We mostly spend most of our time focused on perfecting our application to enter the university of our choice. During this time, our emotions and thoughts are spent on how to create the perfect application. But what happens once that letter of acceptance is in your hands?
Past the point of euphoria, we experience a certain sense of nervousness and anxiety: what next? This article seeks to shed some light on what to prepare post-acceptance so that we are not caught off guard, whether it be documentation requirements or even the simple things such as universal plugs. The context will differ for each case, as this is based on my personal experience after having been accepted to the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (or “Unicamp”) in Brazil; however, hopefully some of the items listed below shall be useful.
1. Academic Documentation. Upon receiving of an acceptance letter (or perhaps even prior to that), students are usually requested to prepare certain documentation to be submitted to the relevant university. These documents usually would need to be certified by the relevant embassy or consulate and would also need to be translated into the local language.
The first thing we will need to check is what kind of documents will the university require and when they require it. In my case, Unicamp requested the student’s birth certificate, university diploma and academic transcript; all of which were to be translated into Portuguese and certified by the Brazilian Embassy in Jakarta. Then we must determine how much time we will have to complete the process for documentation. Considering the fact that Indonesia has quite a lot of national holidays, and also the fact that some embassies also have additional holidays in accordance with their own national regulations, some of this time may be significantly cut. In my case, the documentation process was delayed due to Christmas and New Year holidays (of which most people at the Brazilian Embassy in Jakarta enjoyed a 2-week long break). Bear these dates in mind when building your timeline.
The next thing we will need to check is what the relevant embassy requires in order to have such documents certified. Generally, the embassy will ask that the documents shall be firstly certified by the Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Please take note whether or not the embassy will require to certify original documents (as is the case at the Brazilian and Dutch embassies). If so, also enquire whether it is possible to submit a notarized version of the documents instead.
The certification process at both ministries will require at least 3 days each (using the ‘official’ route of doing things yourself without the help of ‘agents’). The requirements for certification at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be seen on here; however, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights did not have an accessible web link for the requirements for certification at their ministry. Alas, fear not! Many former students have blogged about these requirements hence it should not be too difficult for young, intelligent individuals such as yourselves to find them 😉
2. Visa Requirements. This may not be applicable for those of you who are going to study in ASEAN countries, or other countries which do not subject Indonesians to apply for visas (they trust us!) so you guys can skip this step (lucky you!). For those of you who are not so fortunate, the visa process may also be something that can keep you up at night.
Obviously, the first thing we need to check are the requirements for visa application. These would be available on the embassy websites; however, it is also good to check to the embassy itself as it is possible that they may require additional information which are not included on the website. For example, the Brazilian embassy in Jakarta required me to submit the contract between myself and Unicamp, which encompasses information regarding my scholarship, accommodations and insurance. If you’re self-funding your studies, usually embassies will require some kind of evidence of financial conditions (e.g. bank statements of parents). Some embassies may require more stringent documents, some may require less. Embassies usually also request Police Clearance documents which can be taken care of in one day or two at maximum. I took care of mine at the South Jakarta Police Department then at the Jakarta Metropolitan Region Police Department, both of which took me one day. Be very precise of the requirements, including the timeline to prepare them!
3. Arrival. Just a fair warning first: cellphone roaming does not always work. When you have arrived at a foreign country, you will need to get yourself from the airport to the place assigned by your university. If you took Felix Felicis (pardon the Harry) before you landed, then you will have someone waiting for you to ensure your safe arrival. However, some of us are not as privileged. So the first thing we need to do is to get into contact with your program coordinator (or other contact persons as provided by the university). My first despair upon arrival in Guarulhos Airport was the fact that my cellphone did not work at all and that the Brazilians at the airport (even at the information desk, of all places) did not speak English. To ensure that you will not have such a fate, contact your cellphone provider and see if they have roaming options. Better yet, research the possibilities of buying a local sim card at the airport. Although this seems petty, also have some local cash on hand so you can purchase the cards or even use a telephone booth.
4. You made it! Now that you’ve arrived safe and sound, there is one more thing you need to remember: have fun! Whether you’re studying quantum physics, economics or art, the most important thing to remember while studying abroad is to enjoy the country that you are at and that you have a limited time to enjoy it. Make the most of it! One more thing: do not forget that we are all ambassadors for Indonesia while we are abroad so brush up on your geography and wear that batik like a crown!