Pre-Departure Checklist: Getting Ready for Exchange Studies


During late February, when I was in my 2nd year I was thinking whether if I need to go for exchange or not but after hearing from my friends opinion and some other people opinion, I decided to give it a try and apply for exchange. For that I contacted HAMK International team just a day before the deadline and thanks to HAMK International team they were too quick and they helped me with all the application related things.

A few days later, an email arrived with the excellent news that my exchange was approved. Shortly thereafter, another email followed, prompting me to apply to the host university. This marked the official beginning of my journey into the world of exchange studies.

Preparing for an exchange involves lot of considerations. At the forefront, I recognized that  importance of checking the expiration dates of both my Passport and Residence permit. Nothing could be worse than finding ourself in the mid of an exchange experience only to realize that their residence permit has expired! Another important step was checking whether I needed a visa for the host country. In case a visa was required, it was advised to initiate the application process once selected for the exchange program.

My visa endeavor turned out to be quite the saga. While my residence permit in Finland was based on family ties, it was understood that I wouldn’t need a visa for my studies in Austria due to my existing permit. This assumption led to confusion, with many, including embassy personnel, presuming I held a student visa. Fortunately, my diligent cross-checking revealed that I needed a short-term D visa. Evidently, visa-free mobility only applied to those with a student residence permit in Finland.

Returning to the main topic : I focused on boosting my existing or already passed out grades to safeguard my grades, even if my time in Austria didn’t go as planned. Searching for suitable housing came next. Drawing on my connections, I scoured options, recognizing that not all universities and countries offer student housing. Planning ahead was really important, and I advise others to maintain budget for rental deposits and any associated costs.

Advance documentation and early research proved invaluable. Once accepted to the exchange university, a window of approximately 20 days opened up before course selection began. This gave me good  time to check the university’s course catalogue, identifying subjects that aligned with my study plan. Seeking input from a guidance counselor was also recommended for making informed choices. Checking flight ticket prices became a constant endeavor, aiming to secure affordable deals well in advance.

With these preparations in place, the countdown to departure began, marking the end of my holidays. Ensuring to cherish moments with loved ones became a priority, knowing that the adventure ahead would be both exhilarating and transformative.

Vignesh Reddy Kandi
Computer Applications student

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