6 Useful Tips to Avoid Pre-Departure Madness

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As the time of your departure to a whole new life is approaching, you’re probably having a whole mixture of feelings. I know I had it before I left to continue my study in the UK. As soon as I got my exam results out and my offer letter arrived, I felt a mixture of excitement, curiosity and a tinge of anxiety. There’s a whole new life ahead of me and I can’t wait for it to start. However, before I get myself on that plane, there were just so many things to prepare.

Looking back in my experience, here are some tips I would tell my excited-yet-anxious 18-year-old self to avoid that pre-departure madness!

 

1.     Visa: Don’t even think of delaying

Ok, well, this is a no-brainer. Visa application is definitely on the top of every one’s list when moving abroad. However, I’d like to reiterate to every one to never delay your visa application process. You might even encounter a problem with documents not being sent to you on time from your university. For instance, those of you who are going to study in the UK, you would need your university to issue what is called a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) form in order to start your visa application. A copy would be emailed to you and you need to carry it with you all the way until you reach the UK border. I believe a similar document would apply for other European universities, too.

In my experience, my university took quite a while to issue my CAS form, and needless to say, I panicked. I had to call up the university and rush them to send me the paperwork. So, if you encounter a similar situation during your visa application process, pick up that phone and don’t hesitate to make the expensive international call to your university. Sometimes, they’re just backlogged with hundreds — if not thousands — of applications they need to process. Explain that you need to have your paperwork sent to you ASAP, or risk for not being able to make it on time for your enrollment.

That being said, always start your application early and always check and re-check your documents. Make sure that you have all the correct ones and make a copy of everything, just in case. Remember, visa application centers receive way too many applications in this time of year and any mishaps on visa application can affect your future.

 

2.     Research, research, research

Find out about your university and destination country or city as much as you possibly can. If you’re going to be an undergraduate student in the UK, the first two weeks before university starts is called “Fresher’s Fortnight”, and it’s 2-weeks jam-packed with multiple activities to get you acquainted with your university. Know what’s happening and what opportunities are available for you to enrich your time in the university, such as students societies to join, volunteering opportunities and student support services. Getting as much information as possible before arriving will help the transition into your new environment smoother.

 

3.     Understand the enrollment process

Speaking of enrollment, before departing, make sure you fully understand the enrollment process in your university. Ask as many questions as you need to your university’s enrollment adviser if you are unsure about anything. Make sure you know what to do as soon as you arrive in your university, and plan to do them first thing. This process gets extremely tedious and you will most likely be faced with the longest queues.

Sometimes, enrollment also requires you to go through medical or legal verification. Prepare for these, too!

 

4.     Figure out what to bring vs. what to buy

I had to chuck about a quarter of the content of my luggage at the airport before leaving. Nobody likes having to re-pack their luggage because it’s overweight, nor do you want to pay the extortionate amount of excess luggage fees. Don’t leave packing to the last minute, and only bring things that you would need. Most stuff you can buy on arrival, anyways. So, girls I’m sorry, but no, you don’t need to bring three pairs of your gorgeous heels for uni. I understand you’d probably want to rock it at the Fresher’s Ball, but trust me, leave the space for more important things. I’m totally speaking from an experience here, so this is a legit advice.

If I could give more advice though, I’d say to buy most of your winter clothing or supplies when you have arrived in your destination country. It’s really up to you, though, but sometimes it’s actually cheaper to buy winter clothes in Europe than buying it in Indonesia.

 

5.     Pack some memorabilia

Homesickness could hit you hard, sometimes. So, I always suggest to bring some nice pictures of your friends and family from back home to pin on your noticeboard in your dorm room. Maybe, bring your high school almamater jacket or t-shirt along with you, too. Basically, just something that would remind you of home in case a bad case of homesickness hits. Plus, it’s totally fine to be nostalgic from time to time.

 

6.     Plan your farewells

I suppose the hardest part of studying abroad and starting a new life is this: the goodbyes. Trust me on this, you would want to have a decent amount of time to spend with your friends and family before your departure. Amidst the visa application, packing madness and the mixture of excitement and nervousness to start a whole new adventure, you might wonder how you would fit the time to have one last dinner before leaving the country. So, I urge you to plan your farewells, and despite it all being hectic, make some time for the people in your life who have been a great support system for you. The people in your life who have supporting this dream of yours to start a new adventure abroad. The goodbyes won’t be easy, but know that you’re going to go back to these people, with a whole lot of stories and experience to tell.

So, before you go forth to start a new adventure, I hope these suggestions would be of use for every one. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

 

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