In the application stage, most Indian students focus a lot on MBA entrance exams (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL). Once that is done, there’s a whole list of complicated admissions requirements for studying abroad – like getting recommendations, academic transcripts, writing application essays, managing student financing, tackling student visa interviews.
One important area of research generally gets pushed to the sidelines.
Here’s a quick guide covering the key points that every Indian student needs to be aware of while studying overseas.
These points are applicable to students joining a university in USA, UK, Canada, France, Spain, Australia, Germany and almost all other popular countries for Indian students.
What Indian students need to do before going abroad
If you’ve never travelled overseas, the most confusing moment would be when you land at the airport. As the number of desi faces around you (the same guys who made you feel at home during the long flight) start dwindling, reality starts biting. You are all by yourself in a new place!
No point in scratching your head after landing wondering what to do next. Here’s what you can do before you take off.
Buy the curriculum books you need from India
Text books can be very expensive abroad. Some are recommended as mandatory reading for the curriculum. Unlike India where piracy laws are flouted openly, they are followed judiciously in other countries that attract Indian students.
You can’t go and photocopy the chapters you need either (bad engineering habits!). For one, you’d be going against the copyright law. And secondly, photocopying is expensive too.
In many universities, students may get a fixed set of credits that set a quota on how many free copies you can get. Beyond that you’d have to pay for it.
The good news is that you’d be able to buy the Indian edition of the same book at a fraction of the dollar price.
Buy your clothes from India
Clothes are more expensive than books. And they are mandatory too.
Apart from what you need for daily wear (T-shirts, jeans, sneakers, inner-wear), you’d have to be ready for the formal events (like recruitment, presentations, corporate networking meetings). Buy a suit, formal black shoes, ties and anything else you need from our dear motherland.
Get a new suit stitched instead of pulling out the (now ill-fitting) one that you wore for your undergraduate graduation event. Your mug-shot will be plastered on the year book, brochures, social media page.
If you are heading to a city that has extreme heat/cold fluctuations, carry the relevant gear. You’d have to be careful not to go overboard with this. For instance, don’t carry snow shoes and skiing equipment because you are expecting a snowy December.
Build a little survival kit for the initial days
Maggi and MTR ready meal packets won’t get you too far. You’d need to start cooking soon. Instead of carrying a month’s supply of food items, if you prefer desi food, carry a cooker. You won’t get it easily from the pardesi shops.
The rest (spices, lentils, rice, pulses) are not an issue, as you’ll find them in most malls.
Pharmacies are stricter abroad with many categories of medicines. Ensure that you have the doctor’s prescription for the crucial medicines that you are dependent on.
Pay a visit to the dentist and ensure that you have a functioning set of teeth that will withstand the grinding forces of food and stress over the next two years.
Buy your laptop from India
It’s a pre-requisite for most graduate courses. Though you’d have access to computers on the college campus, having a laptop gives you independence and mobility.
You’ll need it for completing assignments, doing research, creating presentations, and listening to soothing classical music from Pandit Yo Yo Singh when you get home sick.
Buy it from India and load it with all the software you need, including Microsoft Office, anti-virus (the basic version of Avast is free and quite powerful). Stick to original software that has a license and online support for add-ons, updates.
Shop around for the best deals for airfare
Student ticket sales are seasonal as most under-graduate and graduate around the same time. If you keep it till the last minute, the airfare can burn a big hole in your pocket.
In fact, even working Indian professionals in countries like the U.S. who earn decently plan for their India trips once every few years. As a student, this would be among the top pre-flight expenses you’ll incur.
The airline ticket prices can vary a lot depending on when you buy the ticket, for which sector (direct or with hops) and the airline. So start researching early.
Take care of your foreign exchange requirements
While you ensure that the big ticket items (like arranging for the student loan, accommodation) are getting a tick mark, also think about the smaller expenses that’ll hit you from the minute you arrive in the new country.
Ensure you have enough cash – (US or Canadian) Dollars, (British) Pounds, Euros etc – to allow you to take the local transport, buy basic grocery and in general survive for the first few days/weeks before you get your local bank account and debit /credit card.
Get a travel insurance. If your luggage gets misplaced, it’ll help you buy new stuff without dipping into your own savings.
Remember that there’s a weight limit for the flight baggage. So don’t look at it as a competition with other Indian students to see how much you can squeeze into the suitcase.
And in the national interest, please don’t wrap up your suitcases with thick ropes, brown tape and secured with a 2 kg lock. It looks hideous and doesn’t do much anyway.
If the temptation to do so arises, remind yourself that you are carrying inanimate objects in the suitcase, not a wild infected animal that’s looking to break free and wreak havoc in the new country.
Image source: Tom Ayzenberg | Packing Like a Pro | Youtube