Starting university is an exciting and transformative experience, but it also requires careful planning and preparation. To make sure you don’t get out of the car, train or plane and instantly arrive with any unpleasant surprises, here are some of the most important practicalities to take care of before leaving.
Visa and Immigration: if you're an international student, this is an absolute must (sometimes to even get into the country). You need to ensure that you have all the necessary documents and permissions to study in your chosen country. Make sure you apply for a student visa and any necessary permits as soon as possible.
Student Loans: if you're eligible for taking out a student loan, it's important to understand the terms and conditions of the loan. You need to know how much you're borrowing, how much interest you'll be paying, and when you need to start making payments. Some countries also require some proof of financial independence (such as a loan) before letting you in.
Housing: you need to secure accommodation for your stay at university. Staying at a hotel or hostel will get expensive quickly, and typically most accommodations will already be fully booked. Check your university's website to see if they offer any accommodation, and if not, start looking for alternative options such as private rentals or shared housing.
Grades and Transcripts: some students had already begun with their first courses when they realized they hadn’t passed with their grades. Ensure that you have submitted all the necessary documents such as high school transcripts, test scores, and other academic records that may be required by the university. Deadlines are deadlines, and universities can be notorious for having a zero-tolerance policy for any late submissions.
Bank Accounts: it's a good idea to open a bank account in your university's country to help manage your finances. Remember that some countries don’t even allow you to register without a local bank account. Also make sure you have the right cards to pay for your daily needs, as some countries only allow certain forms of payment (e.g. cash, credit, debit). You may need to provide proof of address and identification, so ensure you have these documents readily available.
Health Insurance: you need to ensure that you have adequate health insurance coverage during your stay at university. Not having any insurance can lead to a hefty fine, and the government will eventually realize track you down (staying under the radar only works for so long). Be proactive about it, and organize it as soon as possible. Many universities provide health insurance for their students, but if they don't, you may need to purchase your own.
In summary, starting your university life is exciting, but make sure to put in the preparation work beforehand so that you’re not dealing with any major issues straight away!