Where to study abroad?
Studying abroad is a once-a-life-time experience, and picking the right destination is key to making the most of your experience.
However, it’s not easy to decide, as there are plenty of choices and countries you can go to. I’ve been in your shoes, and I know that it’s overwhelming.
In this guide, I’ll share my tips and things you can do to choose your future study abroad destination.
Write down places you want to travel
Where are your dream destinations?
Studying abroad offers an excellent opportunity to explore the world.
This is your chance to both earn high-quality qualifications while ticking off your travel bucket list destinations.
So think about the regions, or the countries, or even landmarks.
- Which geographical area have you’ve always wanted to visit?
- Do you want to explore the ancient relics and monuments?
- Are you into fashion and art?
- Do you like activities outdoors and being with nature?
- What culture fascinate you? Are you interested in the diversity of Asian cultures?
When you decide the area and region, you can choose a country. You can consider if it’s easy to move around or if that country is easy to reach other countries in the area.
Consider geographical distance
Another factor when deciding where to study abroad is the distance.
If you have families or special situations you need to visit home often, you should consider the distance between your home country and overseas.
Every time you come home to visit, you’ll have to prepare well in advance, and the trip could be expensive.
For example, if you study in the America or Europe and you’re from Asia, it takes you nearly two days, of which almost one day is on the plane to go home.
Also, it costs up to hundreds of dollars for air tickets, train tickets, taxis, etc.
Decide what you want to study.
Knowing the field of study will also help narrow down the list of your study destination.
Some countries are well-known for their expertise in specific fields and industries.
Therefore, it would be a massive boost for your knowledge and career training.
Research career opportunities
I know it’s a bit too early to think about your future career, but it’s an important step.
Whether you plan to stay and work overseas after finishing your study or think about working in your home country, you should look into career opportunities in different countries.
Not all countries have good opportunities for foreigners to study and work after graduation.
Also, some countries favor students who study in specific fields and offer great job opportunities.
For example, there is an increased demand for civil engineers with great perks in New Zealand. Or Australia offers jobs for those who study IT and tech fields.
Think about language compatibility
The language barrier could be a huge problem, as some courses require learners to use the native language.
Also, if you study in a country where English is not common, it could be challenging to adapt to your new life.
Therefore, if you plan to study abroad, you need to consider your language skills. Consider whether you’re good enough to study or live in that country.
For example, when you go to Japan to study at university, even if you study in English, you should learn basic Japanese before you go.
Or, if you want to study in German, most undergraduate programs only have courses in German. So you will need at least B1 to apply for the degree.
Also, with specific fields such as culture, language, literature, etc., you still have to study and research in the native language, so you need a high level of that language.
Consider cuisine, culture, and customs.
Each country has its own culture, cuisine, and customs, so you should consider them when deciding where to study abroad.
Have you ever imagined that everything you eat has chili? When you eat, you feel like burning in your throat and constantly have tears and runny nose if you are not used to it? This will surely happen if you study abroad in Korea.
Or if you’re from Asia and used to eating rice, you may not feel comfortable with the cuisines in some European countries, which have lots of potatoes and pasta.
Or some cities are so small, and there are no restaurants that serve your hometown food. It also could be challenging to buy the ingredients to make the food yourself.
Also, the host country’s culture could be very different from your own. I was shocked to find people don’t wear clothes in hot springs in Japan.
Therefore, you should find and choose a country with cultures, customs, and practices suitable for you, or at least you can adapt.
Research the cost of study and living
How much does it cost to study at your desired destination? What is your budget?
Some countries have expensive study and living costs, such as the UK, USA, Japan, Singapore, or Nordic countries.
If the country you pick has expensive living costs or the university you choose has too high tuition fees, but your budget is not enough, your study process may be affected in the middle of the road.
I know some people who can’t afford it, and they have to give up halfway. Many families have to borrow, mortgage assets, sell land, sell houses, etc., to cover the cost.
For those who have scholarships, especially full scholarships, you still should plan your budget carefully. No one can expect future circumstances.
Some countries, such as Germany and Finland, have a tuition-free policy, and learners only have to take care of living expenses. These countries can be excellent choices if you’re low on budget.
Opportunity to work during your study
If you want to work during your study to earn more experience and support yourself, it’s essential to research the opportunities and working conditions.
In some countries, students are not allowed to work, and some let learners work for a certain period each week.
Also, some countries provide excellent opportunities for international students to work part-time.
The criteria for each country are different, so you should research properly.
Check visa requirement
Every country has different visa requirements. Not every country is easy to apply for a student visa, especially in the case of self-supporting study or work-study.
Also, sometimes it may take a long time for visa processing, and the visa costs may vary.
If you intend to stay after graduation, you also need to pay attention to the opportunity to apply for a residence card and visa extension.
Many countries only allow graduates to stay and look for jobs for a short time. It could be challenging for you as a foreigner.
Have you thought about the case of studying abroad and constantly worrying if the war will happen, if there will be an earthquake or tsunami yet? Then, can you rest assured of learning?
If you don’t want to be stressed for these reasons, it is necessary to consider the security situation of the destination country.
Once you feel safe, your learning and research will be smooth and successful.