Studying Abroad as an International Student
Studying abroad can be a fun and exciting chapter of a person’s life. However, you must be fully prepared in order to get the best experience out of it. First, familiarize yourself with the country’s laws and customs. Plan ahead and avoid any risky behavior that could land you in a foreign country’s jail. Everyone will have a different experience, but by the simple process of preparing yourself, yours is bound to be a terrific one. The following will explain things to expect while studying abroad as an international student.
Some programs may require you to live with a family, while others will let you room with students on campus or let you handle your own housing needs. Living with a family or native students is the best way to learn more about the culture and the roles family members play. If you end up living with a family, don’t expect to be considered family right away. Your interactions together may be more formal and reserved until both parties have gotten to know the other better. Also, students living with a family should remember that their own family isn’t perfect, and they shouldn’t expect their host family to be either. Accept them for who they are and expect the same from them. Another benefit your host family has is when it’s time for you to make a large purchase. While you may recognize a brand you believe makes high-quality products, your host family can suggest what stores or other brands they prefer.
You’ll probably experience a level of culture shock when you arrive, but after the first week things will become more normal for you. Students might try and incorporate themselves into the new culture by taking on a new hobby that is popular in their new country. For example, a college student may come to America and decide to play football, which is different from their country’s dominant sport, soccer. Unfortunately, every country has its own perceptions of those from around the world. When studying abroad, expect others to ask if those things are true. Keep in mind that while you’re here to learn about a different culture, you can teach others about yours as well.
Students studying abroad typically need to know the language the host country speaks. Not knowing the language could affect your academics as well as your social life. If you’re taking classes, you’ll need to know enough of the language to keep up with the lectures and readings. Of course, you’re going to learn more about the language during your stay and will probably become more fluent. To get the most out of your host country, speak its native language as much as possible. Watch television in that language as well. You might be amazed with how much you pick up even when you think you’re already fluent.
Schools abroad may teach differently than what you’re used to as well. In America, there are a lot of quizzes, tests, mid-terms, and papers while other countries may base your success solely by the final exam. The age of students may also vary depending on where you’re studying. Americans generally start studying their main subject later than those in other countries.
Throughout your stay, you’re bound to go through a rollercoaster of emotions. The first few weeks of your visit will be exciting and invigorating where everything about your host country is great. Then some time will pass and the novelty will start to wear off. After this, you may start to feel irritable, lonely, and frustrated. Many study abroad students say they want to go home during this time as they were incredibly home-sick. Luckily, these feelings fade and start to get better over time. Once you become more adjusted you’ll start to enjoy your host country again. When your study abroad program has finished and it’s time to go home, you may not even want to leave. When returning home, you could through the same up and downs you encountered during the first few weeks in your host country. Just like before, these feelings will pass over time.
There are some tips to keep in mind when studying abroad. First, you need to remain flexible, as living in a different culture may prove to be more difficult than you originally thought. Keeping a sense of humor can help you adjust. Don’t just sit inside and learn the host country’s culture by sitcoms. Get out there and interact with the natives. Not only will this help you get through any rough times, it’ll make you more comfortable with the people and surroundings. Next, don’t ignore the local attractions. Go watch a play or visit a museum. Don’t forget to visit gardens, ballets, or monuments. Most importantly, follow your host country’s laws. Of all things, you don’t want to end up in a strange country’s jail due to lack of judgment.
Take advantage of the weekends to get any travel time in. