8 Unexpected Costs of Studying Abroad (& How to Handle Them)

8 Unexpected Costs of Studying Abroad: Studying abroad can be incredibly rewarding, but it comes with its own unique set of challenges and additional expenses. If you aren’t prepared, these unexpected costs may sneak up on you and end up leaving you financially strapped as the semester continues. 

For this reason, it’s important to take note of the unexpected costs that studying abroad entails in order to prepare yourself ahead of time. This guide on the 8 unexpected costs of studying abroad will help you plan accordingly so that you can still have a great semester while also staying within your budget!

8 Unexpected Costs of Studying Abroad (& How to Handle Them)

1) Packing

Packing for your study abroad experience is one of the most exciting parts of the process! It’s also probably one of the most difficult. 

There are many factors that need to be considered when deciding what clothes, electronics, and toiletries you’ll bring with you. These decisions will depend on where you’re going, how long you’ll be away for, and what type of climate it is there.

Below are some general guidelines to help make packing less stressful:

-Research what time of year it is where you’re going – this will let you know if clothes should be light or heavy. 

If you’re going in the summer, pack shorts, T-shirts, bathing suits; if winter, pack pants, sweaters, and gloves.

-Bring an extra set of everything in case anything gets lost or stolen during your trip. Keep all items together in a single bag so they can easily be found later.

-Pack at least two pairs of sturdy shoes—one casual pair and one dressier pair. 

Bring a small flashlight so you can see in dark places like hallways or hotels at night without having to use a large lamp that might wake other people up. Also, pack all necessary chargers (for phone/laptop/camera).

Also Read: 10 Secrets to a Successful Budget

2) Visas

Visas are a long and complicated process. Depending on where you’re going, the process could take months, so it’s important to plan ahead and start early. The first step is finding out if you need one. 

If you’re going anywhere outside the Schengen Area (e.g., US), then you will definitely need one. You’ll also need an I-20 form from your university stating that you’re enrolled as an international student. 

All visas have their own application process, which can vary in cost depending on the country. In addition, many countries require proof of a round-trip ticket before granting approval for entry into their borders. 

It’s best to check with your local embassy or consulate for more information about visa requirements specific to your destination country before heading abroad.

Also read – 8 Unexpected Costs of Studying Abroad (& How to Handle Them)

3) Health insurance

Health insurance can be a real pain when you are abroad. You’re used to health insurance being included in your tuition or being deducted from your paycheck, but that doesn’t happen when you’re not in the country. 

In order to be covered for health care abroad, you’ll need international student health insurance coverage. The good news is that there are many different options out there and some plans are even designed specifically for students studying abroad. 

These include travel insurance policies that cover trip cancellation, lost baggage, emergency medical evacuation, and more. They also provide language assistance and help with customs documentation at ports of entry. 

There’s no right answer as to which policy is best- it all depends on what your needs are and how much protection you want to while away from home.

4) School supplies

A back-to-school shopping list is typically filled with notebooks, pens, pencils, and folders. But if you are going abroad for college or university, you also need to purchase items such as an adapter for your electronics and a voltage converter. 

Be aware that while some schools provide these items in the dorm room, others do not–so it’s important to pack them! 

Additionally, keep in mind that if you’re going somewhere with limited access to the internet or social media networks like Facebook and Instagram (e.g. China), it might be a good idea to buy an international data plan before leaving home.

5) Checklist – Before you go!

  1. Take time to research the country you’ll be visiting and learn what they need from you in order to enter their borders legally.
  2. Plan your finances wisely- exchange rates can vary greatly between countries, so it’s important that you know where your money will go before leaving your home country.
  3. Avoid transferring more money than necessary abroad by having a budget set ahead of time and sticking to it!
  4. Sign up for mobile phone plans with an international carrier before going abroad; this will allow you to call or text in case of emergency without worrying about high roaming fees or getting left without a way to contact someone back home.

6) First couple weeks in the country

1. Living Expenses- This is the most significant cost you are likely to experience as a study abroad student, and it can be hard to anticipate how much money you will need while you’re in another country.

Remember that your living expenses will include rent, groceries, utilities (electricity, water), transportation costs and any other costs associated with basic day-to-day living like laundry or eating out. 

Depending on where you go and how long you stay, your living expenses could vary widely. For example, if you choose to live with roommates, expect housing to account for at least 50% of your monthly living budget. 

In Thailand, depending on whether you share an apartment or live alone in a house, housing could account for anywhere from 30% – 60% of your total monthly budget.

If possible, save up some extra cash before leaving so that you have at least 3 months worth of living expenses saved up when it comes time to pay them. It’s also helpful if there are people back home who might offer some support by sending over funds every month if needed.

2. Language Learning- It’s not always easy learning about local customs and habits in a new culture when everyone speaks a different language than what you’re used to speaking back home!

7) Learning about culture and history

Cultural immersion is one of the best parts of studying abroad. Whether you’re living with a host family, staying in an Airbnb, or taking language classes, there are many ways to get out and explore your new city.

Before you go off on your own though, here are some things you should know:

  1.  You could be walking around carrying a ton of cash for the entire semester. Keep this in mind when deciding what size purse or wallet to bring with you on your trip.
  2. You might need to pay for personal items that are not covered under your student insurance like contact lenses or glasses (since they may not be covered overseas). 
  3. The cost of food will vary depending on where you study abroad so if you don’t want to eat fast food all day long it’s worth doing some research ahead of time about where grocery stores are located.
  4. There can also be hidden fees from ATM withdrawals in other countries which can add up over time if you’re not careful about how much money you withdraw each time.
  5. Tax forms will often differ depending on where your study abroad program is located, so make sure that whoever handles taxes at home knows about your plans before the end of the year! 
  6. Finally, prices for goods and services at home will often seem more expensive when viewed against foreign currencies so it’s always worth checking online currency converters before making any major purchases while away from home.

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