Nothing can be called perfect (Not even fairy tales with happy endings), and in study abroad matters, it will not be counted without its problems. Although, it’s like a dream come true to study abroad, students often riddled with equal parts of excitement and worry. It is a perfect opportunity to meet and make new friends, travel the whole world, learn new language and culture, new experiences, and gain knowledge, and what not! But all that glitters are not gold; students do face various challenges while studying.
Whether it’s the cultural norms making you crazy, you are missing your home, or you are not able to concentrate in your studies, many international students experience a number of different challenges unique to their life abroad. Any sudden change in your routine will always result in a difficult period. You simply can’t expect to adopt the change and become used to it overnight.
It takes its own time, but that doesn’t mean that you will give up. Studying abroad is a life-changing opportunity that one shouldn’t miss or let go very easily.
You can work to prepare yourself for these challenges. By knowing what will come ahead, will help to prepare yourself with the necessary knowledge of how you can overcome the challenges. The best way to solve the problem is to face them. Read these 5 most commonly faced challenges you will face while going abroad for studies and how you can give 1-2-kick in the butt.
Though English is recognized as an international language, still the majority of students face difficulties in communication. The language barrier is the most common barriers one faces while studying abroad. These barriers are a reality of living abroad, as one can take it as a real learning opportunity. You may be struggling to learn a new language from scratch, or it could spend the last five years studying the language, but here you find that you’re unable to understand the strong local accent. They may use local slang that you’re unfamiliar with, and several words to describe one thing. But the more you allow communicating with them, the more you’ll learn the language steadily.
2. You need to do something
Familiarize yourself with local culture, norms, and people. Try to communicate with them on a regular basis. Also, one can carry around a translation dictionary and download any app on your smartphone. Don’t get fear of offending someone or speaking incorrectly. At the end of the day, they know that you’re a foreigner and it takes time to get fluent with one language.
3. Currency differences and finances
Every country has its own unique currency, and it is very important to learn about foreign currencies and exchanges. Unless a student shares a similar economy, it is very difficult for him/her to survive with those prices and sums that he hasn’t used at all. It becomes a serious problem when you’re opened to new rules and regulations, and you can’t even gauge value properly.
If this will continue then your finances are bound for disaster. For e.g. – when something costs €1 it is actually US$1.40. Make sure you learn the conversion system quickly, so you can mentally figure out prices when buying things. Also, some countries include taxes in their prices. But North American countries don’t include taxes, so finance your budget according to it.
4. You need to do something
Before leaving get full-knowledge of your host currency system. To finance your study program, set aside some extra bucks as home. Try to spend less on your leisure’s and keep an account of your expenditures. It will give you an idea about your expenses and then pump the breaks. If all fails, hit up the Bank of Mom and Dad for an advanced birthday gift or loan.
You may never believe that, but you will actually miss your annoying younger sister, or maybe your Mom’s scolding you for every bit, or maybe those mid-night chats with a friend. But yes, studying abroad is a perfect way that will make you feel homesick. Your usual support network of family and friends will be hundreds of miles away from you.
Even if you miss them or need them badly, you can’t do anything except make yourself happy with that one phone call or video call. It is the most difficult challenge especially for the first few months of studying abroad. But then, you will build up a new support network, and then everything will be OK!
6. You need to do something
Get involved in new interests like clubs or adventures with your new friends. You can find a taste of home by hitting up to the local Starbucks. Start practicing yoga, meditation, journaling, or other self-awareness activities. Don’t spend too much time on scrolling websites, that will actually feed feelings of homesickness, rather than eradicating them.
7. Cultural Misunderstanding
Going to a new country means coping with a new culture, norms, society, values, beliefs, morals, and all those unwritten rules. In order to befit in society, you should have some knowledge about your host cultures and its environment. At home, you don’t realize the day to day things you do which may be unfamiliar to foreigners like handshakes or body postures. Observe what local people do and how they do, if in doubt then just confront. It’s ok to confront the doubt then actually landing yourself into some big mistake.
8. You need to do something
Don’t be embarrassed if you make mistakes, learn from cultural misunderstandings, and don’t repeat them again. It might just take you a few weeks to adjust to this new land, but don’t worry you will make it. Try making friends, take efforts to establish meaningful relationships. It will help you and then you will start feeling safe and relaxed in the new country, instead of awkward.
9. Concentrate at academics
What’s the topic? – Studying abroad! It’s called “study abroad” for reason, and what requires the most is an academics effort from the students. Since you here for a purpose, it is very important that you stay committed to your classes or you might lose your scholarship, your grade point average, or get kicked out of your program.
You may be addicted to the great, big, and beautiful scenery out there and thinking what you’re doing in a lecture hall. Do not indulge yourself in this. Nonetheless, you are investing a lot of time and money in the journey, don’t waste it wanderings around the city.
10. You need to do something
Your classes complement your exploring. You should do everything in your power to soak up as many new and exciting experiences as you can. But don’t let that temptation completely overshadow the great opportunity to learn something new. Try to balance out between your leisure and necessities.