For the past couple of month, I have been planning for my exchange and I have learned that a lot of work goes into preparing for your study abroad! Back in January I finally decided on Austria as my exchange destination! Being a History and English student, I felt that Graz, a historic and quaint city near Vienna, would be the perfect place for my exchange.
There are a lot of things to think about before travelling abroad such as a budget plan, health insurance, passport, flights, transferable courses, accommodations, student visa, banking, cell company, etc.
After being accepted to the university, you can start apartment hunting! This is an exciting and important step in the process of planning your exchange. I did have a hard time finding an apartment that was both centrally located and had newly renovated rooms. I waited patiently to find the perfect apartment, and sure enough, I did! I found a student accommodation link on the University website that led me to a brand new building located only four minutes away from the university. I will be living with two female roommates in an apartment style residence for exchange students.
I have also registered for three weeks of German language courses and a Buddy Program. The Buddy Program matches you with another student from the same university to help you settle into the new city!
As for my student visa, I will be travelling to Slovenia with a group of students to the Austrian Embassy to get it. The Buddy Program is responsible for planning the trip, along with other trips throughout the year that allow you to travel for cheap with other students while you’re abroad! I highly recommend getting involved in any extra activities the university offers, it is a great chance to meet people from around the world!
Researching courses taught in English at your university is crucial for making sure you are able to transfer credits! Prior to applying to the University of Graz, I researched courses they offer that would benefit my degree. I wrote down each course that I was interested in, how many credits and a brief description of the course. I had about fourteen courses selected that I brought to my academic advisor and she accepted nine of them to transfer over. While abroad I will only be enrolled in five courses but it is always good to have options!
I have unlocked my cell phone (which allows me to get a SIM card from another carrier). I plan to obtain a pay-as-you-go SIM card upon my arrival in Graz. The data plans in Europe are much cheaper than the data plans in North America!
I will also be waiting until arrival to set up a bank account. It is much easier to do in person and they usually offer student discounts!
I hope this information will help guide you as you plan for your Study Abroad!
Planning for Exchange Checklist
•Research host country and university prior to departure
•Make a budget
•Make sure home university approves courses at host university
•Apply to and obtain acceptance to host university
•Arrange accommodation while abroad
•Obtain valid passport (be sure to have AT LEAST 6 months left on your passport before it expires. Many countries will decline your entry if your passport is nearing the expiration date)
•Obtain necessary visa(s)
•Make sure you have sufficient health insurance while abroad
•Obtain necessary vaccinations
•Purchase airline ticket
•Arrange necessary banking
•Notify the Canadian Government of travel plans using their online form
•Sign up for the Buddy Program