This time of year is exciting for students. It’s the time when prestigious universities around the world open applications for the following school year. Academic capitals such as London, Boston, and Hong Kong are bustling with activity, although perhaps this year on-site tours of universities are discouraged.
University is like a coming of age for many youngsters. It might be your first time living away from home and prove that you are an adult who could manage your time and maybe finances. Choosing what course to take and where to study are among the major decisions you make that would define the rest of your life.
While you are preparing documents for your applications, take some time to also look into other concerns you will be faced with once you start university.
Availability of essential services
These would include hospitals and clinics, banks, and insurance. Most university areas would of course have these but try to map them out so you could plan ahead. Would your insurance cover the hospitals and clinics in that area? Do you need to open another bank account nearer your university for convenience? If you have special needs or a special medical condition, check out if these could be supported in the university.
International students need to look at these things more carefully. Some countries require specific types of insurances and financial arrangements. Make sure you go through these before deciding which university would best suit your plans, needs, and resources.
Second, you should look into what kinds of accommodations are available for students. Generally, you can choose between two kinds of housing. You can opt to live by yourself in a flat or a house or you can live with other students in a dormitory or a boarding house.
Prices range depending on its proximity to universities and city centers as well as the living standards in that particular part of the city. Usually, secure and safe areas have higher rents compared to those in the more dangerous parts of the city. So don’t just look at the prices. Look at the conditions around the accommodation. See, for example, if you are willing to sacrifice travel time so you could have a cheaper accommodation in a good community. It is always a good decision to put your safety first above all other factors.
The cost of living in different cities even in just one country could vary. That is why some students opt to live in a nearby city if their schedules are not too hectic. In many urban hubs, transportation from one city to another would not be difficult. For example, you could live in New Jersey while studying in New York. Or you could live in Graz if you don’t mind a two-hour train ride to Vienna. Trains and buses have regular and frequent schedules and you don’t have to be at the university for the entire day. However, it is the experience of living in a university town that is also appealing to students. The vibe is simply different.
It is a common complaint of locals that in university towns, rents shoot up, especially those that have a higher number of international students. However, there is also a positive effect of having a large student population in an area. There would also be affordable restaurants, cafes where students study, and entertainment targeting youngsters.
Opportunities for employment and internship
For students seeking financial freedom while studying, this would be crucial. See if there are establishments around that offer part-time jobs to students. In many countries, there are limits as to how many hours students could be employed, especially if they are foreigners. Many employment opportunities would be the manual kind — working as a waiter or a shop assistant. But if you would scout ahead, you might be able to find part-time jobs at the library or some secretarial work in firms.
For those who are already thinking of how they could advance their career, internships are like entry points. Although most of it is unpaid, the work environment would be in institutions that are aligned with your career direction. Not all academic centers have hubs for your target career path. For example, most International Non-Government Organizations would be based in New York, Geneva, and maybe London. Not many have headquarters in Hong Kong or Boston. Techies might also want to be near California, specifically Silicon Valley.
Starting university is exciting. Everyone is looking forward to building a good future. Although incoming university students would do well to take life lightly as it comes, it wouldn’t hurt to plan well. While we don’t know what the future has in store, it is still best to face it prepared.