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Congratulations on getting a place at an overseas university!

You’ve got a lot of exciting activities ahead of you, but before the fun begins, you need to get serious for a minute or two. You need to get organised. This isn’t your usual week away in Europe, this is living and studying abroad for months (maybe even years).

Don’t fear though, we’re here to help. We’ve put together this list of 10 essential things for you to remember (and get organised) before you study abroad.

1. Check your passport.

If you’re reading this thinking “obviously”, then well done, you’ve passed the first test. But whilst having a passport seems obvious, checking it is still in date often slips people’s minds.

Find your passport and make sure it’s in date. It may seem like an obvious to-do but it’s surprising just how many of us forget where we stashed our passport, or suddenly notice that our passport photo (and valid from date!) is really ten-years-old.

If you need to renew an existing passport or order a new one, head to GOV.UK.

2. Check visa requirements.

Check if you need a visa before entering the country. Places like Turkey require you to purchase a visa before you enter the country. Take a quick look online and book your visa before you travel.

Your university should be able to help you figure out what you need. You may need a special student visa, and if you plan to do any form of work while you’re abroad, you’ll almost certainly need a work visa.

3. Get yourself a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

A valid EHIC gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.

The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free.

It’s free to get the card, so if you are a British citizen read more and apply here. If you are a citizen of another European Economic Area country, consult your health service for more advice.

4. Insurance is a must.

Insurance may seem like a luxury, but it is essential (especially when you’re heading off to study abroad).

Double check that you’re not already covered by your host or home university’s insurance – this can sometimes be the case with exchange student programs. And if you’re not covered, it’s time to take out your own policy.

Standard 2-week cover isn’t going to do. Make sure your policy covers: the length of your stay, your destination and any sport or winter activities that you’re planning or partaking in.

5. Keep copies of important documents.

Record important phone numbers and addresses somewhere other than your phone and purse/wallet – these are prime targets for thieves and you never know when your phone will run out of battery.

You should record the details of the nearest embassy/consulate, the lost/stolen phone number of your card provider and the emergency and non-emergency police numbers for the country you are visiting.

Keep copies of your important documents such as your passport, insurance policy documents, travel documents such as visas, etc. And again, keep them separate from the originals.

6. Paying your fees.

Money isn’t one of the most exciting subjects, but if you think ahead about paying your tuition and accommodation fees, you can save money for more exciting things.

Don’t default to using your bank or high street Bureaux de Change for these payments as you could be ripped off. Do some research before you go and see if you can make your payments when the exchange rate is in your favour.

FairPay is a simple, hassle-free way to make international payments. The service offers market leading exchange rates, no transfer fees or commission and access to a secure, simple online system.

7. Managing money.

If you’re heading abroad to study, you’ll need to budget and manage your money well. You actually need to do an even better job than you do at home. After all, you don’t want to be stuck in another country without any money.

Some top tips: opening a bank account in your destination country will be difficult, if at all possible. Using your debit or credit card from the UK could be very expensive – due to the fees and rates that come with spending abroad. Prepaid currency cards, on the other hand, offer better rates and lower fees – and they’ll help you manage your budget.

A FairFX Currency Card comes with award-winning exchange rates. It helps you stick to your budget. It’s chip and PIN secure, with no rip-off fees. And you can use it wherever MasterCard cards are welcome (in over 210 countries).

8. Packing your bags.

On to something a little more fun – getting your new wardrobe kitted out for your trip.

You’re probably going to over-pack with clothes and some homely touches for your new digs. Don’t fear though, you can always get the help of My Baggage when it comes to shipping excess baggage.

Don’t forget to squeeze in all of the important documents that we’ve been discussing… probably best to keep them on you whilst you travel, in case you need them at any airports or border crossings.

To make sure your luggage ends up where you want it, when you want, choose My Baggage. They’re the student shipping experts, transporting students’ belongings all around the world. They will arrange a collection of your excess baggage and will deliver anywhere in the world for less than you think.

9. Prepare for a new culture.

Heading to another country to study can sometimes cause a culture shock. At your new destination, not everything will be done as it is at home. Heading halfway across Europe or halfway around the world drops you into a whole lot of new customs, cultures and cuisines.

That’s no reason to stay at home of course, that’s probably one of the main reasons that you’re studying abroad. Just so that you’re not completely overwhelmed when you get there, have a little read up on where you are heading to. Find out about some of the common customs and best foods to try before you go – no need to read every travel guide under the sun, of course.

10. Talk to your university.

Your university should be a key source of knowledge before and during your studies. If you’re unsure of anything regarding studying abroad, ask the exchange, placement or study abroad team at your university.

Whether you’re doing a placement year or your whole degree abroad, make sure you know about all of the support your university can provide. If you face any difficulties whilst you’re abroad, they may also be able to help.

Guest post written by Miles Hobson, from www.fairfx.com.

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