Studying abroad can be an unforgettable experience; a chance to learn a new culture, new language and make a whole new set of friends from another part of the world. When looking to study abroad, there are certain things you can do to be better prepared.

Plan ahead

If you know that you want to study abroad, try and start to plan ahead as soon as possible .For example, if you know that you want to study in your third year of university, you should start to lay the groundwork in your second year, or even towards the end of your first year. This includes financial planning, researching the different countries and cities available to you and exploring what study options are available.

You will need to look into the study abroad programmes offered by your institution and how the application works – you don’t want to miss out on a study abroad experience because you applied too late.

Once your study abroad placement is confirmed, you will need to look into other logistical matters such as where you are going to live, registering for classes and visas. You could also look into different clubs, societies and meet-ups to get you excited for your trip and maximise your opportunities to meet people.

Studying abroad can also set you up very nicely for a role back home. For example, you may study marketing in Spain or France and then move back to the UK to work for an SEO agency in Essex, London or Manchester. It may well be the case at times, that skills and experiences gained abroad can be brought back home, benefiting you and your future employer.

Learn the language

Although it is easy to assume that everyone speaks English, you should always attempt to learn the local language of where you are going and communicate with the local people in their own language. One of the great benefits of studying abroad is learning a new culture and having an amazing opportunity to learn a language and practice on a daily basis. Although it can be intimidating to speak a new language, the majority of people will be grateful that you’re making an effort. There are many ways you can learn a new language, from language-learning apps like Duolingo to help practice the basics, to online classes or language clubs before you go. Once there, you can take classes or attend language exchanges.

Most study abroad programes offer foreign language courses at all levels so that you can make language-learning a key part of your time there. There is also the option of staying in a homestay and living with a host family, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the local culture.

Start saving

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity; but it can also be expensive. Once you have decided your location, you should start looking for ways to save money. Between rent, food and additional travelling costs, there are many expenses you need to consider. In some cases however, you may be able to get a grant to help with your overseas studies.

If it’s feasible, think of ways you can earn money in the lead up to your trip such as part-time jobs or an internship.

Whether it’s childcare, tutoring, waiting tables or working on-campus jobs, there are lots of jobs that could offer the flexibility of working alongside your studies. Also consider budgeting and trying to curb your spending in the months leading up to your study abroad. Depending on your school, there could even be scholarships or grants available which could help you when studying abroad.

Equip yourself with the right cards

From your phone’s SIM card to your debit card, you need to think about the most sensible options. When it comes to your phone, try and get a local SIM card as soon as you can to avoid the sky-high fees of accidentally using your data roaming. While many places have WiFi, having phone data at all times will make it far easier to get around, navigate yourself and make plans with people. It is worth checking what your current phone plan includes before going abroad.

You should also get a debit or credit card that you can use abroad. International cards, like Monzo or Revolut, often boast the best exchange rates so that you’re not hit with extra transaction fees or unfavourable rates. Explore the best credit or debit cards for your needs that allow you to pay for things internationally in the local currency.