Student accommodation is one important thing to consider while planning to study abroad. Just as it is important to focus on visa, admission, and travel expenses, ample consideration should also be given to accommodation. Accommodation availability will vary from country to country depending on your study destination, however, there are important things to note and useful tips to apply to make the journey easier.
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How to choose the right study abroad destination
Before you start thinking of and planning for accommodation, it is important to first choose a study abroad destination as this will in turn influence your accommodation choices. In some countries, the cost of living is on the high side. Additionally, the cost of living in various parts of the country will also differ and this will in turn affect the cost of accommodation. So, to properly plan for your accommodation as an aspiring international student, you must choose the right study abroad destination that fits you and your budget. Below are some tips to help you with this:
1. Choose your desired discipline
You have to conclude on the course you want to study before going on ahead to search for the school and country you want to study at. You can choose your desired discipline based on passion, or the demand the in the labor market. This is solely dependent on your personal preferences. As a postgraduate student, you can pick a discipline that is in line with what you studied during your undergraduate years.
2. Consider different Universities
After choosing a specific course of study, search for the various universities that offer the program you are seeking to study. To pick the best option that suits you, there are various things to consider. Some of them include:
- Curriculum and method of teaching: Check the school’s curriculum to know how robust it is and how it will help your academic and career goals. Also, consider the method of teaching before deciding on which university to choose.
- University ranking: If prominence means a lot to you, then you can check out the university’s ranking too before making a decision. University ranking sites like the QS world ranking can help with this.
- Affordability: As you check out the universities, also consider the school fees as this plays a huge role in your choice. Ask yourself questions like can I afford it? How much will it cost me? How will I be able to fund it? Etc.
3. Consider the availability of Scholarships
Many international students look out for scholarship opportunities to help with the cost of studying abroad. Before choosing your study abroad destination, look out for the availability of scholarships as they influence your choice and reduce cost.
4. Get the opinion of others
Before making a major decision like this, it is important to get the opinion of other people who have studied at the university you look forward to studying in. This will help you mentally prepare for what to look forward to. It will also help you in other aspects like budgeting, necessary documents to have, etc.
5 great tips for choosing the right accommodation for international students
Below are some helpful tips that will come in handy when choosing the right accommodation for international students:
1. Book early
It is important to start the search for suitable accommodation abroad as early as possible. While it is possible to apply for university-owned accommodation, you can also look for private accommodation options depending on your preference. Searching early means that you have access to different options to choose from. Additionally, if you plan to pair with other people, you may find better deals that will be more suitable. As soon as you get your offer letter which signifies that you have been accepted into a university, start looking for accommodation immediately. This will help you save cost, it will open you up to more options, and will give you ample time to plan for it.
Moreover, there are different types of student accommodation and they include:
- On-campus accommodation: This refers to the accommodation provided by the institution. When it comes to cost, they may seem less cheap but when it comes to comfortability, privacy, and luxury, they may not rank well. However, going for this accommodation gives to the advantage of meeting lots of people, learning from them and making new friends. It typically lasts for one academic year which means students will have to book again the following year.
- Private residences: Private residences have more flexibility in the sense that occupants get to choose the location and the room type. It is also not limited to students only. You can share the building with other categories of people like professionals. This type of accommodation is situated off-campus.
- Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA): This type of part is also flexible in the sense that students can choose their room types and the duration they want to rent it for. PBSAs are large apartment facilities that are specifically built for students.
2. Consider Location
Before settling for any accommodation, it is equally important you consider location. It is advisable to get accommodation that is within the same area as the school you are studying at. Also, there are important questions you need to ask yourself before settling for a particular location. These questions include:
- How close is it to your school?
- How accessible is the location?
- How close is it to important areas like shopping malls, the hospital, markets, etc.?
- How safe is it?
- How close is it to public transport like bus stops, or train stations?
- If I am running late, can I walk or cycle to my university?
- Do other students also live here?
These questions and more are some of the things you need to consider when deciding on the location for your accommodation.
3. Entertain Feedback and Opinions
While searching for accommodation as an international student, it is important you equally get the opinions and suggestions of other people, especially those who have gone ahead of you. Joining social media groups like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram groups can also be helpful. People share opportunities that you might find helpful and useful. You can ask questions and get answers from people who have gone through the same process as you have.
