Ultimate Guide To Travelling Overseas During Uni

This guide is the perfect resource for university students who want to do some travelling while they are studying at uni. So whether you're a new or experienced traveller, this guide is loaded full of tips and tricks for choosing and making the most out of an experience. 

The Ultimate Guide to Travelling Overseas During University is full of insights and advice based on decades of experience.

Read this step by step guide to start your student travel journey, or to save yourself from the heartache of mistakes and missteps that can come from doing it alone.

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There are many types of travel experiences that you can have whilst studying at university. 

  • Group tours, like Contiki or Intrepid
  • Semester exchanges
  • Short programs at universities overseas
  • Internships
  • Study tours
  • Bus tours (or road trips)
  • Gap years
  • Language Programs
  • Service Learning (Volunteering)
  • Clinical and Practical Placements
  • Research
  • Experiential and skill development programs (e.g. conferences, leadership or career development options)
  • Backpacking

There are both "pure" travel experiences (like group tours or backpacking) as well as overseas study opportunities, like exchange or study tours.

An advantage of pure travel experiences is that you have plenty of flexibility to design your own experiences.

An advantage of overseas study experiences is that in many cases they can be counted for academic credit towards your degree at home. Alternatively, they might be used towards completing other degree requirements (like capstone projects, theses or practical requirements).

Many students also travel abroad to educational, but not-for-credit experiences (e.g. language programs or volunteering).

All travel experiences involve some costs or fees (logistics costs, flights, accommodation, program or tour fees etc).

For overseas study, many scholarships and loan schemes are available to assist with these costs.

Throughout this article we’ll use the terms “studying overseas” and “study abroad”interchangeably.

Travelling during university is a life-changing experience. Talk to any student that's done it and you’ll hear nearly the same answers like, “This was the best decision I’ve ever made!”, and “This changed my life!” Still not convinced? Here’s the top 7 reasons why every student needs to go travelling during their degree!

1. It will equip you with skills you’ll use in life and your career

There has been extensive research on the skills that participants get out of being in a foreign environment.

Students become more flexible, adaptable, creative, resilient and better at things like problem solving, communication and teamwork.

Whilst being abroad for a longer period (like a semester exchange) has greater impact, even short experiences of just a few weeks can have a meaningful impact that lasts throughout your entire life.

If you want detailed information on the benefits of studying overseas, read ‘The Outcomes of Learning Abroad Programs’ by Davina Potts here.

2. You will meet like-minded people you will call friends

The bonds you form with the people you meet while travelling overseas is irreplaceable. While you may have great friends at home, there is just something about forming friendships around shared experiences and that is priceless.

Many students who have travelled overseas still consider the friends they met while overseas some of their closest friends. Some people even find their life partner whilst studying overseas! Read the love story of Adam who met his soulmate, Chelsea while studying overseas in the very first week!

3. It will build your confidence

If you have never travelled overseas, you will learn very quickly that travel can put you in some uncomfortable situations.

Things like navigating a new city for the first time by yourself, trying to buy a cup of coffee in a city that speaks very little English, or initiating a conversation with the person sitting next to you in class.

These situations that seem uncomfortable at first will eventually become natural as you learn to adapt to your surroundings.

As a result, you’ll become more confident and resilient the more time passes.

4. It will make you stand out in the crowd (jobs)

According to the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, 24% of youths and adults complete a Bachelor Degree or above, up from 18 per cent a decade ago.

More and more Australians are pursuing a university degree, which also means an increase in competition in the job market.

Businesses are increasingly prioritising “soft skills” over “technical knowledge” in many discipline areas.

To this end, having travel and study abroad experience on your resume is a great way to stand out from the crowd of other graduates.

5. You will come back with new found motivation

Extensive research shows that those who’ve travelled abroad are more likely to be lifelong learners and more engaged with their studies (Malmgren and Galvin, 2008).

It’s also amazing what a change in environment can do for your motivation. The discussions you will have while travelling with peers from other parts of the world will open your eyes to new ideas that classes at your home university just can’t give you.

As a result, you will come back seeing things through a different lens. This is a massive advantage when it comes to your degree: you will have a point of comparison that you can bring into your assignments, discussions and approaches.

6. It will enhance your creativity

Everywhere you go in the world, problems are approached and solved in different ways.

Once you have exposure to the varied ways in which countries encourage healthy lifestyles in cities, approach meal times or solve social problems, you can’t “unlearn” that knowledge!

Your ability to be creative will forever be enhanced!

7. It will open doors of opportunities you never knew existed

Travelling overseas is like discovering new ice cream flavours you had never even imagined! Deciding on a career can be very daunting. Travelling opens your eyes to opportunities you never knew existed.

Even if you’re set on a career path to take after university, travelling will expand your network to global opportunities that may not be available to you if you had just stayed at home.

Want to hear from past students who believe that
travelling has changed their lives?

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Hear from students who took an AIM Overseas tour here
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Why Consider Overseas Study?

Overseas study is a specific type of travel.

When you study overseas, not only are you exploring a new country and culture, but you're also immersing yourself in a new educational environment.

This has some serious benefits!
Universities have programs that allow you to get credit, and FUNDING like scholarships, for travelling.

By studying overseas, not only will you experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, make life-long friends, learn more about yourself, you’ll increase your employability!

