Many students have the dream to study abroad during their time in education. Whether it’s for six months, a whole year or longer, there’s nothing like the idea of chucking yourself into the deep end of another culture and experiencing an amazing place in all its glory.
However, as with anything in life, studying abroad doesn’t come without its problems. From missing home to a complete absence of motivation, the life of an international student can be both tricky and highly rewarding.
To have the best time, it’s important to remember that any little setbacks are just that and it doesn’t have to ruin your entire trip. Today, we’ll explore several of the most common challenges so you can be prepared.
This is by far the most common of all the challenges that international student face. As much as you won’t like to admit it, you’re going to miss your mom and dad. You’re going to miss your friends, your house and your pets.
You’re going to have these feelings when you go away, as does anyone who’s away from their home for a long period of time. The only way to conquer it is to keep going and wait for the feelings to pass. Try exploring a new activity or hobby to take your mind off these feelings, many of which won’t last longer than a couple of days.
Money & Budgeting
You could spend many weeks before your trip and many hours every week making sure that you’re well budgeted while living abroad but that doesn’t mean you can plan for every eventuality. You never know when an unexpected bill might pop up or you need to spend more one month that you allowed for.
To combat this issue, you’ve just got to stay smart. It might be worth taking up a part-time job to help pay the bills. Whatever happens, make sure you’ve got enough money at all times to get yourself home.
Sonya Wyatt, a student living in Italy for year while freelancing for Australian Reviewer, shares:
“If you’re starting to get low on money, there’s no reason to panic. Instead, look into what opportunities you have available. You might be able to take up a bit of freelance work in your free time to help cover the bills.”
Concentrate on Your Education
Once you arrived in another country and settle in, you’ll start to spend your time exploring. However, once you start exploring, it can be extremely difficult to stop. Once you’ve got the travel bug, it doesn’t let go easily.
In some cases, this can cause students to miss out on classes and feel very unmotivated to go to class. However, it’s important that to do so. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on your education which will set you back further down the line.
Fear of Missing Out
When you log on to your social media profiles, the chances are you’ll see pictures of your friends hanging out and doing things together and it’s going to make you feel lonely and suffer from a condition known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
The only way to get over this is to minimize your time on social media. Your friends aren’t going to stop hanging out and doing things just because you’re not there. You’re in another country! Go out, explore and enjoy your experience!
Using Tools to Learn the Language
As mentioned above, there are many resources out there that can help you to learn the language quickly. Since you’re a student, this is important as you’ll need to understand people and processes from around your school or college. To help you out, here is a list of tools to help to make learning the language easier.
- Via Writing – An online blog with materials and resources on learning writing in another language, such as the importance of grammar.
- Academadivisor – A service that can help you gather information to complete your assignments.
- State of Writing – An online blog full of resources to teach you how to improve your writing skills while in college.
- Cite It In – A tool for helping you format your school work professionally, such as including important quotes and references.
Feelings of Loneliness
It’s common to feel like an outsider when you’re living in your new country. You look around and you’ll see families, locals and other school or college students all hanging out. It can very easily feel like you’re alone in your new city or town. Depending on where you’ve travelled to, due to your nationality or skin color, you may well stand out from the crowd, making you feel even more out of place.
However, you need to remember that many of the people around you are happy to have you in their culture. Of course, you’re going to feel like a stranger to everyone and everything to begin with because you are. Once you start to become accustomed to the processes of everyday life, you’ll start to feel a lot more at home.
One of the most obvious problems you’ll encounter is the language barrier. Whether you’re in school or college, at home, on the street, at a restaurant or wherever, the language barrier is going to crop up here and there.
Always bear in mind that the best way to learn a language is by living in a country where everybody speaks it. You’ll pick up the words so much faster as you’re constantly surrounded by it. It’s highly advised that you also proactively try and learn the language.
You can do this using books, smartphone apps or translation software on your computer. Try and speak as much of the language as you can and use every opportunity while you’re out and about to have a conversation. Don’t feel embarrassed as more times than not; people will try and help you out with what you’re trying to say.
Cordelia Abel, an ESL teacher for Student Writing Services, states;
“It can be extremely daunting when you’re trying to learn a new language, especially when everybody around you speaks it so fluently. When making friends in college, get them to teach you from their own personal knowledge.”
Never Wanting to Go Home
Once you’ve settled past the fear and homesickness stages, your new foreign country home will start to become your comfort zone over time. As you grow to love a certain city or place, it will start to feel like home, and you might find that you never want to leave.
Not only this, but you’ll also find that you have become a lot more confident in your abilities with new found feelings of independence and responsibility. When it finally comes time to come home, the trick is not to return to the way you were before but to bring these newly discovered feelings and motivation back with you into your everyday life.
Rachel Summers is a freelance writer whose passion is helping students get the most out of their learning journey. She started out as a writer and journalist in the newspaper industry, including UK Top Writers, before breaking out to go freelance and follow her own passions. Her writing is designed to help you get the most out of college. You can find her blog here.