So, you have already have received your acceptance from ‘X’ University of ‘Y’ country, applied for visa and just counting your days to get it to be approved. Perhaps, some of you have already got your visa and started to pack your bags for the departure. If you fall into these two categories this article is for you.
Book the Air-ticket:
This is the must do thing before you pack your bags. Once your VISA is approved, you should book or purchase your air-ticket ASAP. The travel industry have classified the 12 months schedule into three different season for the purpose of pricing airline tickets: High season (June 15 — Aug 31 and Dec 15 — Jan 06), Low season (November — March, excluding Christmas), and Shoulder season (fall and spring). During the high season the ticket prices will be higher and lower during low season, and the shoulder season stands for not too crowded or too empty. So, it is obvious that you will fly for your classes during the high season. Once you have got a confirmation of your VISA, purchase the ticket immediately.
What is the thumb rule?
There is a thumb-rule of not buying plane tickets more than about four months before your departure date. In most of the cases, students usually get their VISA 2–3 months before their class starts. To find a cheap flights, you can start looking for the price rate of your intended flight once you applied for the visa, and keep an eye out for sudden sales. If no sale is coming along then you should plan to buy ticket about eight to ten weeks before your travel date. Those who get the visa at the eleventh hour, there is a high chance that you would have to buy ticket at higher rates. However, you might keep an eye for the last-minute sales e.g. if someone cancel his/her ticket at the last hour, the airlines usually sell it for a cheaper price.
If you find the ticket price to be expensive, then might talk to your local travel agencies. They have the detailed information about the pricing of tickets from different airports, and they can really arrange a cheap ticket for you. For example, you are from Bangladesh and you got your visa just 15 days before your class starts. You found that the ticket from Dhaka International Airport to the major cities in USA are highly expensive. But from India, the ticket price is still lower. So what you can do that you can initially go to India, and then fly from there to USA. If you want to arrange it by yourself it will be somewhat difficult for you, but your local travel agency can easily make that route for you.
Still the airfare is expensive!!!
There is a solution to it. Suppose you are flying from India to University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota. Generally, your flight will be from your country to a major international airport where the immigration will be done, and then you will be flying to the local airport of that city. You can fly from e.g. Mumbai to New-York or Chicago, and from their you can take connecting flights to the local airport or the airport in the nearest big cities. If you fly to the local airport sometimes the ticket will be expensive.
The local airport in Grand Forks, does not have any direct flights towards the big cities. The airlines will take you to Minneapolis first, and from there you will take the flight to the major cities. And for that reason, any flight from Grand Forks to any big cities in USA is costlier. So, people usually take buses or trains to go to the nearest major airport and fly from there. Though it is quite challenging for the first time traveler to take the similar approach to save some money, you can think of it. Trust me you will be able to save at least 200 bucks.
Shopping before you pack your bags:
You can’t take everything you want, so pack your bags lightly. Every airline has restrictions on how many bags you can check and carry and how much they can weigh — cause you have to pay some extra bucks for going over the limit. Layout everything you want to take and then reduce it as per necessity.
Before you pack your luggage with garments, you might want to check the year round temperature of the country you are going to. People who are going from tropical countries to foreign institutions in cold region should check the year round temperature, especially during the winter. In some countries, winter is severely harsh. So you need to pack some extra winter jacket, thermal inner, and hoodies for regular season.
You should also pack some jeans, formal shirts — pants, complete suit, t shirts, pair of keds and formal shoe, hand gloves and other regular clothing accessories and items for yourself. Formal dresses are necessary because you will often present your work in seminars, conferences and also attend the career fairs, for those events the dress code is business formal or business casual.
Purchasing luggage before you pack your bags:
If you are traveling outside of your country for the first time, then you are going to purchase luggage to pack your bags. Before buying the luggage and hand luggage you should check with the airlines about the recommended dimension of the luggage. While you buying luggage, make sure that the luggage is light weight so that you can pack some extra clothes or other stuff while you travel.
Assuming that you are buying a new backpack for your journey, and while buying it make sure that it has a separate compartment for carrying the laptop. It would be better if the compartment is well padded so that it can absorb any kind of shock load.