Even though your future career might not have been the motivator for signing up, your future-self will thank you for it and this chapter will show you why.

In 2016, 41% of 19-year-olds were enrolled in higher education, which was more than double the rate in 1989 (Grattan Institute, 2018). On top of this, the expected job growth fell short of the number of people who actually needed jobs. With more young Australians graduating from degrees, the job market gets increasingly competitive by the day. Research from the Centre of Future Work reveals that in 2018, only 73% of recent graduates found full-time work. Further to this, 1 in 5 graduates reveal that they are underemployed, meaning they are not working in their desired capacity.

This unfortunately means that with so many graduates out there now, employers are spoilt for choice and they can now afford to be very picky. Because this is the case, it’s now not enough to just graduate with your degree. You will need to find a way to set yourself apart from the other 20 graduates that you’ll be up against who are hungry for the same job as you.

One of the best ways to give yourself an edge is with an overseas study experience. An Erasmus study (2012-2013) found 64% of employers consider a study abroad experience important when recruiting for a position. This is because these employers value and recognise the skills gained when studying abroad such as tolerance, communication, open- mindness, creativity, initiative, the ability to take on responsibility and being culturally aware.

Even short term study abroad opportunities can have a positive impact on your employability. A study conducted by IEAA found that of 800 students who had undertaken a short term experience:

  •  83% developed skills to support their current and future professional role 
  •  63% said it had a positive impact on their long-term career prospects 
  • 53% said it helped them obtain their first job in their field of study

Now, after this, do you still think studying abroad is just about seeing the world and making friends? Watch this to find out how studying overseas can help you get the job you want, not just any old job!

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Getting Started with Overseas Study

By studying overseas, not only will you experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, make life-long friends, learn more about yourself, you’ll increase your employability!

Even though your future career might not have been the motivator for signing up, your future-self will thank you for it and this chapter will show you why.

Your University International Office

Did you know that your university has a dedicated office for students who want to study overseas? It’s called something different at each Australian university, but is commonly an International Office, or a Global Learning Office. If you Google search ‘[your university] international office’, you’ll find your Australian university International Office webpage.

This team is dedicated to supporting students who are wanting to have an overseas study experience, and often also supports international students who want to study at an Australian university.

Each International Office is different but often, you can book in appointments to speak to an advisor to talk about your options if you’re interested in an overseas study experience. Their website often has plenty of information about the options you might have, blogs of past student experiences, and information of the application process.

Your University Exchange Fair

This is organised by your University international office and usually runs at least once per year, usually around April or August (depending on the university). It’s a great way to see some of the study abroad opportunities that are available to you, and to get to speak with other students who have returned from their study abroad trip and hear about their experience. Take the time to ask them questions because chances are that they will have had the same questions too and will be able to give you the answer from their first-hand experience. You’ll also be able to speak with representatives of visiting university or third-party provider partners to get your questions and concerns answered on the spot!

Study Overseas LIVE Show

Want to hear from the study overseas experts? Check out AIM Overseas' Study Overseas LIVE show, which was created to help answer your questions at every step of the journey to study abroad. The topics range from ‘Travelling Overseas Solo’, to ‘Budgeting while you’re Abroad’, to ‘Taking Care of your Mental Health while Studying Overseas’. The episodes are around 50 minutes long, and will give you advice, tips and actionable steps to take surrounding each topic.

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Backpacking and Independent Travel vs Studying Overseas

You might be in the situation where you’re tossing up whether you want to study overseas or whether you want to do your own backpacking or independent travel during your university break.

Both options are brilliant opportunities to see the world and experience new cultures and meet new people, so it can be hard to decide between the two. This chapter will showcase the pro’s and con’s for backpacking and independent travel to help you choose between the two.

As We Travel, loosely describes backpacking as an “independent, often international, low- budget way of travelling”. While there are different types of backpacking, the general gist is that you will visit multiple countries and stay in tents, or hostels with no other possessions except your trusty backpack, as opposed to staying in hotels with your suitcase.

So why is backpacking so great? Besides the positive that you’ll get super fit from lugging your backpack around, you’ll find that you’ll have a sense of freedom and flexibility that you’ve never experienced before. You’ll be in control of making all of the decisions and you’ll get to do what you want, when you want. This might be the one time in your life where you can truly live in the moment. Backpacking is an amazing way to really experience the country you visit and see more than just the tourist hot spots.

However, this also comes with aspects that you might not enjoy as much like dealing with hostel dorms, having to live out of a backpack and having to deal with the unexpected. While you can easily deal with these inconveniences, your biggest concern will be around safety.

Hostel World has 5 golden rules to stick to while backpacking to stay out of trouble. Simply put, backpacking will be rewarding and life-changing, but it will certainly be a challenge.

While independent travel is something that undoubtedly provides you with an invaluable life experience, a study abroad experience actually includes these things and and more! Having a study abroad experience under your belt is something that employers look upon highly, and will get you ahead in future employment opportunities. You can find more about that in Chapter 2 ‘The Career Benefits of Overseas Study’ and Chapter 14 ‘Using Overseas Study to Get your Dream Job’. Not only does studying abroad have all of the personal benefits that
backpacking provides like improved confidence, resilience, problem solving and communication skills but you’ll be developing your career and giving your resume a boost.

