What to consider when planning to study abroad
Choosing to study abroad takes some upfront research and planning around the associated costs of an international education.
Learning abroad can provide you with an opportunity to experience new cultures, travel to exciting places and expand your world-view. It also gives you access to a high-quality international education that can make you stand out from the crowd when you finally pursue your chosen career.
But it also does take some careful, upfront planning to ensure that you choose the right institution, have adequately budgeted for your time at university and are able to make and receive payments while you’re abroad.
1. THE LOCATION
When considering studying abroad, you might be guided by which institutions you would prefer to enrol with, however, it is important to consider the location as well. Research the culture, language, climate and cost of living to narrow down your choices. The right culture and language fit may make it easier to acclimatise quicker to a new environment.
When deciding on the right location for you, consider where there may be better opportunities, the quality of the education you will be receiving, whether you could be close to friends or family, and if you will be able to experience the same standard of living as in your home country.
Additionally, to get into your preferred institution, particularly when there is competition and limited space to enrol, you will need the right subjects, grades and other experiences to be considered for acceptance. Research what the admission requirements are beforehand.
2. COSTS INVOLVED
Tuition fees and living expenses will likely make up a large proportion of the costs involved in studying overseas, however, there are additional costs that you should be aware of to ensure that you adequately prepare to cover these before and during your studies.
Some of the typical costs you should research include:
• Study materials: Textbooks and study materials will more than likely be required, whether you will be studying an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.
• Accommodation and meals: Consider the student accommodation that you would like to live in. Will you be living on-campus or renting an apartment? If you will be renting a private apartment, budget for deposits required, payment of monthly utility bills and transportation.
• Health insurance: Dependent on where you plan on studying, there may be requirements around health insurance cover during your stay. This will be an additional monthly cost to consider.
• Transportation: You may prefer to rely on public transportation, or would rather purchase your own private vehicle. Factor in not only the cost to purchase a car, but also the insurance, annual licensing fees and taxes you may have to pay in addition.
• Extra-curricular activities: Don’t forget to factor in any extra-curricular activities you may like to participate in, such as sports and hobbies. Joining clubs and purchasing the necessary equipment will need to be factored in as an additional cost, but also consider whether there will be travel required as well, such as attending games in neighbouring cities or countries.
Once you have a concrete understanding of the costs involved in learning abroad, plan your budget for during your stay. There will be many daily expenses that you will need to cover, but also bear in mind that there could be unexpected costs as well.
Unexpected costs could include:
• A trip to the doctor’s rooms
• Over-the-counter medicine
• Expenses relating to the courses you may be taking
• Vehicle maintenance, should you purchase your own car, etc.
You may also be planning to work part-time to help you cover your expenses, but it is wise to check first whether your institution or even the country that you will be staying in, allows for students to work. Certain visa regulations may prohibit you from working while studying, so rather first check before you take on that bartending job.
4. TRANSACTING WHILE OVERSEAS
Before you leave for your new adventure, an important consideration is determining how you will pay for your expenses while abroad. Currency fluctuations could leave you with less money than you anticipated during your planning if you are using your local bank account card to pay for overseas expenses.
Opening an international bank account before travelling abroad can assist with saving in the currency you’ll be spending in, as well as help with hedging against currency fluctuations. An international bank account is available in 4 major currencies (GBP/EUR/USD/AUS), allowing you to save and transact in the currency of your choice.
Standard Bank offers an Optimum and Platinum Optimum account. The accounts offer multi-currency transactional banking capabilities and access to international savings accounts, foreign exchange and a Visa debit card for easy payments and withdrawals.