New Year, new start for schools in Australia and Singapore. Studying abroad alone has always been an adventure in life, involving delicate preparation for every aspect of life. With the COVID-19 pandemic as well as lockdown and quarantine measures across the world, there is bound to be more things of concern than previous years. Here are some of the things you should know. Are you ready?
Pre-departure: Take note of entry requirements in different countries
Under the pandemic, various countries have introduced different levels of lockdown. Ahead of travel, the first and foremost thing to do is certainly to check whether those places allow student travels.
As of early January 2021, Singapore still permits overseas students to enter, but they are required to undergo quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Australian states popular with international students such as New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, have still not allowed overseas students back, but those policies could change quickly based on how their local epidemics pan out. That’s why due attention must be paid to the latest arrangements before departure.
Even if entry is possible, you should still check if there are special arrangements by the school, as well as quarantine arrangements, such as in designated places, and their related costs.
More importantly, under the pandemic, even if you need to come back to Hong Kong for emergencies, you still need to self-isolate. Right now, the quarantine period is 21 days in designated hotels, not at home. This can cause inconveniences, affecting emergency travels, and involve additional costs, so better be prepared.
Local arrangements: Be prepared for online courses
For overseas studies, the most important thing is accommodation. Most overseas students stay in school hostels or at the home of host families. There are advantages to both of these options, it’s easier to make friends in hostels for example, while you could get better care and attention under the roof of host families. For younger pupils unfamiliar with overseas studies, the latter may be more appropriate. as to prices, Singapore’s hostel fees are lower than the cost of host families, while those costs are similar in Australia.
On the other hand, if you need cash in foreign countries, the best strategy is to keep an eye on currency movements, and buy in stages when prices are low in order to diversify risks. During the pandemic, many schools and universities have switched to online learning, so you may have to buy computer equipment of a higher quality, to cope with many sudden changes in policies. Of course, weather-appropriate clothes are also important.
Future plans: Path to the right of abode?
Many people who go overseas for studies have an eye on staying there for the long term.
Different countries take a different approach to overseas students migrating to their nations. In the case of Singapore, the policy is broadly welcoming to migrants. Students only need to stay there for two years or more, and pass a nation-wide exam, to qualify for permanent citizenship.
In Australia, the immigration agencies there will regularly update information for jobs in shortage, currently they include nurses, software and programme engineers, mechanics and car repair workers etc. If they match your courses you are enrolled in, you may get a higher chance for emigration. Recently, Australia has announced a raft of new visa arrangements for Hongkongers. Current and future university graduate can get visas that are valid for up to five years, and after five years, other pathways of permanent citizenships.
Of course, getting more information and consulting local advisers and agencies there upon arrival are also important.
Accidents and Medical insurances: how to protect yourself if you “get it”
If unfortunately, you have contracted COVID-19 whilst studying abroad and can only face it alone, how should you deal with it? Don’t worry and stay calm. You should alert your schools, guardians and families, request help from your school, and follow the guidance from health departments there, and get treated. If you need to leave your home for quarantine and therapies, remember to bring your valuables, including your computer, phone, and charger, in case you will be away for a long time. Of course, if you have purchased insurance schemes, you can call your companies locally or back in Hong Kong for help.
On the other hand, different countries have insurance policy requirements that can vary. In Australia, for example, you need to purchase overseas students’ medical insurance in advance of applying for student visas. AXA’s Overseas Student Care provide medical and accident coverages, and not just in countries of study. For example, if you go on a driving tour in New Zealand while studying abroad in Australia, you will still get protected, and can even come back to Hong Kong for continuation of medical treatment, not just in Australia. This can suit students of different needs.
Relevant medical expenses protection covers overseas patients suffering from COVID-19 , with a maximum compensation of HK$2,000,000. If a student encounters a serious situation and needs to undergo a longer hospitalization overseas, the family members can also get compensation for transportation (round-trip air tickets) and accommodation expenses for the visit. Learn more: https://www.axa.com.hk/en/overseas-student-care
Understand more on COVID-19 health tips by clicking here: https://www.axa.com.hk/en/blog/health
The above content is reviewed by Kenneth Lai - P&C Distribution Director of AXA Hong Kong and Macau.
Information and materials provided is general in nature and does not constitute advice from AXA Hong Kong and is on an “as is” and “as-available” basis without representation and/or warranty of any kind, either express or implied. While AXA Hong Kong has taken reasonable care in providing such information and materials, they are not specific to your investment objective, financial situation, health or medical conditions or particular needs. No warranty or responsibility is assumed by AXA Hong Kong and our related or holding companies regarding non-infringement, security, accuracy, completeness, adequacy, reasonableness, fitness for a purpose or free from computer viruses in connection with the information and materials provided. AXA Hong Kong and our related companies and holding companies do not accept any liability for any loss, damage, cost or other expense, whether wholly or partially, directly or indirectly, arising from any error, inaccuracy or omission of the information and materials to the extent that such liability is not excluded by law.
Overseas Student Care is a comprehensive insurance including medical expenses coverage up to HKD2,000,000 and COVID-19 is covered. The plan also covers student abroad for personal accidents, study interruption, travel inconveniences, emergency medical evacuation, personal liability, loss of or damage to personal belongings and household contents.