By studying overseas, you will get to experience the education system of another country, and learn about topics from people who have actually experienced it happening, such as learning about the Berlin Wall from a lecturer who was there when it collapsed, and learning
French from a native speaker in France.

While you have to fund your own independent travels, a study abroad experience often means that you are eligible to get government funding to help cover the cost of your experience. There are also hundreds of scholarships available to students, so it means that
you have more money in your pocket to explore whilst you are overseas. Find out more about all of the funding opportunities you have in Chapter 9, ‘Funding Your Overseas Study Experience’.

If you’ve always been a bit of a free bird and you’re quite confident, it sounds like backpacking might be for you! However, if you’re looking to expand your world views with a little bit more structure and support behind you, studying overseas should be your choice. Then again, why limit yourself? Do both! Studying abroad is truly a once in a lifetime experience that you just can’t experience unless you are currently studying at university. Backpacking is not limited by your age or by your life situation. How about organising a study overseas experience while you’re at university, then save backpacking until after university? Sounds like a good plan to us!

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Choosing a Travel Experience

At university there are so many opportunities to travel overseas - from tours to exchange to backpacking. But what do these all mean? Let’s break it down and go into more detail with pro’s and con’s for the different options

GROUP TOURS (LIKE CONTIKI)

Group tours, like those organised by Contiki and Intrepid, are very popular with university students for a good reason. They allow you to cover a large amount of ground, in a short period of time, whilst having almost no logistics to organise yourself.

Group tours has some advantages over other travel types. They:

  • Are easy to organise
  • Visit the "highlight" spots
  • Don't require any day to day planning - just climb on the bus
  • Are an easy way to meet people

Group programs are a good "starting point" for many first time travellers - offering the security of travelling in a group with a professional guide. However, for more experienced travellers, or those people who are independently minded, they can be restrictive and expensive compared to backpacking.

BACKPACKING

Backpacking is one of the least expensive, though most logistically intensive, ways of travelling.

It it literally the process of travelling, while living "out of a backpack". You carry all of your gear with you as you move between different destinations.

Backpacking involves choosing one or more destinations you want to visit, then planning your own adventure there. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to spend as little or as much time as you want in certain places, as well as to choose your own level of "luxury".

Backpacking allows you to follow your nose to unusual, off-the-beaten-track destinations.

The downside of backpacking is that you need to do all of the research and planning yourself. If you love meeting new people, the daily change of backpacking can be a real buzz, though it can be lonely out there if you're not backpacking with someone else.

SEMESTER EXCHANGE

These are called ‘exchanges’ because students from Australia directly swap with students from the host university. This way, you will continue to pay fees as normal to your Australian university, as the other exchange student who ‘fills’ your place’ continues to pay fees to their university.

There’s no denying that exchanges are more challenging. They are more time consuming to organise as you’ll have to think about what to do with your current job or your current living situation. There will be extensive applications, visas and passport paperwork and you’ll often have more expenses out of pocket due to the length of time.

Don’t let these things deter you from a semester exchange as it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do! You’ll get a more in-depth cultural understanding about the country you’re in, you’ll create deeper relationships and networks with your teachers and peers, and you’ll have more opportunity to travel and to participate in student activities at the host university. Research conducted shows that when it comes to study abroad, the longer the program duration, the more impact it will have on you professionally and personally (Dwyer, 2004).

SHORT TERM PROGRAMS

These programs typically run from 3-6 weeks during the Australian uni break times (summer and winter) and can be organised by your university or more commonly, the university uses third party providers such as CIS Australia and IES Abroad. These providers are often approved by your university and may allow you to apply for credit points, which can count towards one full course subject in your degree (depending on your university).


Short term programs might make as much impact as an exchange does, but it’s been proven that short term programs still have incredible benefits, as you can still get out of your comfort zone and experience the world, while learning new things and can even improve your job prospects (The Pie News, 2019).


Short term programs are a fantastic option for those who want to dip their toes into the world of studying overseas, without the long term commitment, and lengthy organisation of an exchange. Many short term programs are offered as a package deal, where your accommodation, tuition fee, and sometimes food and cultural activities are often included in the price.


Not all degrees have flexible course structures that allow students to do a full semester overseas, and this is where short term programs can help, as you can do one subject in your summer or winter break and tick off another subject towards your degree.

STUDY TOURS

These are also known as faculty-led programs because they are organised by an academic in your faculty as a part of your degree. A study tour involves a group of students going overseas for a study course, sometimes with the Australian professor but the distinction is that they are still doing an Australian course, it just takes place overseas. You can often find out what study tours your university is running on their website, or by visiting your university’s International Office.

INTERNATIONAL INTERNSHIPS

These are specialised programs that are arranged with overseas institutions by your university to prepare students for the international job market. They can run from a few months to a year and aren’t offered at every university or in every faculty.

International internships give you an opportunity to get real-world work experience, working on a real-life project for a company overseas. They look great on a resume and allow you to build your professional network - definitely a good move for the future!

INTERNATIONAL CLINICAL PLACEMENTS

These are experiences that are often only relevant to certain faculties such as health and medical students, and instead of undertaking your clinical placement in Australia, you take this placement overseas.

VOLUNTEERING

Volunteering programs, also called "Volun-tourism" has exploded in the past decade. You can now volunteer all over the world.

