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For most international students, travelling overseas can be a little daunting. It is important to make sure that you are fully prepared so that when you arrive you know what to expect and can enjoy both studying and living abroad.

We’ve spoken to a number of international students and asked them for things they wish they had known before arriving in a foreign country.


Firstly, if you know anyone already in Canada, UK or other countries you intend to go or have studied abroad before, then speak to them. The next step is to tap into resources and information on the internet. Have a look around for an idea of the things you might need to consider.

Don’t be afraid to contact the university directly to ask about the course or other arrangements. Aside from this there are usually local advisers that will provide details on studying in the UK.

In terms of funding your studies, it’s important to plan and manage a budget and figure out a reasonable budget for studying and living abroad.


Ensure that you have all the relevant documentation and visas to allow you to study. Ask your educational advisor on what paperwork is necessary for your study abroad. They will be happy to help you!

. Before you move to overseas it is important to keep a few things in mind.

Culturally, the UK and Canada are very diverse and welcoming of people from around the world. You should be able to find many like-minded students that share a similar background and beliefs.

In terms of clothing, the UK and Canada are well-known for it’s cold and wet weather! Pack lots of warm and waterproof outfits for the winter months, and don’t expect summer to be very hot!

Most student budgets won’t be able to afford having the heating on all the time, so warm clothes are essential.


The first port of call when looking for somewhere to live is your university. They will often have guides or websites with information on university and local accommodation. You can also find many properties listed by landlords in our student letting agent’s directory.

A good idea is to live in university accommodation for the first year then make some friends to live with in your final years of university. University accommodation is a great place to meet new people and although coming from another country may be daunting everyone will be welcoming. Just remember that everyone is in the same boat.


It’s recommended to get a bank account. This will allow you to pay bills and keep your money safe.

The banks are relatively strict about the requirements for opening an account. This is because credit products are usually attached and thus they need to verify your details thoroughly. You will need the following:

Identification – a passport is usually required

Proof of address – both from back home and within this country, documents such as statements are acceptable

Proof of income – this may mean a credit check and interview to establish you will be able to maintain the account

Additionally, to obtain a student account you will need proof of your student status which is usually the confirmation letter from your University.

Student accounts are highly advised, as they offer numerous benefits including an interest free overdraft.

This should be a starting point for opening an account. Remember to always check with the bank on what specific requirements they have so you can be prepared with the relevant documents.


One of the first questions you may ask is if your current phone will work overseas. The answer is most likely yes! Most of the networks operates on the GSM band, which is the standard for most of the world. You can double-check what your home country and current phone is using

If you already have a phone, then you will need a new SIM card. Pay as You Go means that you top up the phone when your credit runs out and this is good for keeping an eye on your spending. Monthly contracts are usually better value as you will get free minutes and texts but you will have to pay out every month, coming with added long-term responsibility. If you’re likely to make international calls If you would like a new phone, check out student plans to get a great deal that will have minutes, text and data bundled together for a low monthly price. You can even keep the phone when then contract finishes.

For calling back home:
Recently there have been a host of low-cost international call providers. Alternatively, use Skype on your computer to call another Skype computer back home for free – this includes video chat!


Getting around can be daunting at first as there are many options. If you are traveling locally then look into getting a student bus pass.


Often students will need to move their stuff from abroad and back.
Additionally, your accommodation may not provide storage in between term times. However, there are options available to safely store your goods until you need them. The main considerations for a storage unit should be location of the unit and the price.


If you want some extra cash or valuable experience, then you may be wondering what your rights and options are. The short answer is you will be able to work while studying and possibly after the completion of your studies.


Make sure you speak to your respective university regarding any finances which may be made available to support your studies. There are also some external charities that offer bursaries for international students.

Moving overseas: The essential student checklist

As an international student, you will be joining one of the most fascinating and diverse communities in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to experience everything the new country has to offer – whether it’s in the theatres, galleries, and restaurants, or in the lecture hall and library. But first things first – moving overseas to study can take a lot of preparation.

Before you leave

Once you have applied for your course and received an offer from your chosen institution, there is still a lot to arrange before you arrive, to ensure you have a smooth start to your studies.

Your school, college or university can offer advice before you arrive – for example, helping you to arrange accommodation and giving tips about living and enjoying your time. You can also contact the British Council, which runs pre-departure briefings for students around the world. The pre-departure checklist:

  • Apply for your visa to study
  • Apply for a room in halls of residence, or find a room in private accommodation.
  • Apply for a scholarship or funding, if relevant, as well as planning your budget an
  • Find out if your institution offers an orientation programme for international students – this might include picking you up at the airport on arrival.
  • If not, plan your journey from the airport.
  • Gather official documents that you may need, such as school records and medical certificates.
  • Consider taking out travel insurance or health insurance.
What to pack Check with your airline to find out how much you can carry on your flight, and remember that most things can be purchased when you arrive.

The climate is variable, so bring clothes for both warm and cold weather.

The packing checklist:
  • Clothing and shoes for all seasons, including comfortable shoes for walking around, and an umbrella
  • Plug adaptors for electrical items
  • Favourite photos of friends and family, posters and pictures – some items to make you feel at home in your new room
  • Books and schoolwork that may be useful for your new course
  • Important documents (bring the originals, and scan or photocopy all important documents too, just in case):
  • your plane tickets, passport, visa, birth certificate and home driving licence if you have one.
  • all correspondence from your institution, including your offer letter and accommodation contract letter
  • evidence of funding for your tuition fees and living costs, including sponsor letter if applicable
  • health certificates, vaccination records and any important x-rays
  • any insurance documents.
  • Keep the following in your hand luggage:
  • All your important documents
    Enough money (in currency or traveller’s cheques) for your first couple of weeks
    Any valuable items – but make sure you don’t exceed your airline’s hand luggage allowance.
What NOT to pack
  • Food – there are strict rules for importing food
  • In your hand luggage, most airports have restrictions on sharp and flammable objects. Many also require liquids to be in containers of 50ml or smaller, packed in a clear plastic bag. Check with your airline before travelling.
At the airport When you arrive, you will have to go through immigration. Border officials will check your passport, visa and medical evidence, if applicable.

Next you will go through the baggage reclaim area to collect your luggage, then go through the customs hall.

Your first weeks The first few weeks in a new country can be hectic and exciting, but make time to get in contact with your family either by phone or email, as they will want to know you have arrived safely.

If this is your first time overseas, you may find that some procedures are different from those you are used to. It’s worth joining an international orientation programme if your institution offers one – this will help you to get to know many aspects of living and studying. There will also be a variety of social activities, giving you an opportunity to meet other students and make friends.

Many institutions also offer an ‘induction programme’ or orientation session for both international and local students – this is a chance to meet your tutors and be introduced to your course.