What no one tells you about being an international student…
Ah, university; the end of an era. Well, that is, if you aren’t continuing to just go on to your next university degree. Yes, that’s right, I’m gonna be doing a master’s programme, straight after my undergrad concludes. I know it’s not uncommon to go from an undergrad from a postgrad course. However, that doesn’t sound as simple as it seems. I wanted to talk a bit about my experience of applying for a postgrad as an international student in a new country, going through the processes involved in the middle of a pandemic, and how it made me anxious for the greater part of my summer break. Fun!
So, how did that work? The biggest stressor for an international student is applying for a visa. Apart from applying for the course, obviously. But this article won’t focus on that (if you do want me to write an article about that, do let me know!). Here, I want to talk about everything else that goes into bringing me to the country where I will be studying for the next couple of years.
I will be doing my Master’s in Europe, so the biggest impediment to me getting there is the visa process. Applying for a student visa to attend Warwick was a very stressful procedure in itself, despite the fact that my parents were around to assist me with the technicalities. And it WASN’T a pandemic. In 2021, none of the above things were true. This was the first time I was filling in an application and doing all the research myself. I applied for my visa in the UK, which was not my home country; I was conscious of the fact that I may not be able to apply for my visa from here. Also, this was my first visa application as an adult; I couldn’t just rely on my dad to deal with the formalities, I had to do everything by myself. I cannot begin to convey the amount of stress that bubbled up inside of me, each step of the way. I couldn’t sleep the night before my appointment due to the tension I was feeling about facing the visa official. Going through the documents and making a whole separate set of copies of the essential documents was the only thing that helped me feel calm, reassuring me that I was ready for the appointment the following morning. The appointment itself went off smoothly; all my documents were in order, I was nice to the official helping me process my documents, and my visa was approved (at a pace that even I was surprised with). The learning that I was left with is that if you have every possible document that they have mentioned online, you will be fine during the appointment. Don’t worry about it, buddy; you got this.
The next million-dollar question: where are you going to be staying? At Warwick, it feels like that we have to decide where we live the following year before we even have gotten used to where we live in the current year. In first year, I had to book my accommodation for Year 2 in November. November of first year. What is up with that?
Well, imagine my tribulation with finding a good place to stay in a city that I have never visited (and would not be able to do so because, you know, visa), and stick with that for the coming year? I needed my accommodation to be booked for the purposes of my visa application (at least for the first 3 months), so this was additional pressure. Talk about exhilarating. Well, I spent ages looking on housing websites and AirBNB, and finally found an apartment that fulfilled my requirements (albeit I could not head in for a viewing myself). It is stressful, so keep your expectations aligned with that.
Another thing to be concerned about is bank accounts. That’s always something that is concerning; I spent half of my time in Freshers’ Week standing in queues for the banks at the SU to create a bank account. I will say, this is the step that I am still working on, so don’t ask me about that (hehe).
Well, those are the worries that harrowed me in my pursuit of postgrad in an international university. After doing my undergrad abroad. Hopefully, this helps put some things in perspective for you, especially if you are contemplating doing your Master’s abroad after university. Take care, and don’t be too worried about what comes next; you WILL figure it out, I assure you.