Tips on the Study Abroad Process
posted by LIM College
By Jessica Tapiculin
The study abroad process was lengthy and a bit stressful for me. My first problem? 1. An expired passport. 2. A last minute visa appointment 3. My visa not being ready three days before my flight (which had me crying at the consulate) 4. Apartments I had wanted to rent suddenly becoming unavailable 5. Trying to fit four months of clothes into two suitcases!
The first four are completely preventable, but the last one—I'm sure we have all struggled, and will continue to struggle with that one!
These tips may make the process a little easier:
1. Keep copies of your documents. After getting accepted, make sure all your documents are up to date and keep copies of your passport/ID on your computer. You're going to need to send them to the school abroad and your landlord/real estate agent at least once.
2. Housing. If your school doesn’t offer housing, look for areas you like and then search for apartments. If you care about the proximity from your apartment to the school, start there. Even if you are a bit farther out, the Metro in Paris is so much easier to understand than the MTA. Since my school doesn’t have dorms or housing, I went through a Paris real estate agency, but airbnb is a great option too if you want to skip the additional fee. Student housing in Paris is also much harder to get into and around the same cost, if not more, than getting your own apartment.
3. Be aware of additional steps. Some countries require more steps than just your visa interview. If you are choosing to go to France, there is the “Campus France” portion. Fill out this form immediately or as early as you can! It takes two to three weeks to process, and after confirmation, you can schedule your visa interview ahead of time. I was unaware of this part and ended up being on a time crunch. The visa “interview” was the most annoying part of the process, but as long as you have the necessary patience and documents that are required, it should be a breeze. If you didn’t know already, it’s not a real interview. It’s basically just handing in your papers. Be prepared to wait a while at the consulate. I had to wait for three hours the second time I went. After your interview, your visa will be ready in exactly one week.
4. Create a budget. You may go over or be under your budget depending on your spending habits, but if you need to be careful about your spending, it gives a good estimate! Checking the exchange rate also helps in order to know what to expect. In four months, I’ve spent, in total, less than $5,000 for everything aside from rent.
5. Packing! Trust me when I say you probably won’t need two large suitcases plus a carry on like I did. At the end of my trip, I ended up packing a whole suitcase of clothes I didn’t use! So if you add up the $80 I had to spend just to have a second piece of luggage and the $200 extra for my luggage being a few pounds overweight at the airport, it equals a cute pair of shoes I could have had instead. In the event you want to buy some goodies while studying abroad, which I’m sure you will, travel a little lighter so you can bring back more special things without having to pay extra.
Finally, bienvenue a Paris (or wherever you may be studying abroad)!