total amount exceeds AUD 10,000. You must also declare non-cash types of money.

How do I choose the right luggage bag to travel abroad?

When choosing the right luggage bad to travel abroad, you should look for the one that can fit all the items you plan to take with you to the new country. Make sure the bag is flexible enough and easy to move around. A four-wheeler stroller bag is a great option for those who want to keep the weight off their hands. If you choose to carry a backpack, make sure it is a wheeled one that you can use without having to use your hands.

Which medicines should I pack while travelling abroad?

While travelling abroad, you should pack some common medications for colds, headaches, coughs, etc. Before you move to the country, make sure the brand you are using is legal there. Some of these medications to include in your packing list are paracetamol, cough syrups, volini or moov spray, anti-allergy medicines, antiseptic creams or antiseptic liquids. If you are already on some preferred medication, you should also take them along with the prescription.

Which electronic devices should I include in my study abroad checklist?

You should include the following devices in your study abroad checklist:

  • Laptop

  • Cell phone

  • Headphones

  • Chargers for all your devices

  • Universal Adapter

  • USB cables

  • Pen drive

  • Portable power bank

  • Memory cards

Note: Your phone will not work while you are travelling abroad unless you buy a new SIM card. Also, calling rates are expensive in countries like the United States and other western nations. For this, you can use WiFi to contact your family using free applications like Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.

What should I bring to the USA as an international student?

As an international student travelling to the USA, it is recommended that you bring all electronic necessities such as an external hard drive, pen drive, charger, cell phone, adapter, laptop, and kitchen essentials that you may not find in the USA. Alongside, you should also bring medicines and prescriptions (if any), local currency along with standard clothing items that will be required depending on weather conditions in the city you are planning to relocate.

What should an international student bring to Australia?

As an international student, your Australian checklist should include passports, student visas, credit cards, air tickets, student cards, lodging proof, enrollment confirmation, academic transcripts, health insurance proof, and so on are all vital travel documents.  

Which documents are required to apply for a German student visa from India?

The required documents to apply for a German student visa from India are a valid national passport, German university admission letter, proof of German or English language proficiency, curriculum vitae, student health insurance, two duly completed national visa application forms, two recently taken passport photographs, academic transcripts, motivation letter, etc.


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