Preparing for a new adventure abroad

How do you prepare as your child gets ready to study abroad? Here are some handy tips before they board the plane…

Preparing to go abroad for further education can be both very exciting and full of concern at the same time for parents and children. From financial preparations, to choosing schools, to getting your student visa sorted, to finding accommodation, to knowing what to pack – there are many things to consider when making the move to a new country and it may all seem a bit overwhelming.

To help you prepare for when your child leaves to study abroad, here’s a handy guide to help you get things in order from before your child leaves Malaysia to after they arrive so they can transition as smoothly as possible to life as a new student abroad.

Pre-departure preparation

Apply for a student visa

As soon as your child has the university enrolment confirmation and the necessary documents, apply for their visa.1 Visas can often take several weeks to be done, so make sure you allow plenty of time to get one.2 It’s also important to make sure your child’s passport is up to date and will not expire anytime soon.2 If you need to, arrange to have your child’s passport renewed earlier rather than later.2 Do check if your child’s student visa allows them to work in their destination country or not, as they might want to once they get there.1

Open a bank account

Your child could use your Malaysian bank account and card facilities in the destination country for payments, but you will probably end up spending more this way in terms of exchange rates and charges per transaction.1 A better option would be to open a bank account in their destination country.2

For existing HSBC Premier customers, HSBC Premier provides you with the ability to open international accounts from Malaysia so the account will be ready to use even before your child arrives at the destination.8 Through Global View, you can access all your global HSBC accounts through a single login to manage the accounts, and Global Transfers lets you transfer money instantly between HSBC accounts globally with no transfer fees.9

With an HSBC Premier account, your child will have easy access to their bank accounts in different places, withdraw cash easily and make purchases with their debit card.2

Sort out accommodation

The university may provide assistance on looking for accommodation, but there is also a possibility that you will have to plan this on your own for your child.2 The first step is to have a look at what the university offers.2 Most universities will likely have university accommodation for new international students.2 Student accommodations are a good option in the first year because all the residents will be students so your child will find more in common with them and they will have the opportunity to learn about different cultures.1 Plus there are other potential benefits – like 24-hour security, on-site maintenance, inclusive bills so you don’t have to worry about paying bills separately each month.1

Regardless, paying for accommodation and bills should be convenient with HSBC Premier. You can transfer money instantly to your child whenever it is needed, fee-free, and enjoy preferential exchange rates as well.

Get insurance

It is crucial to get insurance when your child is studying abroad in case anything happens to them or their belongings.2 Shop around to find the best deal and check if any insurance companies offer student discounts.2 Also check what kind of health insurance your child might need in the destination country.2 In the US, for example, it is mandatory for all international students to get medical insurance before the commencement of their programme.3

Emergency assistance

In the case of a financial emergency, your child can get assistance from an HSBC branch closest to them. Apart from having access to a dedicated Relationship Manager and access to the exclusive 24/7 Premier Contact centre, your child can also get emergency encashment available to Premier customers across all HSBC branches worldwide.

Consider your child’s lifestyle

Think about where your child is headed and what kind of lifestyle they might be leading there.2 If they are heading to a bustling city, then pack comfortable shoes for lots of walking.2 Also consider what the local community might be like when your child is packing.2 If they are going to quite a conservative country or area, then keep that in mind when packing and bring clothing that adheres to societal expectations.2

Wherever your child may be along the journey to studying abroad, we are here to help make that journey smoother. Speak to your Relationship Manager to find out how you can take advantage of our banking solutions designed to meet your child’s educational needs abroad.

Tips to adjusting to university life in a new country

Transitioning from secondary school to university can be daunting enough, let alone having to do it in a foreign country thousands of kilometres away from home and family. So, here are some useful tips to help guide your child through it so that they can fully enjoy their experience of studying abroad.

Research before they arrive

Doing their own research about the university, its location and facilities around, will help them arrive more prepared since not everything can be packed and taken with them.4 Requirements which are basic in nature can be planned in advance, but it’s always useful to know where the pharmacy, supermarket, convenience store, banks and the likes are located.4 Remember, Google is their best friend.

Take a piece of home with them

One of the best ways to settle into a new place is to take a piece of home with you.4 Pack some family photos that your child can put up on the walls, pack their favourite pillow or stuffed toy so your child can personalise their student room to let them feel at home.4

Encourage them to make global friendships

Being in a new country and not knowing anyone can be quite lonely initially.4 Encourage your child to socialise and be open so it’s easier to make friends.4 Most universities will organise social events bringing together new local and international students.4 Get your child to attend as many as they can.4 As much as your child would like to engage with other students from Malaysia, encourage them to get outside their comfort zone and make friends with students from other countries as that is one of the significant experiences of studying abroad.4

Take time to explore their surroundings

Everything will be new for your child.4 Even if the family has visited the city before as tourists or in preparation for your child moving over, your child may still face challenges as an international student and may find it very different living there.4 They should walk more and explore, as this will help them find hidden places they might not have been aware of and also help them familiarise themselves with their surroundings.4