Most professional "volunteering" organisations organise not only your volunteering experience (whether it's looking after sea turtles or building houses in poor neighbourhoods) but also the logistics of your stay. That includes things like accommodation and cultural activities.

The benefit of volunteering is that you get to contribute to a valuable project and make a difference, all whilst immersing yourself in another country and culture.

Choose your volunteering organisation carefully - there are so many these days and they are not all built the same. Choose one who's projects genuinely contribute to a local community, and preferably one that is not-for-profit or that puts some of their own funds into the project you are undertaking.

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Convincing Your Parents Travelling Overseas is A Good Idea

For a mum and dad, their children are their everything! So you can’t blame them when your parents stress and worry about your health and safety. But if studying or travelling overseas is your dream and you’re nervous about starting the conversation with them then this chapter will help you know what to do to help win them over.

First of all, avoid diving straight into a conversation with your parents about your travel aspirations without a plan. That would be like diving into a shark tank covered in fish guts!

You need to take the time to do a situation assessment. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity so think about why your parents would say no. Are they worried about your safety? Do they think you’re not mature enough? Do they think it is too expensive? Or are they worried you might move there permanently?

Start by doing some of your own research into the country or city you’d like to visit. It’s also a good idea to note down the country’s emergency numbers and draft out an insurance plan for yourself and what vaccinations you are planning to get so your parents can see how prepared and proactive you are.

If it’s a lack of maturity that’s on your parents mind, you can prove yourself by showing some initiative at home first. Show them you can look after yourself properly by taking control of your meals, and your laundry.

Expense is a major concern for more parents, but jump down to Funding Your Overseas Travel Experience part of this guide and you can see how it can be extremely manageable. In addition to that, research how expensive the country is in relation to Australia, what your major costs will be and draft out how you envision you will cover that cost. Consider getting a job or picking up extra shifts at work to show initiative and determination to your parents.

Before you start to present this idea to your parents, it’s important to choose the right time and the right way to approach this. It may be while you are sitting down at dinner, or on the weekend, it may be a powerpoint presentation, a letter written to them. It’s always a good way to start off by explaining why you’re passionate about this and how you foresee this experience benefiting you. Reassure them you are going to learn so much in another country and come back with a differing perspective!

Present to them the research you have done, the safety precautions you will take, your financial plan and take their thoughts, worries and opinions seriously, don’t brush them off! Remember, if you need help convincing them on the benefits, go back to the Top 7 Reasons to Travel Overseas Guide! Highlight the fact that their support is really important to you and that you would regret not taking this amazing opportunity while you can.

Keep in mind that the conversation may not go your way after first discussions and that is okay! It may be frustrating, but this may take more than one conversation. If travelling overseas is your dream, then continue to pursue the conversation and your determination and passion will also help convince your parents that this isn’t a passing idea for you: you want this!

Lastly, just because your parents have said yes doesn’t mean their worries have gone away. Keep in mind that this is scary for them so get them involved in the planning of your trip so they get excited about it too!

Are they still concerned? Send them The Global Society’s Parent Booklet. This guide was put together specifically for parents who want to get a better idea of the process their child will undertake in preparing for, and taking part in an overseas study experience.

Need a more indepth game plan?

Watch the Study Overseas LIVE episode 6

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How to Convince Your Parents That Travelling Abroad is a Great Idea
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Travelling with Friends vs Traveling Solo

Travelling with friends. We’ve all done it, or at least talked about it!

We’ve set our eyes on a destination and immediately texted our friend that template question, “Hey, do you want to go to London with me next year?” For some the response may be a resounding, “Yes I’ve had my eyes set on that too!”. But others have a burning desire to experience something well beyond your comfort zone and travel solo.

If you’re somewhat on the fence about whether you should travel with friends or travel solo, this is the chapter for you! Without a doubt, there are huge personal benefits to travelling overseas with a friend. Not only will it ease those inevitable nerves of embarking on a new experience in a different country, but it can also be safer and offer a sense of security to be able to have someone to lean on if difficult times strike while overseas. In this chapter, we’ll highlight the benefits of both travelling with a friend, and travelling solo.

TRAVELLING WITH A FRIEND

Your budget will definitely thank you if you’re travelling with a friend. You’ll be able to split your taxi costs, your meals and even your accommodation when you’re travelling with someone else. So if you’re on a tight budget, this will offer you some flexibility so that you can splash your cash on other fun things while you’re abroad.

Travelling with a friend will often take the pressure off in organising every detail, every day. Did you know that the average adult makes around 35,000 decisions a day (Psychology Today, 2018). Sometimes it’s nice for someone else to make the decisions for you, even if it’s something small like what train you’re catching next, or what you’re going to have for dinner.

Having someone you know in a strange country makes everything less intimidating like navigating through busy airports and even busier cities. You’ll find that when travelling, you’ll run into many problems and although you most certainly will be able to work through them by yourself, having a friend with you can often mean that your problem will get resolved more efficiently and quickly.

Above all else, travelling with a friend can offer an extra layer of sense of security compared to when you’re travelling solo. It’s just easier to have someone to watch your bag while you go to the bathroom, or to remind you that you accidentally put your phone in your back pocket again!

