Graduate school and doing a PhD overseas is something that we all dream of achieving one day. Usually schools have their placements in the list of top universities in the world. And if you manage to get into one of them, you have the license for celebrating a week or more. But the issue of being an international student is the multiple rules and documentation problems that you face. And this is without the financial burden (although if you are smart enough to grab a scholarship then it is not an issue).
For those who are going to the United States, the characters I-20 will get ingrained to your brain before much time has gone by after you start your application process. The I-20 is issued by your university and is the document that is proof that you are eligible for studying in the United States. Whichever country you pick always has some sort of legal document to show you F-1 or J-1 status as a student. This document must be protected even more than the Holy Grail. If it is lost or damaged beyond recognition then you will end up deported or in jail. Be prepared to take out a personal loan in Singapore to take care of the small fees that accumulate to a lot of money.
Making sure everything is in place
One thing that you must do until the day you leave to board the plane is to keep in touch with your admissions department of the respective university. Keep in touch with emails and phone calls (if possible) and always make sure that you are on the same page. Many international students end up stranded or worse because they did not get the relevant updates or did not make sure that the dates are correct.
Take cash with you
Whether you take out your personal loan or get some cash from someone you know, you will need to take cash in the currency of the country you are going to. And make sure to keep all the documentation of relevance with you when you are going as the security at gates and check-in areas might ask for it. Do not take your university’s brochure and the schedule for your semester as well. These are not going to impress anyone who has been standing all day to check people’s luggage.
Whether you are an avid fan of Hollywood or not, the culture shock will hit you and badly. For those who have not been abroad before this will amount to even a bigger shock sometimes. No matter where you are from, the culture and ways of a different country is psychologically affecting.