Leave their bubble and go on an adventure

Yes, your child leaving the safe bubble of home can be scary.4 But in their first year away at university, it is good for them to explore as much as they can, and try different and new things.4 This can help them discover new things that they may like.4 It also allows them to bond over activities with other international students.4 The first semester is usually a little relaxed so it’s a good time to explore and get to know their way around their new home.4

Ask questions

Malaysians don’t like to ask questions because we don’t want to look like we aren’t knowledgeable.7 But asking questions is a great habit.4 This way your child can gain from someone else’s experience and they can find out so much more about where they are going to be living the next few years of their lives.4 This will help them settle down better as well, and you can make some new friends along the way at university.4

Saving for your child’s education

The reality is, a quality education doesn’t come cheap. If you are one of the 9 in 10 Malaysian parents considering sending your child abroad for a university education5, then early financial planning is key.

Plan early

Planning your finances early in life can go a long way to help reduce financial strain in the future when you have to cough up a large sum of money for your child’s education.6 Seeking the advice of a financial planner who has the knowledge to help you be more money-aware and develop a strategy to save may be a good idea.6

Through HSBC Premier, you could open a Premier Junior Savers account10 as you plan ahead for your child’s future education. You could teach them early about the value of saving, provide them with a taste of financial responsibility with their own debit card and you can enjoy cash back to grow their savings.

In addition, you can boost your child’s profile for university applications by enrolling them in Oxbridge academic programmes for Grade 8-12 students held at reputable universities in the US, UK and Europe while enjoying a 15% discount on tuition fees as an HSBC Premier customer11. You will receive value-added Oxbridge services including counselling, personal statement polishing, mock admissions interviews and tips on how to apply to top universities.

HSBC Premier customers also enjoy 15% off courses and packages by PrepWorks12, an education company focused on guiding and preparing students to successfully apply to top boarding schools and universities in the world – with a particular focus on UK and US institutions. PrepWorks have a complete range of services including ongoing admissions guidance, school selection and strategy, interview preparations, entrance exams and general consultations to help your child gain entry into the university of their dreams.

For parents who want to prepare their kids early with hopes of landing a spot in Oxford, Cambridge or a top boarding school, the company offers enrichment classes and academic coaching for kids as young as seven-years-old designed to enhance numeracy and literacy skills, critical thinking, speaking, study skills, critical reading and writing. Visit www.prep.works to find out more.

Consider education insurance

There are many education policies designed to help parents realise their child’s education dreams.6 Many of these plans combine a savings and investment feature with the protection portion.6 Find a plan that fits your financial capability to avoid dipping into your own savings and retirement fund for educational costs.6

Unit trusts and fixed deposits

A good option to grow your money is investing in unit trust funds that may offer higher returns depending on market performance that can go towards paying for your child’s education in the future.6 Or if you have a large sum to park in a bank account, one option is to put it into a Time Deposit account10 and let it accumulate interest over the years.6

HSBC Premier offers specialist wealth support and the latest wealth insights that can help you make informed investment decisions to build your child’s future education fund.

Investing in real estate

Real estate offers another investment option that could provide positive capital appreciation to build wealth for your child’s educational needs.5 When it comes to real estate investment, location and timing are key.5 Buying a property at a strategic location at the right time will see better appreciation in value.5 This means looking around and doing your research.5 The best opportunities aren’t always where you think they are.5

Sources:

1. Unilodgers.com, Ready. Set. Go – it’s university time, undated. 

2. Times Higher Education, The best ways to prepare for studying abroad, 20 June 2019.

3. International Education Specialists, Cost of studying in the USA, undated.

4. Unilodgers.com, How to adjust to university life – 10 must do’s for international students, undated.

5. iMoney.com, How to fund your child’s tertiary education in the UK, 6 March 2017.

6. Malay Mail, Are Malaysian parents saving enough for their children’s education? 10 October 2019.

7. New Straits Times, Getting students to speak up, 2 August 2017.

8. Subject to host country’s approval.

9. Subject to destination country’s local regulation and HSBC internal policy requirement.

10. Protected by Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia up to RM250,000 for each depositor.

11. Oxbridge Terms and Conditions apply. Exclusively for HSBC Premier Travel Credit Card, HSBC/HSBC Amanah Premier World MasterCard Credit Card/-i, HSBC Premier Visa Debit Card and HSBC Amanah Premier Debit Card-i customers. Kindly refer to your respective Relationship Manager for Promo Code to be entitled for the offer. Valid until 31 December 2020.  Find out more at www.hsbc.com.my/oxbridge.

12. PrepWorks Terms and Conditions apply. Exclusively for HSBC Premier Travel Credit Card, HSBC Premier World Mastercard Credit Card and HSBC Premier Visa Debit Card customers in Malaysia only and subject to appointments only and on first come, first served basis. Valid until 31 December 2020. Find out more at www.hsbc.com.my/prepworks.