As an international student seeking to study abroad, you mustn’t do this in isolation. Network and connect with other people, you might even get people to pair with which will in turn reduce the cost for you. Additionally, your university will most likely have a social media group, Facebook or any other one. Leverage it and use it to get the necessary information you need.
4. Checkout the accommodation
Before making payment, it is important to check out the accommodation before proceeding to pay for it. If it will be impossible to check it out physically in person, have them send you pictures and videos of the place so that you can get a visual description of what the accommodation looks like. You can opt for the virtual tour option if you will not be present physically.
Additionally, take note of what is present and what is missing as this will help in your budgeting. Ask yourself questions like:
- Does it have a bed?
- Do I need to get a bookshelf?
- Do I need a desk and a chair?
- Is the lightning okay?
- How is the water supply?
- Do I need to get my curtains?
Take note of the things missing in the apartment and make plans on how to get them.
5. Get a contact
Before settling for accommodation as an international student, you must find out who the contact person is. Save their name and phone number and get in touch when necessary. You can also ask the person practical questions about the accommodation. Having a contact person is very important so that in the case of emergencies, you will not be stranded. Additionally, it is important to know the terms of your contract, the rules, and the regulations before finalizing the deal. It is also useful to know your rights so that you will not be taken advantage of. Know important details like:
- Do you pay in full or can you split payment?
- Do you need a guarantor?
- What happens if there are travel restrictions?
- How long will the accommodation last?
- Can you have a roommate?
Get to know all of these things before finalizing the agreement as it will save you a lot of stress.
Budgeting for student accommodation
As stated at the beginning of this article, it is important to properly budget for your student accommodation and make plans on how to sustain it so that you do not get stranded. When it comes to budgeting, some necessary factors to consider include:
- Cost of living: Research and find out the cost of living around the area of your school and your home. It will help you properly plan. You can do this by asking questions from other students who are staying in the same area and going to the same school.
- Funding: Who is funding your studies? Are you taking a student loan? Are you a scholarship or grant recipient? Are your parents/relatives your sponsors? If you have family sponsoring you, it will be easy to factor in the cost of accommodation. But if you are on a student loan and your loan only covers tuition, you have to look for a means to sponsor fund your accommodation.
- Discount opportunities: In other to save money as a student, you can jump on discount opportunities. Splitting your rent with a roommate will be helpful. Additionally, getting discounted products will also reduce the amount you will spend and allow you to save more.
- Get a job: Getting a job can make budgeting for your student accommodation easier. This is because you get paid, and you can use the money to pay your bills if you are the sole sponsor of your education.
However, it is important and advisable to spend wisely only on important things while you save/invest more.
Safety and Security Measures for International Students
As an international student living in another country, you must stay safe and adhere to all the rules at all times so that you do not get into trouble. Below are some tips that can help you:
- Ensure that you are alert at all times and you know what is going on around you. If you feel uneasy and uncomfortable at any point, leave the location immediately.
- Keep important things like valuable and important documents safe. It can be risky to look too flashy in an unknown place. Try as much as possible to blend in with the indigenes.
- Learn about the country, language, and way of life of the people before you eventually travel there. Know the surroundings, get familiar with the climate, know how the system works, and what is required of you. This information will come from the study abroad office but you can equally ask past students to prepare your mind ahead of time.
- Don’t forget to keep in contact with people. This is why it is important to make friends early. If you are staying with a family or a roommate, let them know where you are going. Update them on your location at all times, and do not go to unfamiliar places without proper directions.
In conclusion, the thought of studying abroad sounds exciting to international students. While it has its advantages, it should be noted that things will not just go smoothly as intentional effort needs to go into planning properly so that you can have the best experience.
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Looking forward to studying abroad? Enrolling in the top universities in the world can increase your chances with employers. Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive to study abroad due to the current economic crisis. But this shouldn’t limit you as there are other options you can explore to enhance your career.
MPower Finance and Prodigy Finance are some of the best student loan providers for international students. They also do not require any cosigner or collateral before application. At EdXtra Associates, we can help you with your loan application process. We also provide educational consultancy services for international students to help make your journey easier and faster. You can reach out to us, as we’d love to guide you through this journey.