Best of all, you’ll get to share memories and laugh about the incredible moments you’ve
experienced as travel buddies beyond your trip! Everyone hates that last day overseas when they know they’re about to board a long-haul flight back home to get back to reality. Flying with a friend makes this experience that whole lot easier.

Travelling with a friend may seem like the most comfortable option but the personal benefits of travelling solo may surprise you. If you’re someone who has had their eyes set on a destination for a while and your friends just havent had the time or the money to book that flight ticket with you, don't wait for them. Do it on your own!

TRAVELLING SOLO

One of the best things about travelling solo is that you get to be selfish with what you want to do, how you spend your time and what you want to spend your money on! You could spend hours in an art gallery, take the morning off to trek a mountain without anyone offering another suggestion. Some people think that travelling solo is lonely, but it’s completely liberating! You don’t have to answer to anyone, explain yourself to anyone or justify how you want to spend your money. This is your opportunity to get to really know yourself. Whatever the outcome might be, the experience will be rewarding. You’ll find that you’ll come home with a sense of independence that you’ve never experienced.

When travelling solo, you’ll find that you’ll be even more social than if you’re travelling with friends. You’ll meet such interesting people from all walks of life that you wouldn’t be able to meet in your home town. You’ll be able to hear different perspectives and learn about different cultures.

“We are social animals. We crave contact with others for support, wellbeing and entertainment.”

-Katherine Diggory, Explore Life 2018

For tips on how to travel solo, watch the Study Overseas LIVE show episode below:

Read this Travelling Solo Guide, which is packed full of tips and tricks on how you can enjoy your next solo adventure.

If you’re still undecided, you may regret travelling with a friend but you’ll never regret the personal benefits that come with travelling solo. Don’t look back on your trip with regret that you didn't get to hike Machu Picchu because your friend was tired or miss out on that chocolate crepe under the eiffel tower because your friend had organised dinner. Your travel is an investment financially, but also personally - consider what you hope to gain personally before making this incredible decision. Consider this above all else: why not do both?! A study overseas experience is the best way to get a balance of travelling solo and travelling with friends!

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Funding Your Overseas Travel Experience

One of the biggest barriers to travelling overseas is the financial commitment.

With full transparency, travelling overseas does cost a lot of money but you have to think of it as an investment for your personal and professional growth. You really can’t afford not to travel overseas when weighing up all of the benefit!

Being able to afford to travel overseas comes down to two things: funding your trip and being smart about budgeting and we’ll be deep diving into both of these in this chapter.

Let's start by talking about the advantage of undertaking overseas educational tours as a powerful way to get funding to travel abroad.

Did you know that you actually have access to thousands that will help fund your overseas study program? If you think studying overseas is unachievable because of the financial cost, think again! There are many ways to fund it, without pouring thousands of your own dollars into it and we’ve outlined them below:

OS-HELP LOAN

The OS-HELP loan was created by the Australian Government to help students do some of their study abroad. It’s for students who are currently enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported place. Once your university has approved and processed your application, they deposit the funds into your selected bank account. You can then use this amount to pay for your program fee, flights, spending money, and anything else you can think of!

The amount you can borrow changes each year. For reference, in July 2019, the amount you can borrow was:

- $6,791 (if you do not study in Asia); or
- $8,149 if you study in Asia; PLUS an extra $1,085 if you do Asian language study in preparation for study in Asia.

Make sure you read the requirements of eligibility for the OS-HELP. You can find these by googling 'OS-HELP' and (your Aus university). This should lead you to your university page where you will find more information about eligibility, how to apply and the processing times.

Want more info? Visit the Study Assist website, or watch this video, What is the OS-HELP Loan and How Can It Help You As a Student?

NEW COLOMBO PLAN

If you’re after some extra funding, and you’re interested in studying in Asia then you’ll hit the jackpot with help from the New Colombo Plan (NCP). The NCP is an initiative by the Australian Government that supports Australian students to undertake study and internships in the Indo Pacific region.

There are two key program funding elements. One is the NCP Mobility Program, which provides grants to universities for both short and longer term study, internships, mentorships, practicums and research. The grants often range from $1,000 - $7,000,
depending on your university and the type of your overseas study experience. The other is the NCP Scholarship, which is a prestigious and competitive program that individually selects students to receive a scholarship up to $67,000 for up to one academic year of study or internships and six months for mentorships. If you want help preparing your application for
your New Colombo Plan Scholarship? Give yourself the best chance by watching this video.

Hear from these student’s who received the New Colombo Plan Scholarship and how it’s impacted their career.

SCHOLARSHIPS FROM YOUR HOME UNIVERSITY

If you haven't yet looked into scholarships available at your home university, now is the best time to do so! Some universities also give out Travel Grants, which range from $500-$2000 that you can put towards a program. To find out if any travel grants are available to you, get in touch with your university’s International Office.

Something else you can consider is getting in touch with your academic faculty. They might have a budget set aside for specific projects or student scholarships. We have heard success stories from students who have received a scholarship by writing to their Head of Faculty. Make sure to explain the opportunity and how it will benefit you to make a case.

Being proactive and taking the initiative to write letters and proposals can reward you with great results!

FUNDRAISING

This one may have slipped your mind, but fundraising can be a fantastic way to fund your experience! We have seen lots of examples of how this can be effective. At the end of the day, you don't need many donations of, say 5x $50 make a huge difference! The key? Plan ahead, think win-win, and follow up. Don’t forget about the online crowdsourcing platforms you can use now too like GoFundMe.

