A recent report has found that Australia is the most expensive place for overseas students to study, with the annual combined cost of fees and living expenses coming in at US$38000 ($41370).

Although the costs are high, this hasn’t put off overseas students from coming over; Australia remains one of the world’s most popular choices for international study. But as the influx of foreign students coming into Australia continues, maybe you or someone you know is thinking of going in the opposite direction, leaving Oz and studying away from home. So where’s the best choice?

Well, if you’re deciding based on the cheapest places, Germany’s a great bet. It has the lowest annual fees for international students of any country, at just US$635 ($691), and even when you factor in the cost of living, the annual total is a reasonable US$6285 ($6842). Spain, Taiwan, China and Russia are also attractive from a cost point of view, with fees and living expenses totalling under US$10000 ($10887). Studying in US and UK will cost international students a total of over US$30000 ($32661), with the UAE and Canada not far behind.

But, if it’s not all about the money, look at the culture, history and vibrancy of the countries and the courses’ reputations. Canada offers lively cities and masses of beautiful wildlife, China boasts a range of cuisines and cultures and Japan is known for its high standard of living. Meanwhile, Malaysia offers natural delights and proximity to Australia, and the US and UK boast some of the world’s highest regarded universities and courses. You may not have thought of studying in places like Indonesia, Jordan or Taiwan, but they all offer something different, and intrepid Aussie students may be attracted by going off the beaten track.

When you’ve decided where to go, do your research about your new home. Know the language and the customs, and learn about things like currency, transport and banking. Make sure your qualification will be accepted back in Australia, if you’re coming home. And if you’re prone to homesickness (it’s bound to hit you at some point), make sure you’ve got a connection to home, be it internet, Skype or a blog so everyone knows what you’re up to.

Consider your health and safety. Get a medical examination and any immunisations you’ll need before you go, and arrange health insurance. And think about whether you might want to work while you’re there; if you do, make sure you’ve got a visa or anything else you might need to put in place.

But wherever you go, whether it’s the relatively cheap Germany or the expensive USA, make sure you’re fully prepared. And, most importantly, enjoy it!