Due to the advancements in education and daily living, developed countries like the USA, Australia, and the UK have become global capitals for higher education. Every year, thousands of students travel abroad from their home countries to pursue various courses of study. However, traveling to a different country in a different environment presents challenges. Following are some dos and don’ts which will prove essential in guiding students who plan to study abroad.
1. Explore and accept the changes
When you study abroad, your aim should not be restricted to completing a certain course or a degree. Studying abroad provides a lot of opportunities to explore the culture of a new country. Exploring a new place will not only rejuvenate your mind, it will also increase your learning capacity.
There is this one thing called ‘cultural shock’ which you might witness if it’s your first time abroad. The magnitude of cultural and other changes will sometimes seem overwhelming, but if you prepare your mind to accept them, you will start enjoying the change.
Tip: Exploring the area in which you live, familiarizing yourself with the routes, and discovering favorite places will help you develop a sense of belonging to your new surroundings.
2. Meet new people
Another thing to do when you study abroad is to meet new people, preferably the local citizens. Meeting locals is the best way to learn new languages. It will also help you in gaining more knowledge about the local area apart from touristy things.
Tip: Start off by interacting with your neighbors and other locals where you live. Try and help elder people in small chores and they will be endeared to you in no time. A simple “hi” while jogging or walking in the morning will also do wonders.
3. Say yes to challenges
The more you accept challenges, the more you will be able to explore your capacity to overcome them. Sometimes, students form a comfort zone around themselves and don’t come out of it. Coming out of your comfort zone to try new things can be the biggest challenge when studying abroad.
Tip: In addition to new food, try new activities and hobbies as well . Don’t be afraid of failing as sometimes; failure teaches us more than success often does.
4. Eat inexpensive and healthy food
Enjoying fast food once in a while is not a bad idea, but including it into your every day diet is a will result in you acquiring the legendary ‘freshman 15’. Nothing can be more foolish than spending huge amounts of money on food which is not healthy.
Tip: Cooking your own meals will help you in save money and avoid fast-food. You can always find recipes for tasty salads and soups on the internet.
5. Work and earn
Working while studying is not only good for your pocket, but is also beneficial for you in terms of putting interesting experience on your resume. Getting a part-time job will help you in generating pocket money, and it will also teach you how to balance work with your studies. Even if it’s job working as a waiter, it will be worth it as you will earn not only money but also a taste of practical life.
Tip: Talk to your college study abroad office to learn if there are any rules, requirements, or restrictions for foreign students working in the country you will be visiting.
6. Keep your documents accessible
An important rule which you must never forget: always keep your documents handy. Some documents like identity papers/cards are best kept on your person at all times. The other important documents must be kept somewhere safe where you can access them whenever you require.
A simple step to keep documents safe and accessible is to put them into a waterproof folder or bag and keep them categorized, so that if you need a certain document you won’t have to extract all of them.
Tip: It is also a good idea is to keep scanned hard and digital copies saved with you. You can save the digital copies on your email, but make sure your you have proper passwords in place for security in case your computer goes missing.
7. Save the memories
It may sound a little amusing, but memories do matter. Save your experiences and memories by keeping a journal or an album of photos.
Here are some things to avoid when studying in a foreign country.
8. Don’t find birds of the same feather
Don’t close yourself into a bubble with people from your home country. Restricting yourself in this way denies you opportunities to learn more about your new surroundings and also about your own self.
9. You are not going to Mars
When packing for your journey, don’t go on packing your house! Remember, you are not going to Mars—you can always buy items like shampoo, soaps, and brushes. So, pack only things which you won’t be able to get in the new place.
10. Don’t miss classes
Don’t forget the reason why have you journeyed so far away from home: to pursue higher education. It won’t help if you start missing classes and other study-related activities. Many students miss orientation sessions or stay unfocused in them which is a bad idea because the orientation sessions are very informative.
11. 24/7 home updates are a bad idea
There is no denying the fact that maintaining contact with your family is important, but if you try to keep yourself updated about all the happenings back home, you will only make yourself more vulnerable to homesickness.
Studying abroad can become one of the best and most memorable experiences you will ever have. Get the most out of it and go “break a leg!”
Jessie Yarrow is a passionate blogger from India. She writes articles on various topics such as Education, gadgets, travel…etc. As of now she is focusing on Univariety, which provides career counselling for college students. The organization also helps school students in career exploration and planning.