Top 8 Questions to Ask When Considering Studying Abroad

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So, you’re thinking about studying abroad? Great choice! Studying abroad will provide you with a sense of adventure, the opportunity to learn more about yourself and gain independence, explore new cultures and exciting cuisine, and the ability to travel. But before you study abroad, you should ask some questions to learn if studying abroad is the right move for you. Try to ask open-ended questions to get the most amount of information possible. An open-ended question prompts a conversation (just like the examples below!), whereas a close-ended question simply requires a yes/no answer.

Whether you’re attending an education fair like Study and Go Abroad, chatting with your counsellor, or doing some research yourself, these are the main questions you’ll want to ask.

1. Accommodations

Living in another country is exciting, but it can be intimidating trying to find a place to live when you’re not even in that country yet. Find out if the schools you’re interested in can help you out by asking these questions:

  • What kind of residence options are available for international students?
  • How can you guarantee a spot in residence?
  • How are residence preferences taken into consideration? Will you get to choose what type of residence you’ll be in?
  • What residence options, if any, extend to upper-year students as well?

If the schools don’t offer residence options for you, find out if they can help you with your living accommodations in other ways.

  • How will you know which student housing sites are reputable and reliable?
  • What resources does the school offer to help students understand rental leases and their rights as a renter?
  • Where are the student-friendly housing areas? Ex. consider the proximity to campus, grocery stores, and methods of transportation
  • Are there homestay options in this country that the school can help find? What does this process look like?

2. Cost of living

Your cost of living will depend on which country, type of program and its length, lifestyle, and type of school you choose. But ask these questions to find out if what you want is affordable:

  • What day-to-day expenses can you expect?
  • What is the cost of tuition and fees as an international student? Are these costs fixed or will they increase while you study?
  • What is the average cost of groceries?
  • If you plan on coming home for holidays, what is the cost of flights? Does the school offer or know of any transportation assistance or discounts?
  • Are there various forms of transportation around campus (ex. buses, trains, rideshare services) or are you planning on having a car?
  • If you choose to use your car to get to campus, what parking options are available and how much would it cost?
  • What is the average price of rent close to vs. further from campus? How much will utilities cost?
  • What does it cost to apply for a visa?
  • What kind of books and supplies is required for my program? Ex. Chemistry typically requires additional safety materials such as lab coats on top of textbooks
  • How much will your cell phone bill cost? Should you investigate buying a local plan to lessen those international calls you’ll be making to your family and friends back home?

3. Community

When you’re not in classes, you’ll be on campus and in the community. So, having a solid community foundation is the key to making friends, exploring the area, and having fun outside of class. How does the school create a sense of community?

  • What type of orientation activities is provided for international students? How can you get involved?
  • What types of clubs on campus are dedicated to Canadians/international students?
  • What kinds of organized events are available throughout the year?

4. Healthcare

When studying abroad, you’re going to be away from home for months on end. So, you want to make sure that you’re covered in case you get sick. Ask these questions to determine what you’ll need to prepare for your healthcare:

  • What kind of healthcare plan does the school provide? What is covered under these plans?
  • How does the country’s government provide healthcare assistance for international students?
  • Will you need to buy private insurance? How much could this cost?
  • If there is no healthcare offered by the school, what advice or assistance on private health insurance will be provided?
  • What kinds of scholarships are available to offset health insurance costs?

5. Working while abroad

A great way to help reduce your expenses for school is by picking up a job while you’re abroad.

  • What are the restrictions for international students working while studying?
  • How many hours can you legally work?
  • Do you need to get an additional/specific type of visa to be able to work in the country? How long will this process take?
  • Does the school offer on-campus employment for students? What types of positions are common and how can you apply?
  • How does the school offer assistance for students searching for jobs? Ex. resumé building, career centre, etc.

6. Qualifications/documentation

Once you know you want to apply to study abroad, you’ll have to figure out if you’ve got what you need to study in another country.

  • Will your secondary education qualify for admission? What grades do you need to get in?
  • What other admissions requirements will you need? Ex. any entrance or academic tests
  • What documents will you need to apply for a visa? Ex. visas, passport, birth certificate, references, etc.
  • Does the country require proof of necessary funds to apply as a student? If so, how much is needed?

7. Financial aid

Scholarships, awards, and bursaries are a great way to eliminate some of your school costs. But these opportunities may be more limited if you’re studying outside of your home country. Find out if you’ll have enough funding to be comfortable when studying.

  • What are the eligibility requirements for government funding?
  • What financial aid does the school offer specifically for international students? Canadians?
  • What requirements are needed to be eligible for bursaries and external funding?
  • What kinds of financial aid does the Canadian government offer for Canadians studying abroad? What is required to apply?
  • Have you checked out ScholarshipsCanada.com yet?
  • What documents will you need to apply for loans or a student line of credit?

8. Factors to consider when deciding where to study abroad

The world is at your fingertips! You’ll get to choose what country you’ll study in. There’s a lot of factors to consider when you’re trying to find the best place for you.

  • Rural vs. urban. Are you someone who likes the hustle and bustle of the city, or do you prefer the scenic, nature walks? How can your desired school accommodate your preference?
  • Language. Will you be able to communicate in this country? Are there any language assistance programs to help you become fluent?
  • Culture. Are there specific cultures that resonate with you? Do you enjoy certain cuisines?
  • Accessibility of transportation. Is it easy to travel within the town? Are there airports nearby for when you want to go home?
  • Entertainment. Are there things to do outside of school? Can you go shopping? To a bar? See a concert? Whatever you like doing, check to see if it’s available where you want to study
  • Sports and clubs. Do you like playing soccer or doing creative writing? Are your interests available on campus? Is there the opportunity for you to create a club if one doesn’t exist already?

There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering studying in another country, but these questions will help guide you in making the best choice possible. Start your study abroad adventure today by discovering all the information you’ll need to know.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. Salut,
    Je suis etudiant finissant L3 en Géographie a l’université d’État d’Haïti.
    J’aimerais bien continuer mes études au canada.
    J’ai pas de gros moyen. J’aimerais bien m’inscrire dans une université moins exigeant économiquement.
    Aidez-moi je vous en prie.

    Dorvil Mikerly

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