Have you always wanted to study abroad and decided to finally bring this dream to life this year?
You’re not alone! Many students across the globe decide to leave their home countries in search of new learning opportunities. The U.S. alone welcomed one million international students in 2019-2020.
However, as exciting as studying abroad can be, it also brings along quite a few difficulties. Today, we’ll discuss these challenges and share a few tips on coping with them.
There’s no way around it - when you move to another country, you will experience homesickness in one form or another. Some people may feel sad for a day or two, while others struggle with adaptation for weeks.
How do you battle homesickness?
You don’t. The first and most important thing is to realize and accept this feeling as something absolutely normal. Here are a few other things that will help you distract from homesickness:
- Keep yourself busy. Participate in on-campus activities, sign up for extra classes, volunteer - do anything that will keep your mind away from negative emotions.
- Make your dorm room into a home. Bring candles, decorative pillows, window curtains, and cozy blankets that will make your room more inviting and home-like.
- Explore new surroundings. Make yourself familiar with the place where you’re living. After all, you’ll spend some time there, so it makes sense to get to know it better.
Also, don’t be afraid to talk about your homesickness with others. You’re not alone in this - finding other international students who share your worries will help you cope with homesickness better and get extra support.
Most universities require students to be pretty advanced in the language they are going to use for studying. But even when you know a language pretty well, it still won’t save you from experiencing a language barrier during the first few weeks.
A language barrier is a linguistic barrier in communication experienced by people who originally speak different languages. It can also be a psychological phenomenon based on differences in culture and behavioral norms.
How should you cope with a language barrier?
- Be straightforward. Sometimes, foreigners tend to use difficult language, not realizing that people don’t speak that in a foreign country. Try to use conversational, plain language if you’re afraid people won’t understand you.
- Watch how natives behave. Pantomiming the local’s behavior can help you adjust faster and build a rapport when speaking a foreign language.
- Sign up for courses. A foreign language course will provide you with resources to adjust to the new environment. Besides, you will lose your accent faster and learn how to sound like a native since you’ll be taught to by a native speaker.
The key to overcoming language barriers is staying open-minded to new opportunities. So, surround yourself with more activities that will expose you to the foreign language and culture.
It’s super easy to quickly run out of money when you’re abroad, mostly because you don’t know the local currency well yet. Moreover, most international students have to live on a strict budget since they have to pay a lot for the dorm, books, etc.
What can you do to improve your financial situation?
- Sign up for a financial management course. Marko at Whiteboard Finance has a great free YouTube course on creating monthly budgets and better managing your money.
- Learn exchange rates. Sooner or later, you’ll have to adapt to the local currency. Without that, you’ll always be short on cash.
- Get a part-time job. If you have time, you can dedicate some of it to freelancing or working at a local cafe, which will earn you some extra pocket money.
Whatever you do to improve your financial situation, make sure you avoid fraud. It is easy to fall victim to a scam when you’re new to the country. So, always ask for additional advice from locals you trust to make sure you stay safe.
The last but not least difficulty is adapting to local food. You may find local food hard to stomach since you’re used to something completely different or if you’ve followed a certain diet all your life. Even local water can upset your stomach.
So, what do you do?
- Take probiotics. There are probiotic meds available to you without prescription designed specifically to help your tummy adapt to the local foods.
- Change your diet gradually. If you expose yourself to unusual foods right away, it will only cause more discomfort.
- Buy groceries from trusted chains. Learn where locals buy food and choose stores that only sell clean organic produce.
If you follow a specific diet, make sure you ask your doctor for recommendations. They might give you a prescription to help your body adapt faster.
Studying abroad is exciting and stressful at the same time. You will have to face many challenges depending on the country you’re moving to, so you’ll have to prepare yourself for them before you move.
These four difficulties are only a few of many other challenges, but, as you can see, they are all manageable. All you have to understand is that you can and should ask for help when you need it. You will always find support at your local college or university.
Ryan is a passionate blogger and writer who likes sharing his thoughts and. Now he works as a content editor and internet researcher, you can check his website. He likes to travel and explore new countries.