Studying Abroad: All the important information

Part 2 of our Study Abroad Series

Written by Sabine Klug, Dec 3, 2021

Studying abroad can be a tough challenge, especially in a country with a different language. That’s why you have to think it through and chose the right university: Where do you want to go? Do you want to improve your German, perfect your English or learn a completely new language? Do you want to stay in Europe or travel to the USA or other more exotic countries? Those are the first questions you have to ask yourself before starting to plan.

More often than not the question of where to study accompanies the question of what to study. I mean, where and what you study go hand in hand. If you want to attend a very well renowned university then the country is quite obvious. In some cases, these questions answer themselves immediately. You want to study law at the world’s best university? Then Harvard University in the USA it is!

Organisations and information centres

Planning to study abroad is more complicated than just a semester abroad because you can’t rely on your university to help you. However, here are some independent organisations that can help you:

Another organisation that offers worldwide studying abroad is AIFS Austria. AIFS Austria offers semesters abroad. You study at a renowned university in a foreign country, attend lectures and can take advantage of an extensive offer of sports and leisure activities. All these universities have superb locations and great lectures. The program is meant for students as well as graduates. In addition, AIFS offers more opportunities to go abroad for students.

Application process: preparation

Studying abroad requires a lot of preparation. Each country and each university has a different application process. It’s best to inform yourself in advance on the website of your dream university about the application process, deadlines and necessary documents. Get everything done in time and plan some time to get missing documents.


It’s essential to pay attention to application deadlines! This is one of the first things to do: Find out all the deadlines for your application. Some countries have centralised application centres, like Great Britain. The USA, however, requires application documents 12 months in advance! That’s a lot of work! So, check out our timetable down below!

Most important application documents

Usually, universities require the same documents as if you would apply for only a semester abroad. Namely:

  • CV
  • Certificates (graduation, lectures, grades, etc)
  • Letter of motivation
  • Language certificate
  • Prove of financial means
  • Letter of recommendation

Here’s a good overview of the most important application documents:

CV, letter of motivation & recommendation

Your CV lists the most important facts about your education, past jobs, certificates and language skills. Your letter of motivation is a must have for any application. It should present clearly why you are perfect for this university and why this university is perfect for you. The letter of recommendation should be written by a neutral person like a professor or employer.

Certificate of language skills

English is essential for studying abroad. Nowadays it’s not necessary to speak the language of the country perfectly because many lectures are in English. However, it is a big advantage to be fluent in the country’s language to get by in everyday life. Most universities, especially in Canada and the USA, demand a certificate of your English skills (TOEFL or IELTS). Another obstacle can be an assessment test. The USA always requires the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), which is a multiple-choice test about linguistic, mathematical and literary skills.

Prove of financial means

Tuition fees and daily expenses vary from country to country. Especially American universities have high tuition fees. That’s why you have to prove beforehand that you have the financial means to sustain yourself. For a semester abroad, a prove of your parents’ income is sufficient, for studying abroad that’s not the case. You will find the necessary documents on your university’s homepage. Documents, such as Declaration and Certification of Finances or Affidavit of Financial Support, have to be signed by a notary.

If you or your family don’t have the financial means, you should inform yourself about potential scholarships. It’s not just the tuition fee, it’s also travel costs, living expenses, insurance and university stuff. The Austrian Office for Student Benefits, the Austrian Databank for Scholarships and Financial Support and the European Funding Guide offer more information on that.

Time management and Planning

Here are some tips for timely planning your study abroad. Of course, you will have to adapt the time plan to your own needs. We will cover organisational aspects like visa, accommodation, living expenses and insurance in our next article.

  • Approximately 1.5 years in advance

    • What do you want to study abroad?
    • Which university fits your field of study?
    • Which languages do you speak? Do you need a language certificate?
    • Inform yourself about the application modalities!
    • Which deadlines do you have to respect?
    • Is your graduation certificate acknowledged?
    • Get missing documents!
    • Get your documents translated if necessary!
  • Approximately 1 year in advance

    • Make a decision for one university!
    • Work on financial means or scholarships!
    • Apply for a scholarship if necessary!
    • Start the application process!
    • Start looking for and book an accommodation!
    • Do the assessment test!
    • Get a notary to sign your documents!
    • Research residence guidelines and immigration laws!
    • Apply for a visa!
  • 3 to 6 months in advance

    • Which deadlines and appointments do you have to pay attention to?
    • Do you need a work permit?
    • Do you have insurance? Which kind of insurance do you need?
    • Get your international student ID!
    • Get informed about a bank account in your target country (credit card too)!
    • Plan your travels: What are you going to bring? How much luggage can you bring? Do you need a moving company?
    • How are you going to get the keys for your accommodation?
    • Is there something that you have to take care of at home?
    • Are there any necessary vaccinations?
    • Is your passport valid?

We are happy to help!