It can be a nerve-wracking experience to study abroad. For starters, you’re all by yourself in a foreign land with limited or no knowledge of the local language or culture. After you’ve landed in your preferred destination and when you’re done with mandatory 50 calls from your distressed mother, you’re all on your own. The trials of choosing to study abroad are many:
Feeling Like An Outsider
This is one of the first challenges that you will encounter when you study abroad. Regardless of what country you’re from and whatever country you study in, you’re bound to feel like an ‘outsider’ at some point or the other. Of course, you’ll find it difficult to get acclimatized to the weather; environment social circle etc because you see everything takes time. That said, you can’t be a deer in the headlights forever, right? You can hasten the process of integration with a few simple steps.
Just remember that you’re not alone in this emotion and that it is unlikely that you’re being deliberately cold-shouldered. Just try and learn as much as possible about the cultures and traditions of your host country before you take the flight to ensure that you know what lies ahead. Also, look for common interest groups in your educational institution where you might have the opportunity to meet like-minded folks. If you’re feeling homesick, you could also seek support groups for International students where you’re likely to meet folks who share the same language or culture as you. However, I recommend that you socialize with as many people as possible regardless of their background.
Overcoming The Language Barrier
This is one of the more obvious challenges that you’ll face when you study abroad but it is still a significant one. If you study in a certain country, it means that you’d have to spend at least a year or two in that country. Hence, you’d have to be able to conduct routine activities like using the public transport, buying groceries etc. Even if you’re studying in a country with the same language, you may still have trouble getting used to the accent. However, learning a new language entirely from scratch is not all that practical. However, you can always seek the help of a few local students who may be more than willing to guide you. That being said, it certainly doesn’t kill to learn a few simple phrases in the local language that you could use every day. Remember-self sustenance is the key and you must do everything necessary to be independent while you study abroad.
Now, this is one of the more normative challenges that you would have to encounter when you choose to study abroad. Money is the most important resource that you will require anywhere in the world. Hence, the first thing you must do before getting on that plane is to see how the currency in your country measures up with that of your host country.
If the currency of your host country has a higher value than that of your home country, then I suggest you convert to American dollars and then subsequently convert it to the currency of your host country. The cost of living in most countries has really hit the roof in recent years so you need to really be cognizant of currency when you’re going to study abroad especially for a significant period of time.
Building A Support Network
One of the requisites of choosing to study abroad is losing touch with your support network. You lose touch with family and friends when you’re miles away from them. However, human beings are social animals and hence, having a support network in itself is very integral especially when you study abroad. So, it is imperative that you seek out individuals whose company you appreciate and can look to whenever you require counsel. Unfamiliar places can be distressing and hence, it is important that you have a good circle of friends when you study abroad!
Overcoming Cultural Misunderstandings
If you’ve ever watched the movie Outsourced, then you’d know what I’m talking about. There is so much heterogeneity in the world as far as culture is concerned. Now I don’t believe you can completely assimilate into a foreign culture though you can certainly try! There is so much information available these days with the advent of technology. So try learning about your host culture as much as possible. You could also converse with local students and therefore, get to know more about the local culture. This would also widen your perspectives and how you view the world.
Travelling abroad can be hectic as it is. There are various challenges that you ought to prepare for when you choose to study abroad. However, with some prudence, these challenges could be overcome. So, being aware of the challenges of choosing to study abroad can take you a long way in distressing your stay. So ultimately you would be able to focus on the things that actually matter. Your studies!
Worried about studying abroad? Find out more: Best Things to Carry Abroad to Feel Less Homesick