WORKING TO SAVE UP

If you have a casual job at the moment, ask your boss if you can pick up some extra shifts. It’s also a fantastic idea to get an additional savings account just for your trip and put a certain amount in each pay. That way, you can make sure you’re putting money aside each week/fortnight/month towards your experience!

If you’re not currently employed, perhaps see if there is any casual work that you can pick up. Even if it’s a babysitting job once a week, or a bar job on Saturday’s could help you put some extra money towards your trip.

[AIM Overseas - Funding your Overseas Study Experience Infographic OR Guide]

Watch the full ‘7 Ways to Fund your Overseas Study Adventure’ with the Study Overseas LIVE show:

BUDGETING

Now that you know you have access to funding for your overseas study adventure, the financial aspect doesn’t end there because you will need to make sure that your money actually lasts. After all, you don’t want to be missing out on some fun activities or living off noodles for every meal in the last month because you ran out of money in the first month of
your adventure!

First things first with budgeting, you need to break down the costs, starting with the largest expenses first like flights and accommodation, then work your way down to smaller costs like textbooks. The best way to do this is with a budget spreadsheet. Luckily, there’s a template that’s already been put together just for you! You can download it here [LINK FOR BUDGET PLANNER], and all you have to do is fill in your costs, and it automatically works out how
much you have to work with.

From there, you can work out a rough daily budget. While you are not going to spend exactly the same amount every day, a budgeted ‘daily expense’ gives you an idea of how your finances should be spent over the time of your travel. Some days you may only need to pay for rent and food, other days you may be paying for a whole lot more. When you are creating your budget, it’s important to think realistically and make informed decisions on how long you can actually afford to go for, where you can travel to, how you will be living once you are over there and the few months before you go over to your host country.

The most important thing to remember is that overspending can happen, and that’s okay because emergencies happen, and spontaneous weekend trips happen! To prepare for this, it’s a great idea to have at least a thousand dollars that you haven’t allocated in your budget, but that you can access. After all, you will meet people and want to travel with them, or find some really cool experience that you simply MUST do, or you may need it for emergency funds whether that be an actual emergency.

Watch the full Study Overseas episode on ‘Our Best Budgeting Tips for Studying and Travelling Overseas’. This episode is full of tips and ideas that will save you from running out of money while you’re abroad!

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Getting Ready To Go

So now you’ve made the decision that you’re going to go on the adventure of a lifetime. In this chapter, you’ll find a check-list of everything you should tick off before you embark on your study overseas experience!

  • Make sure you have the right visa for the country you’re going to, and the duration of study (if you require one). If you’re not sure about this, and travelling on an Australian passport, Smart traveller will have the most up to date information.(https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/) Otherwise, make sure you get in touch with your relevant consulate or embassy.

  • Make sure that your passport has 6 months validity from the date of your return to Australia.

  • Keep copies of any important documents, and photocopies of your passport in your carry-on and checked luggage

  • Organise how you will access your money abroad- exchange some cash before you go, so that you have some handy for taxis, food etc. You can exchange the rest once you’re over there. Look into travel card options as well with your bank, so that you can load up the currency from the host country onto that, and avoid international transaction fees.

  • Let your bank know that you’re going overseas.

  • Check with your GP whether you need any vaccinations in your host country

  • Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for the time that you’re overseas.

  • Look into mobile phone options overseas as well! Make sure your phone is unlocked, as you can most likely get a prepaid sim once you’re in the host country, so that you can use your phone for calls and data while you’re overseas.

  • Download a map of your host city on google maps, so that you can fund your way once you arrive. Saving the address and directions to your accommodation from the airport will save you having to worry about whether you can connect to wifi at the airport, and give you peace of mind when arriving!

  • Download Duolingo and brush up on some phrases from your host country if they aren’t english speaking!

PACKING

  • Make sure you have everything with you that you would generally need at your home university, such as your laptop.

  • Handy things to bring: A travel adaptor, a neck pillow for the plane, quick-dryingtravel towel.

  • Make sure you know your weight allowance for checked luggage on your flight to avoid any fees for overweight baggage  at the airport

  • Don’t fill your bag entirely- leave room for souvenirs!

  • If you’re struggling for space, try packing cubes, they’re a great way to fit more in your bag, and organise your packing so that you can find things more easily.

  • Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on baggage, as well as any importantdocuments for your arrival, and an empty water bottle.
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PACKING GUIDE HERE

