There are certain challenges that students face when they plan to study abroad or throughout their years in college. Surely, you have received a lot of great, yet not so insightful advice. The best recommendations can only be delivered by those who have gone through it themselves. So, read below some of my own confessions (those that no one talks about), that will make your student life definitely much easier.
1. Make friends who are locals!
It is exciting to meet as many people from different cultures and backgrounds on an international campus. Exchanging your cultural differences is delightful without any doubt, but it can get you distracted from making some local friends as well. This is something that many students come to regret not doing since it is extremely beneficial when they study abroad. Being friends will locals will help you discover many fascinating places in the city you are living in. I cannot count the times I have been surprised by the mesmerizing hidden corners that locals showed me. I am pretty sure I would’ve missed out on a lot of them were it not for those friends, like places with magnificent views, cool coffee places or bars, fun clubs, near-by cities worth visiting, etc. But, they also gave me important advice on things like transportation, safety, their culture’s customs, and unspoken rules or other tips on how to get around some of the challenges the city had.
2. Deal with homesickness. (Especially for International Students who Study Abroad)
No matter for how long you have been waiting for the moment you leave home to study abroad, homesickness is unavoidable. At some point or another, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the feeling of missing your home, friends, and family. But, the first thing you need to know is that this is OKAY! Do not be ashamed, but rather think of ways to make yourself at ease again. The best way I believe from experience is to talk to someone and express your feelings and thoughts. This is why Genie Consulting offers confidential Counseling sessions you can book in order to overcome the feeling of homesickness or anything else that is psychologically bothering you.
3. Avoid having too much fun!
Fun is always an inseparable part of the college years, and of course, you should have lots of it. But, there is a threshold of having fun beyond the point that would be affordable, not only economically speaking, and it can result in damaging consequences. Stay away from illegal activities, or people who indulge in them. Do not drink excessively, or spend more than what is adequate for you. Also, don’t leave your studies behind for a fun night!
4. Learn the laws of the state you are going.
Laws differ not only from country to country but in the U.S. they also change from state to state. To avoid problems with the police, the immigration office, or the conduct counsel of your university, read the rules and laws carefully. Some other ones you can also learn by observing others around you, but it is very important to get educated and informed before you go there to skip any unpleasant experiences. As an international student who is moving to study abroad, there are numerous laws that could affect you! Don’t be one of the losers of this game!
5. Document everything!
Keep notes. More often than not, being part of exciting experiences will distract you from documenting them. Trust me – there will come a time when you wish you had pictures from all the places you visited, all the people you met and all the fun moments. It would be even better if you also kept a journal. Write all the new things you try, the moments that have an impact on you. Write about your thoughts and feeling, and the way you perceive all that is going on in your life. Five, ten or more years from now you will be grateful to your past self for documenting this unforgettable time of your life!
6. Plan your packing to be light and smart!
Before leaving home to study abroad, you might get caught up in other distressful things and not put a lot of thought into the packing process. Yet, it is a very important one! Packing too heavily will be a pain in the neck, even though it is instinctive for most people. Take the most comfortable shoes and clothes you have, since you will be traveling a lot. Also, check the weather of the city you will be living in, to avoid unnecessary clothes. Don’t take toiletries that you can buy when you arrive there, since they are not expensive. Check the luggage restrictions of your airline and weigh it when you finish packing everything! Also, don’t forget to bring a travel adapter with you. It might take you some time to find one, and your phone battery might not be very cooperative…
7. Have an open mind!
Culture shock is a real thing. You might feel it even as soon as the plane lands and the instinctive reaction for you will probably be to feel anxious about this change. But, what you should do instead is embrace this shock! Set your mind to be open, to immerse itself in the wonders of a new culture. Try exploring as many aspects of it as you possibly can. Visit cultural sites, learn about the country’s history, try local dishes, and familiarize yourself with the area. In the end, you will be enriched in ways you might have not even imagined.
I promised you I would give you some tips you couldn’t find anywhere else! What I would love in return, is to hear about your own experiences. Share your challenges, and what ways did you find to go overcome them. How did the experience of studying abroad change you, and what helped you to make the best out of it as an international student?
Now, as a small gift for those who read the blog until the end, I have attached a Study Abroad Guide for 2021, which you can download by clicking below.