Each and every year there are thousands of students going abroad to study. Mostly they leave for at least 4 months, popular countries are: Spain and England. Barcelona, Valencia, Oxford and London are the most commonly chosen cities. Students often see the opportunity to study abroad as a once in a lifetime chance. Later on, you will probably be restricted by obligations such as: family and work.
Although currently there are dozens of travel restrictions due to Covid-19. Covid-19 made a lot of travelers and students cancel their travel plans. Most countries were closed for tourists and students over the past months. In addition to that, there was also a lot of uncertainty about staying in foreign countries during these times. Under these circumstances most people preferred staying home.
Of course, this situation will get over, and then there still will be more than enough time to study and travel abroad.
In this blog I will take you through the steps you need to take before leaving abroad to study. Of course, these steps can be affected by different things, like:
- The duration of your stay
- The country your visiting, is this country in- or outside the European Union?
- Your age
- Will you be working while being abroad?
So, always make sure to check those things strictly with your local authorities.
Before choosing a city or country for your time abroad, there are a few basic things you should take into account, for example what languages can you speak and what kind of weather would you like to be in. Those aspects can as well make your choice easier. Do you want to be in a country where it’s mostly sunny? Then the South of Europe will be good for you. Are you limited on speaking foreign languages? Then you might rather choose a country where the people at least speak English fluently.
So, let’s assume the country you will be choosing is inside the European Union, the duration of your stay won’t be longer than 8 months, you’re older than 18 years and you will not be working will being abroad.
Choosing the location
First things first, pick a country where you wish to go to. Once you have chosen a country, try to make a choice for a city. Once you have made those choices, check if your school or university has partner schools in the city you wish to study. Most schools and universities have a lot of partner schools around the globe, so great chance you can find something to your likings. For example, my school has partner schools in The United States, South America, in Asia, in Australia and all across Europe: Spain, France, Germany, Greece, etcetera.
When you have found a school, check the amount of credits you will be rewarded after completion. Make sure you know the exact rules, so your credits will be also valid in your own country. Trust me, you don’t want to be doing all this schoolwork just for nothing!
It’s much recommended to take a partner school. Besides the general agreements there will already be made by your school, it’s also much cheaper. If you have already paid your tuition fee for the schoolyear, you don’t have to pay any extra tuition for your time abroad. This won’t count for non-partner-schools.
While being in The Netherlands you can get a monthly study grant from ‘DUO’, you can still get this while being a different country. There are some conditions to still get this, make sure to check those terms and conditions with ‘DUO’.
Normally as a Dutch student you would have access to a student travel product, this allows you to travel through the whole country ‘for free’. After completion of you study this travel product will be seen as a gift. Despite this travel product can’t be used abroad, you can get a monthly allowance for public transport expenses.
VISA and Work Permit
As long as you stay within the European Union you won’t need a VISA or Work Permit. But if you travel outside the European Union you often need those documents. Make sure to request those documents in time, a few weeks or even months in advance.
Housing for students
Definitely one of the most important things to take care of. The place where you will spend quite some time while being abroad. There are many websites and agencies that can help you find your accommodation. Make sure to choose for a reputable company or agency, because there are a lot of scam websites and agencies. The last thing you want is arriving in the city and find out that there’s no place to stay.
Depending on the location of your accommodation you might also take hiring a car in consideration. Sometimes this can save you a lot of time and travelling, but keep in mind it can be expensive. Valencia will most likely not require a car, since public transport is well taken care of. But for example, in Curacao you definitely need a car because public transport is hardly there.
If you’re going abroad with one or more friends from your school, you could also see if you can find an accommodation with each other. This might save you some money and besides that it’s much more fun! You can look up Airbnb and try to find a nice place to stay, you might even find some place with your own swimming pool, wouldn’t that be great!
When your stay is less than 8 months, there’s no need to change your address with your local city council. This is only mandatory for a stay for more than 8 months.
Your standard health insurance will often cover the essentials, also while being abroad. There can be some terms and conditions on this, so sort this out in advance. Besides health insurance, you must also have a household and a liability insurance. This will probably cost you only a small amount of money, roughly €10 monthly.
Last, but not least: your trip to your minor-city. Depending on the location you could either choose for travelling by car of by plane. On longer distances I would like to recommend travelling by plane. Look up where the closest airport is. In case of Valencia there is an airport very close to the city center, it’s less than 30 minutes driving from the center. From this airport you can easily take a taxi, the bus or a metro to Valencia. Bus or metro will cost you less than €10 for a one-way.
Cheaper flight tickets
It is clever to book your ticket long in advance to your departure, flight tickets are usually much cheaper months in advance. There are websites which allow you to set a price-alarm, when flight tickets get cheaper, you’ll receive a notification.
Besides that, it’s generally smart to compare multiple websites to find the cheapest tickets. Flexible travel dates can also lower the cost of your ticket. Travelling a few days earlier to your destination could save you some serious money, furthermore this will give you some extra time to explore the city and see where everything can be found. On top of that, it will make you less dependent on flight delays. You can start your minor-period without any travel stress.
According to The Guardian flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays will make your flight tickets as cheap as possible. On these days businessmen and -women won’t fly that often, so it will be less busy.
One-way or return tickets
Keep in mind that for some countries, with VISA-obligation it’s required to book a return ticket. So, please do this in order to prevent unnecessary expenses. One-way tickets can be cheaper when you don’t need a return ticket for a VISA. In this case I would recommend booking your one-way to Valencia long in advance and to book your one-way ticket to The Netherlands a few months or weeks before leaving Spain.
Don’t make this a last-minute thing. Pack your luggage a few days before leaving. Look it over a few times after packing it, find out if you did not forget something. While checking that, also check the expire date of your travel documents such as your ID or Passport. The expiry date must be after you have returned to The Netherlands. You cannot be abroad with an expired Passport.
A credit card can be very useful too. Especially when you are staying in a country with a different currency such as Dollars or Pounds. In Valencia this is not the case, but still a credit card could be helpful in some situations.
I believe this blog now covers the most important elements for when you are traveling abroad to study. Try to take care of those things long in advance, to be sure you’re not forgetting anything.
There’s nothing left for me, but to wish you a nice time abroad. Make amazing memories and enjoy your time there!