HANDY TRAVEL APPS TO
DOWNLOAD BEFORE YOU GO

Hopper - Not sure if you should book that flight now or wait? This flight price predictor app will help you decide.
Skyscanner - This app is truly fantastic - it allows you to choose one-way or return or multi destination flights, specific dates or a whole month range and then generates the results across all airlines to show you the cheapest flights available. You can choose how many stopovers you’d like, how long you want the journey to be and choose to get price alerts for a certain journey. It is a website as well if you prefer to use a computer rather than your phone.
TripIt - Based on all the travel information in your emails, this app creates a travel itinerary! You’ll have access to this itinerary offline too. No wifi? No problem!
AccuWeather - This is a very well-rated weather app that features 15 day forecasts and provides minute-by-minute rainfall forecasts. It also tells you the difference between what the temperature gauge says and how it actually feels outside.
Packpoint - Want to take your organisation level up a notch? Packpoint will create a customised packing list for your trip based on your destination, length of stay, the activities you’ll be doing and purpose of travel. How clever!
XE Currency - Exchange rates are constantly fluctuating and it’s hard to keep track particularly when you don’t always have access to the internet. XE Currency Converter solves that problem for you! With the app, you can monitor up to 10 currencies of your choice while offline.
Google Maps / MAPS.me - These apps will allow you to read the maps to find your hotel, a train station, and attractions in your destination while offline. How? Simply download the maps for the region/city you will be travelling to while you are connected to the internet.
Google Translate - Google Translate is a lifesaver for any traveler with 103 languages available online, and 59 languages available offline. You can type in your text, speak it or use your camera to translate signs too!

For more useful apps that you’ll need for your study overseas trip, watch the Study Overseas LIVE show, Episode 1, ‘Top 20 Apps for Overseas Travel and Study’.

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Taking Care Of Your Mental Health While Overseas

Whether you have a previous history of mental health issues or not, homesickness, culture shock or more serious issues like anxiety and depression can arise due to a change in environment like when studying overseas. In this chapter, we'll share with you our best tips on how to make sure you take care of your mental health while you’re abroad.

PLAN AHEAD

Travel is exciting, but it can also be challenging! Before studying or travelling abroad, it’s important to be aware of the signs of what it looks or feels like to be struggling with mental health. This way, you won’t be left in the dark if it happens to you, and you’ll know exactly what to do to get help.

When studying overseas, you typically won’t have your regular support circle to notice if you’re not sleeping well, or if you’re distant to know that something is wrong. It’s also easy to beat yourself up if you’re feeling like you’re struggling with mental health because you might think you should be having the ‘the time of your life’, and that you should be ‘making the most of every minute’.

When away from our family, friends and regular routines, it’s completely normal to feel homesick, lonely or depressed, these feelings may be symptoms of culture shock. Culture shock is actually quite common and can be described as the impact of moving from a familiar culture to an unfamiliar one. Symptoms of culture shock may be:


  • low mood
  • recurring illness
  • negativity
  • rapid mood swings
  • inability to focus
  • irritability and frustrations
  • self doubt
  • withdrawing from friends and activities
  • bad sleeping habits
  • loss of appetite
  • anxiety

The best thing to do when you’re experiencing culture shock is to recognise that what you’re feeling is only temporary. It’s also a great idea to eat a balanced diet and to get out, get active and explore your local area as this will help boost your mood and can establish connections with your host culture. You can also journal, or talk to someone you trust about what you’re feeling.

Watch this video to learn more about culture shock and what to do if you find yourself experiencing it.

Before you leave, Google 'mental health support [your host university]' and you'll be able to navigate to the part of the website and it should contain a list of services that will be available to you while you're abroad. If you can't find anything, contact your Australian University International Office and see if they have any contact information for you.

WHILST ABROAD:

  • Establish a routine

When you’ve finally made it to your host country, it’s important to establish a routine, and find things that you enjoy. These might be things like continuing your daily morning runs, or a daily morning meditation. Doing these things that you would normally do at home will help you settle in much quicker.

  • Don’t isolate yourself

One thing to be aware of is social isolation. Biologically we crave our safe space when we aren’t feeling good but forcing yourself to go out and see new things or socialise can help take your mind off things for at least a little while. You want to avoid doing this as you don’t want to spend your entire exchange in your dorm room!

  • Check in with yourself

It’s important to check-in with yourself regularly. Take a step back, gain some perspective and see how you are truly feeling. A creative outlet to help you express this like through writing or journaling can be really useful. By doing this, you’ll avoid exhausting yourself with too many activities. Studying abroad is an awesome opportunity and you want to make the most of it, but wanting to make the most of it and trying to fit everything into your already packed schedule are very different things. It’s ok to not go to every single social outing. If you need a break, it’s ok to have an early night and do some journaling instead of going out to dinner with friends.

  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise

A healthy diet and regular exercise can really make all the difference! A healthy body can contribute to a healthy mind! This does not mean you need to be a gym junkie, but it’s all about balance.

  • Reach out for support

Don’t forget that you can reach out to your support network if you need it. You’ll have your international coordinators, a counsellor at your abroad uni, your Australian home university international office advisors or you can call back home for support.

  • Expand your network

Not only is it important to have friends while you’re overseas to have a good time and avoid loneliness, but you are also far away from your normal circle of friends and family. It is important to have a solid support network so you know you can rely on people around you if the going gets tough. A good way to make new friends while studying overseas is by joining some social clubs!

Watch the Study Overseas LIVE episode 7 ‘How To Take Care of Your Mental Health While Travelling Overseas’ to see more advice.

Here are some tips if you have an existing mental health condition: 

● When applying, be sure to be open and honest about your condition. This way you will be properly supported throughout your experience.
● Talk to your health care professional at home before you leave. They’ll be able to give you tips on how to stay mentaly healthy whilst studying abroad.
● Be sure to have enough medication for your entire trip and be sure to have the script and a letter from your doctor for when you go through the airport.
● Does your travel insurance include mental health? If not, consider taking out travel insurance with this as an add on
● Look into what facilities are available to you whilst studying overseas. Is there a counsellor at the university if necessary, is there a 24 hour emergency number you
can call if you need it?