This includes laptops, tabs, smartphones, portable hard drives, USB drives. If you have that bring with you, there is no meaning of buying a new laptop for your new journey unless you get it as a gift. If you decide to bring your smart phone with you make sure it works with other network. You might want to backup your data, necessary software in your portable hard drive.
If you plan to buy a new one after you arrive at your new destination, you should check online with the websites e.g. Best Buy, Apple, Lenovo, Microsoft — they offer student deals on various devices. If you are not so picky about brand new device, you can buy certified manufacturer refurbished product, and trust me they function as like as brand new product. However, you will find great deals during Black-Friday and cybermonday deals during the Thanksgiving week and afterwards — if you can wait till then, then you can save 200–400 bucks on your big gadget e.g. laptops, DSLR.
Spices (for Indo-Pak-Bangla) Region Only:
People from the South East Asia and Middle Eastern region have different cuisine style. They use different types of spices while they cook. Even a simple meshed potato fry is being cooked using 3–5 different spices, and for every other curry people from this region use different spices. So if you are from this region, and unless you are going to big metro cities — you should allocate 2–3 Kg in your luggage to carry the spices.
In big cities, you will have different international stores which will have those kind of spices, but in small towns you might have to drive 30 min or 1 hour to go the near by next city to buy spices. Now a days, most of the common spices are available online. But nothing can beat the original desi masalas. Buy some before you pack your bags.
Not sure about other countries, but prescribed medicines in USA is too much expensive. Even with the health insurance, the co-pay is huge. So if you regularly take medicines, please make sure that you have at least six months supply. You can’t use your local prescription in abroad, so better you have your supply. However, you can always buy counter drugs e.g. drugs for fever, cough, headache etc. without prescriptions, if needed.
ET (Eye-Teeth) Treatment:
Though as an international student, you must have health insurance once your class starts — but those health insurance won’t cover your eye and teeth in some countries e.g. in USA. So, before you leave your country — see the doctor and dentist and fix your problem. If you wear glasses, make sure you buy some extra pair.
You should take care of this issue while you pack your bags at home. Probably, one of the difficult task — unless you know someone who is already studying over there. First of all, drop the idea of living in the student dormitory — it’s too expensive. Half of your scholarship money will be gone if you decide to live in the dorm. Generally, international students especially graduate students don’t want to live in student dorm or in on-campus housing. Because in most of the universities, the on-campus housing is expensive.
The best way to find cheap reliable housing info is to find someone from Facebook group from that university. International students from different countries maintain their individual platform on Facebook, you might search for those group and join. In every semester, students graduate from their respective school, and their roommates look for new roommate.
Other than that, some student move to new place and want to transfer their old lease. So you might look for those information in the relevant Facebook group. Some universities have listing of verified off-campus housing in their websites, you might also check from the university website. If you don’t find any relevant info, then just google for it “X university off-campus student housing”, and you will get tons of info. Apart from that, you can contact with the international student organization, they have student representatives who can hook you up with someone who will help you to find a place. If none of those work, then Craigslist is your last resort.
Managing the Finance:
If you are a self-funded student, then probably you already have opened a student account with your local bank and have transferred your tuition fees. Now you just need some extra money for your initial 3–6 months living till you get an on-campus job, or if you already have some sort of assistantship from your university, then probably you just need to take one month expense and some initial seed money for your early settlements.
Most of the time, 3K to 5K USD would suffice. From some countries transferring money to the countries in abroad is a hectic job. So, better you take either cash with you or travelers check. Most of the students prefer to carry cash because it is the easiest process. Just make sure that you stay within the limit, and don’t loose the money. In some countries, you have to endorse the amount of the cash in your passport. However, you can always carry extra cash, and none will notice.
Passports, tickets, offer letter from university, academic documents and all other legal documents — these should be with you while you are traveling. Make sure that, you make scanned copies and upload them in your google drive or drop box, so that if any of the document is lost you might use the soft copy in an emergency scenario. Also, you might want to bring some true copy of your academic transcripts so that you might use them later, while applying for PhD.
Everyone has their own individual check list, but above mentioned points should be considered once you start preparing for your journey beyond your border.
Disclaimer: No A.I. was used to generate any portion of this content.