Visa granted, ready for an international study experience; what’s next…?
- Book an appointment with a doctor
Plan on visiting your doctor and have a check-up before you leave to ensure you are in good health. Bring along a copy of your medical records in case of an emergency overseas.
It is also vital that you know the host country’s immunization requirements and comply with them before your departure.
- Get a health insurance and make sure it works in Italy
Sickness and accidents can happen at any point and definitely without warning; it is always wise to be insured as you will avoid spending more money and being left out of budget.
It is important to have a reliable health and accident insurance policy while you are studying abroad. Kindly note that over the counter medication is quite expensive in Italy; if you can, bring your own painkillers, cough medicine, etc.
- Research Your Destination’s Local Customs, Culture, and People
Take some time to better familiarize yourself with your study abroad country. It would help to avoid those offensive foreigner-follies (such as skipping the cheek kiss for it is customary in Italian culture to greet your friends and family members with a kiss on each cheek)
If you decide to bring some of your own country’s foods with you, make sure you research what is not allowed to enter Italy to avoid disappointments at the airport.
Also, have your study documents with you even if you have a visa, in case you are asked to produce them.
- Learn the beautiful language
Knowing the most basic of phrases in the local language can make a world of difference in overcoming those first few days of adjustment. Download apps, before your make your way to Rome.
You do not need to be fluent in the language. Being able to say “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Please” and “Thank you” will put you up one place in the respect scale.
- RBS Cultural Day
Every semester, a cultural day is held in which students get to dress in their national regalia and bring cooked staple foods. Do not forget to carry some of your national attire/flag and food to share on the day; souvenirs and snacks are also allowed.
You can receive money via Western Union and MoneyGram in Italy, you will only need your passport to collect.
Make sure you have an international ATM/debit or credit card (visa/MasterCard etc.) before you come; also register for online/internet banking as it is the easiest way to manage your money while abroad.
Remember to alert your bank that you will be travelling abroad so that your card will be activated and also for it not to be blocked. However, carry some Euros with you as you may need to get a taxi from the airport and also just in case your international card fails to work.
- Staying in Touch with Home
Phone shops at the airport are a huge rip-off, so stay away from them. Wait till you get into town and go to any TIM, Vodafone, Tre or WIND shop; they will sell you a good-value SIM and help to set it up for you in your phone.
Just don’t get an international plan as these plans are unsustainable and way overpriced. You will find free Wi-Fi in most areas, including the airport; therefore, you can always contact family via voice applications like WhatsApp etc.
- Other things to consider
- Start packing
- Bring power adapters for your electronics
- Bring travel sized toiletries to get you through your first few days
- Check the weather and carry the appropriate clothes for that season
- Bring a few souvenirs of home to help with homesickness
- If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to bring extra pairs with you
- Lastly, Prepare Yourself Mentally
Studying abroad can be fun and a great experience, but it is important to realize that you are subject to the laws and customs of another country.
With different cultures and backgrounds meshing, it can often be difficult to know what to say and how to act without offending someone while abroad.
You will definitely encounter people with different concepts of time and personal space. Be ready to learn and observe these differences without being judgmental. Even if you do not observe certain religious or cultural events/rules/behaviours, respect the ways of your host culture.