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Using Overseas Travel to Get Your Dream Job

By now you will know that an overseas travel experience you will benefit your future career. Most employers view travel, and particularly studying abroad, as a positive and will consider it highly important in their recruitment process. But how do you actually use your experience to get that job once you’ve graduated? In this chapter, you’ll learn how to use your experience, and how to talk about it in the job interview to be able to score that dream job.

Storytelling

According to Forbes (2019) “stories make a difference in job interviews” because it makes you relatable and memorable. Most go into job interviews prepared to talk in detail about everything in their resume and cover letter and while this is necessary, most interviewers have already read these and they want to know even more about you.

Just think, there’s a reason why we get lost in books, why we go to the movies, and why we binge watch Netflix, it’s because everyone loves a great story. Use this concept in your interview!

We suggest that you write down or think about three of your most memorable experiences and then consider how they changed your opinion about something, what you may have learned about yourself or what you learned about the culture in that country. From here, we can establish how you’ve grown as a person and then start a list of skills you acquired with your overseas experience.

To learn more about storytelling in interviews, and to read about the ‘5 to Help You Ace Your Job Interview’, you can read this article by Forbes here.

Meet with study abroad advisors

According to Linkedin, more senior leaders are valuing soft skills over hard skills in the work environment. Hard skills are teachable activities such as the ability to use computer programs, whereas soft skills are traits that you develop yourself and can make you the ideal employee for any job.

The top 5 soft skills that employers need most in 2020 are: Creativity, Persuasion, Collaboration, Adaptability and Emotional Intelligence (Linked In, 2020). There’s no
doubt that you’ll use one, if not all of these during your overseas study abroad experience, regardless of the length of your study. Think of one example from your study abroad trip that you can use for each of these soft skills and form a story around it that you can tell future employers.

How do I incorporate my travel experience in an interview?

The next difficult step after identifying the skills is actually using them in an interview.

According to Seek, some of the most common interview questions are:
1. Tell me about yourself/ describe yourself
2. What are your greatest strengths?
3. How have you overcome a difficult situation?
4. What are you passionate about?
5. How do you handle stress?

Your travel experience can be applied to all of these questions and give you an opportunity again, to be memorable and demonstrate your real world experience. Again, you want to incorporate storytelling so that you will be a memorable candidate. We’ll give you some ideas on how to answer these questions below:

Tell me about yourself

Chances are the employer will have already read your resume before asking you in for an interview. They will already know which university you attended, what you studied and majored in, so you don’t want to regurgitate that back to them again. This question is a chance to elaborate on the experience, skills and highlights you have stated on your resume and why these skills make you a qualified person for the role.

For example:
although you may be new to the workforce, you have a real passion for the industry which you gained when you travelled overseas in BLANK and learned BLANK.

What are your greatest strengths?

This is your chance to discuss those soft skills that you cultivated while travelling! Outline a few key strong points, how you gained them and how they have benefitted you or past employers in different situations.

How have you overcome a difficult situation?

This doesn’t have to be some work crisis! Employers just want to understand how you act under pressure. For example you missed your bus to the next city you were staying at but kept your cool, and despite not speaking the language of the locals found another bus or train that was leaving in a few hours and got another ticket, managing not to cut into your budget because you had some spare emergency cash for times like this!

What are you passionate about?

Employers aren’t going to hire employees that are only in it for the money. While it is a pretty persuasive incentive, it’s a given, they know they are paying you and you know you’ll be getting paid.

What they really want to hear is why you’ve chosen the field you have, whether you have enthusiasm for the actual work because money is only going to take you so far as an employee. Explain your passions to them and how that applies to the potential job and industry.

For example: when you studied abroad, you met so many amazing, different and interesting people who had so many stories to tell, which is what sparked your interest in communications/ journalism/ languages etc.


How do you handle stress?

A workplace can be a stressful environment, maybe not all the time, but we can guarantee that there will be times when everybody is extremely busy and you will need to be on top of your game. Employers just want to know that when those times hit, you will be prepared and you won’t crumble. Discuss a stressful situation that you handled in a productive manner and also mention what you learned from it. Again, it does not need to be workplace related, you can use your study overseas experience for it!

For example: it was a stressful situation moving halfway across the world where you didn’t speak the language but you handled it by increasing the study of the language on your own time.

Want more interview tips. Check out this article by AIM Overseas that gives you more advice on ‘How to Ace Your Next Job Interview’. To help increase your chances of getting your dream job, you’ll want to build your personal brand. How? Read this in-depth article on how you can build your personal brand while you’re still at uni so that you can get the job you want once you graduate! 

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Additional Resources and Links


About the Author:

Rob Malicki has been called “Mr Student Mobility” by Australian university staff.

Rob fought to improve the OS-HELP loan scheme, started the Australian Exchange Fair Circuit and national forum on outbound mobility, helped to design and implement the New Colombo Plan… and much more.

He’s also the founder of AIM Overseas, The Global Society and the popular YouTube channel Choosing Your Uni. 

With over two decades in the industry (and 3 of his own overseas study
experiences and countless overseas adventures) his knowledge of university-level overseas travel and study is unparalleled.

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