How to prepare for your international study experience

Your overseas study experience is fast approaching and it’s time to get organised. No matter whether you are travelling three hours to your destination or over 20, the preparation remains the same. We have outlined our top 12 things below to get organised for your upcoming move.

Choose your course and apply
First things first, you need to choose your course, apply and get accepted! Sounds easy right? 

The Australian Government has plenty of resources on all things studying abroad. Whether you are planning on travelling to Australia (here) or looking to study outside of Australia (here) there is a student information gateway that will point you in the right direction.

If these resources don’t suit your needs, we recommend getting in contact with an education agent for their best tips and tricks to picking the right country and course to study overseas. 

Pay for your tuition deposit fees
Now that you’ve been accepted into your desired course, it’s time to lock in your study by paying your tuition fees. While it might be second nature to transfer your fees through your regular bank at home, banks are notorious for setting the least competitive exchange rates and charging high fees for money transfers.

Cohort Go was founded to solve the problem of expensive international payments for overseas students. Our payments convert your currency at foreign exchange rates usually only available to large corporations. We then pass these savings directly on to you. Our payment platform is completely secure and reliable – giving you peace of mind that your money is safe as it travels to its final destination. And we save you cash in the process. Check out our top 3 tips on how you can save money on international transfers here

Get travel and health insurance
Knowing you are protected financially will give you peace of mind during the course of your trip, so locking this in should be a priority before you board your flight. 

Overseas student health cover (OSHC) is required for most students moving to Australia. A comprehensive policy will ensure that you’re covered if you need to visit a doctor, go to the hospital or any other medical emergency. You can read more on OSHC insurance, compare policies and get a quote here

Your travel insurance will generally cover personal belongings, travel plans and accommodation costs and should be booked on the day you pay your first costs towards the trip. 

Apply for a passport and visa
Once you’ve been accepted into your course, know which part of the world you are heading and have your OSHC sorted, it’s time to organise your passport and visa. This can be a lengthy process so make sure you apply as early as possible before you leave to minimise the risk of running into any trouble or speed bumps along the way. Check out our guide to applying for your visa in Australia.

Buy a plane ticket
Next up, get your plane ticket. Buying a one-way ticket might be the most exhilarating thing you will do when preparing for your trip… well, apart from actually boarding the plane. Locking in your flights will make this experience even more real and exciting.

Check out Skyscanner or Webjet for comparisons on the cheapest international flights worldwide. 

Research your destination’s local customs, culture, and people
Now for the fun part, researching your new ‘home towns’ local customs, culture and people. A basic Google search will give you plenty of articles and resources to study, however here are a few of our favourites below:

  • Lonely Planet
    • A leader in the travel space. Lonely Planet has thousands of articles and research on continents and countries all over the world. This is the ultimate guide to all the must do’s in your temporary home. 
  • Dondoo
    • The Dondoo website is a local’s insight of what is culturally unacceptable to do, say and act in your new host city. Anything from handshakes, table etiquette and public displays of affection are outlined on this website. Simply type in your destination and you will easily avoid offensive behaviour and be on your way to acting and speaking like a local in no time!
  • Culture Smart books
    • These books outline where to stay, what to see and how to travel Culture Smart. The Culture Smart series is written for the inquisitive traveler who wants more information on hotels and sightseeing, these guides offer an insight into the rich human dimensions of travel and often start where the typical guide books end. Navigate your way abroad with over 100 country guides in this wonderful series.
  • Blue Guides
    • Blue Guides have been continuously published since 1918 and have a strong focus on bringing beautifully presented, meticulously researched and clearly laid out guides to the public. This series features information on history, art and architecture through some of the most famous and heavily visited cities in the world.  

Refresh your language skills
Getting up to date on the language might seem like an impossible task, but it can often be quite fun and will make your life and experience much more authentic. 

Language apps can be a time efficient and cost effective way to learn a language. We recommend the following apps:

  • Duolingo App
    • Learning with Duolingo is fun and addictive. Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock and level up, a great way to learn a language and have fun while doing it. Download the app for FREE and start learning today. 
  • Rosetta Stone App
    • The Rosetta Stone app is comprehensive technology that uses images, text and sound to teach words and grammar by immersing you in the language. A proven effective method to learning another language. The app is free but comes with subscription options if you are wanting to expand into more learning. 
  • Google Translate
    • Get your very own personal interpreter in your pocket with Google Translate. This is perfect for when you arrive at your destination and for any communicating beforehand. Now not only available as an app, but can be fully integrated into your mobile so you can read messages on the go with no back and forward copy and pasting. 

We’ve also pulled together the four most interesting English idioms here and essential Aussie phrases

You won’t regret refreshing your language skills before your trip – we promise.

Choose your accommodation
The oh so daunting next step, where will you live? This comes down to personal preference and requires you to have a long hard think about what you want from this trip. Your living situation could affect your social life either positively or negatively. Some tips we think you should look into before settling on a place:

  • Consider all your options
  • Decide what you want from the location
  • Take your personal preferences into account

Read the full article on picking the right accommodation here

Set a budget
Setting your budget, a necessary but terrifying task. Studying abroad can be expensive, but it’s worth it for the international experience you will receive. Accommodation, food and drinks, health, entertainment, and your phone are just some of the expenses you will incur on top of your tuition fees. Follow our template on Melbourne, Australia here to set up your budget today. 

Visit a travel doctor
Booking an appointment with your doctor or a specialising travel doctor will ensure you are in top condition and are covered for any foreign illnesses. You could need vaccinations, medication, a routine check for existing medical conditions or an overall health check.

Timing is everything here, with 4-6 weeks before your trip being the sweet spot. This will give your doctor enough time to administer any required vaccines and make sure your body takes to them well before you depart.

Recommendations for vaccines and medications will depend on your individual medical history, where you are moving and what you will be doing when you get there. Some vaccinations are compulsory while others may also be recommended.   

Setting up your phone
Now for setting up your communication. There are a few things you need to organise before departing your home country. 

  • Talk to your home phone plan provider
    • You will need to double check whether your current phone will work while you are overseas. 
  • Unlock your phone
    • While you’re chatting with your provider about your plan options, make sure you ask them if it’s possible to unlock your phone. This will allow you to insert any SIM card into your current smartphone so you don’t have to pay for a new phone altogether. 

If both of these options fail it’s time to start researching the best phone plans available overseas. Read more information on setting up your phone here

Start packing

Last but not least, get packing. Your trip is getting close so dust your bags off, and sort through those clothes.


Author: Cohort Go

With Cohort Go, securely pay tuition fees, living expenses and other education fees in your local currency with competitive FX rates and no fees.