Studying abroad might just be one of the best experiences you’ll have in life. The thrill of living and exploring a foreign country while studying in your dream university is unparalleled. Of course, studying abroad won’t always be rainbows and butterflies. Behind all that excitement lies the reality of housing costs, fees, etc. But if you’re hell-bent on getting that exchange student experience (which you should be), how do you make your study abroad dream a reality?
Use the power of the internet
Research. The first step you should do is learn more about the country you want to take up international studies at, which university to pick, and which course to go for. Once you’ve narrowed those things down, dive deeper and look up things like what’s the weather like in your chosen country, the accessibility of your university, and the programs they offer.
For example, in France, temperatures can go as low as 1°C in the winter and as high as 45.9°C in the summer so you might want to pack appropriate outfits for that. You should also check if the school you’re interested in offers courses in a language you’re fluent in.
Some of the most affordable countries to study abroad are Norway, Poland, Germany, and France — where tuition is low but the cost of living is high.
Start prepping months before
Prepping for studying abroad comes in different forms. There’s the money aspect where you save every peso to aid your expenses because NGL, studying abroad isn’t cheap. Part of preparing is setting a budget when you get there so you’ll know how much you can spend.
It’s also a good idea to lurk on your chosen university’s social media sites to get updates on their scholarships, events, and announcements. And to further set your expectations for your dream to study abroad, always check out the country’s Philippine Embassy page so you get updates too.
Knowing everything about the place you’re going to should be your goal. That way, you can minimize your stress when you get there.
Have a chat with someone who has been there, done that
Researching online can only get you so far. Ask for firsthand experience from someone who already studied in your chosen country. Don’t know anyone personally? Ask your friends and relatives both locally and those staying abroad. You can also join helpful Facebook groups like this one for Filipinos studying in Canada and this one for students planning on studying in European countries.
Enroll in scholarships
Studying abroad might tear a hole in your pocket. You’ve got all kinds of costs at your heels — flight tickets, housing, cost of living, tuition, the list goes on and on. Just getting one of those off your back would make a huge difference. Follow Facebook pages like Fulbright Philippines, Three Lions Visa Services, and Jellyfish Education Philippines for scholarship opportunities in a number of countries including Canada, the US, and other European countries such as France and Spain. These organizations and agencies even offer counseling sessions to help set you on the right path.
Alternatively, you can call up your chosen university and inquire if you’re eligible for scholarships and what kinds they offer.
Go for an affordable program
Affordable programs might not let you customize the whole study abroad experience but they’re easier on the pockets. You can either check if your local university has exchange student programs or directly enroll at your abroad university of choice.
Another way to deal with the high tuition fees is to pick a school that can fit your financial needs and substituting expensive countries for those with a lower cost of living. That might mean forgoing your dream school for now but it’s a great stepping stone nonetheless. Just make sure that your chosen program includes tuition fees, housing, meals, and even visa processing and health insurance. That way, you get the most out of your money and experience.
Money matters: financial aid and student accommodation
Save cash by asking your chosen university if you’re eligible for financial aid. This would be a huge help in your expenses but you can also help yourself in other ways. Learn to live like a local — shop and cook for yourself. Another way to save is to use your student ID to get discounts whenever possible. Transportation, libraries, books, museums, hostels, and more usually come with student discounts.
Your chosen university might offer student accommodations on campus but these sometimes come with hefty price tags. To get around this, look for apartments nearby or join your fellow students and rent a space together to split costs. Not only will you save, but you’ll also gain friends and learn a bit more about different cultures through them.
Another hack: once you’re there, open a bank account in your country of choice ASAP. Exchange rates, international fees, and interest fees will drain you of your savings and you can’t have that. To open an account you’ll need a passport, proof of residence, and proof that you’re a student. This lets you pay for everything in the currency of the country and avoid added expenses. Your study abroad dream doesn’t have to be expensive!
Book flights with an airline that can guarantee your safety
Your first priority in the middle of a pandemic is your safety. If you were to study abroad, you’ll spend quite some time in airports and planes mingling with strangers. This is why you have to choose an airline that values passenger safety above all.
In early 2021, Qatar Airways became the first global airline worldwide to achieve a 5-star COVID-19 airline safety rating by Skytrax. You’ll feel safe with their strict hygiene and health and safety standards and procedures from flight check-in to aircraft on-boarding. They’re even the first global airline to implement 100% touch-free in-flight entertainment aboard their Airbus A350 fleet. All you need to do is scan a QR code on your gadget and you’ll have access to an extensive catalog in their award-winning Oryx One in-flight entertainment system. Zero-touch!
Still worried about the safety of your travel? Qatar Airways will put your doubts to rest. Their numbers speak facts: out of 4.6 million passengers flown since the start of 2020, only 582 were found to be COVID positive as of October last year. That means 99.988% of their passengers travel COVID-free. And since all the operating cabin crew practices the strictest health and safety measures inflight, only less than 1% have been affected by COVID-19.
Your study abroad dream will go smoothly if you choose to fly with an airline that will get you safely to your dream university. As of March 19, 2021, Qatar Airways flies from Manila 14 times weekly, from Clark 4 times weekly, and from Cebu 5 times weekly. Flight schedules remain subject to change without prior notice.
You don’t even have to wait for classes to start, you can fly out for the summer! The airline just released its 2021 summer schedule and announced that it’s expanding to more than 140 destinations. That’s 1,200 flights weekly including destinations in America, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.
But before you book that ticket, here’s one last hack.
Be part of a student club with travel perks and discounts
Here’s a helpful hack to save money on travel: join a student club that will give you tons of privileges for international students. Get better deals on travel plus more perks when you enroll for the Qatar Airways Student Club. The exclusive program is powered by Qatar Airways Privilege Club and is created specifically for students studying abroad.
If you’re on a long-haul flight to your uni, Qatar Airways Student Club will give you access to perks like in-flight Super Wi-Fi. The airline has the largest number of aircraft in Asia with high-speed broadband in-flight. You can connect with loved ones while in the skies, heck, you can even do some studying onboard.
Worried about a sudden change in plans? Qatar Airways also gives you the flexibility you need with unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for travels completed in 2021. These are only for tickets booked until April 30, 2021. You even have the option to exchange your tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value.
Hauling a lot of stuff? No worries! Being a Student Club member entitles you to an extra baggage allowance of 10kg. Plus, you also get to add one more piece of baggage depending on your route. That’s a huge help for those who have had too much to pack! All you have to do is show your Student Club digital card and you’re good to go.
How can the Student Club benefit you?
You’ll get to enjoy benefits like special fares on flights (up to 20% off!), extra baggage allowance (additional 10 kg!), flexible date changes, and complimentary super Wi-Fi on board. And when you finally finish your studies, Student Club will bump you to the Qatar Airways Privilege Club tier as a sweet graduation gift. Even more benefits and discounts await after the upgrade!
How can you qualify?
Qualifying for Student Club membership is easy. All you have to do is show proof that you’re studying for a degree at a recognized higher education provider. You also have to be between 18- and 30-years-old and provide your expected graduation date plus other requested documents. After that, you’ll be given your digital Student Club card in no time. Student Club will soon get family benefits upgrade which will let your friends and family save while visiting you.
Make your study abroad dream come true. Register now to be part of the Qatar Airways Student Club and get those perks and benefits!