Keeping the effects of Covid-19 in mind, there could be several surprises waiting for students who are finally ready to board the plane to join their campuses abroad, as universities start opening up. Some nasty surprises here or there can lead to unnecessary expenses and unpleasant experiences.
Here’s a checklist for students going abroad:
Carry vaccination certificate and know quarantine norms
This is one of the most important things to carry in a Covid-19 world. Carry your vaccine certificate while traveling abroad for studies. You should link the vaccine certificate with your passport as identity verification from Co-Win website.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and 15 countries in the European Union accept Covishield. But, in case you are travelling to a country where Covishield vaccination is not yet approved and mandatory quarantine applies, Adar Poonawalla, the Chief Executive Officer of Serum Institute of India (SII), manufacturer of Covishied vaccination, has set up financial support for students who have to quarantine. Students in such situation would have to apply for it on SII’s website for financial aid.
As more people get vaccinated, some countries are going easy on quarantine rules. For instance, in the US and Canada, there are no quarantine requirements if a student travels from India and has had both the vaccinations. If you have not taken a vaccine, then you will have to undergo mandatory quarantine as per the foreign country’s regulations. That has now been reduced from 14 days to a week. Some universities are reimbursing the entire cost, or 50 percent of the quarantine cost in foreign countries. For instance, in the UK and Australia, top universities will bear the quarantine cost for international students.
Purchase forex in India
While traveling abroad for studies, carry 30-40 percent of your currency in cash for immediate smaller expenses such as food and cab services. The rest of the money should be loaded on the prepaid forex card. Many students traveling for studies plan the expenses for the short term.
Because of pandemic year, plan your entire year cash flow before traveling and keep excess amount in cash and on prepaid forex card for uncertainty. While purchasing forex look at the markup. Many people end up paying 3-4% as markup charges, which is an enormous cost.
Avoid using debit or credit cards; they’re costly
Credit and debit cards are convenient when you swipe them within India. When you take them abroad, they turn costly. For every swipe done abroad, banks charge you a foreign currency conversion fee (up to 3-3.5 per cent for each transaction) and a foreign transaction charge (of around 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent, again for each transaction).
Further, every time you withdraw money from ATMs abroad using your debit/credit card, you pay a withdrawal fee (1 percent to 4 percent of the amount withdrawn) to the bank.
Buy a forex card, instead
Prepaid forex cards, on the other hand, have no forex conversion charges. This is because your currency is already converted before you leave India and loaded in to your card. So, every time you spend abroad, you are spending foreign currency, not Indian rupees converted to foreign currency. The forex cards can be topped up easily by your parents when you are abroad. These cards are secured with a pin.
Open a student bank account
Once you settle down, opening a bank account should be your top priority. A student bank account abroad is the safest and most effective way of managing your money, especially when the duration of the course is a year or more. These bank accounts are useful to pay fees to the university every semester and make a deposit from part-time job on the campus.
Because of neo banks, fintech firms in India now allow you to open a US bank account before travelling and you can use it once you get there. Not every country provides such services
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