Overseas study survival guide

Find out who's heading where for their degrees and why from LYNN LEE, HO AI LI and MARIA ALMENOAR. You have clinched a place in university, settled your accommodation and booked an air ticket.

What to take

WARM clothes. Usually cheaper overseas. If you must get it here, try Robinsons at Centrepoint and Great Winter World at Great World City and Eastpoint. Stationery. Books. Textbooks are much cheaper here. The best places to get them are the National University of Singapore Cooperative, Clementi Book Store and Nanyang Bookshop at Nanyang Technological University.

Mementoes. Photos and little soft toys will bring those far away closer to you.

Electronic goods. A laptop for doing assignments, chatting online and playing CDs and VCDs. Also consider a digital camera so you can e-mail snapshots to family and friends. A sense of humour.

Keeping in touch

INSTANT messaging programs, like Skype. Most university rooms are wired for Internet access. Online chatting is a cost-effective way of keeping in touch.

International calling cards. The cards you can get overseas are usually cheaper.

Web cameras. They will allow you to see your family as you talk. Available from electronic stores. Prices range from $65 to $129. Letters.

Settling down

JET lag. Follow the normal eating and sleeping patterns of your new time zone and refrain from taking naps. Exposure to sunlight helps to reset your body clock.

Acclimatising. Take it easy for the first week to adapt to local conditions.

Language. You may find it hard to understand the accents of the locals and vice-versa. Give yourself time to adapt and do ask people to speak slowly, repeat what they have said, or explain what they mean. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. It's part of the learning experience.

Make friends. Joining clubs and societies is a good way to get to know people with similar interests.

Dealing with culture shock

READ up on the history and culture of the country to help you orientate yourself physically and mentally. Walk around your new neighbourhood to develop a sense of 'home'. Listen to music, read a book not related to your studies.

Practical matters

MONEY. Open a bank account here before you leave. Make sure you have access to cash or are carrying enough to last you at least for the first two weeks. Get an International Student Identity Card, which allows you concessions when traveling. Apply for one at any STA Travel office (Orchard Towers, National University of Singapore and Singapore Polytechnic).

Work and study. In Britain, an international student can work up to 20 hours a week during term and full-time during holidays.

In Australia, apply to the immigration authorities there for a visa with permission to work. It lets you work up to 20 hours a week during course time and full-time during the holidays.

In the US, get an F-1 visa from the American embassy here. It allows you to work up to 20 hours per week on campus. Health care. Medical care is free for international students in Britain under the National Health Service. In the US and Australia, you have to pay a 'health fee' each term, after which it is free or heavily subsidised.

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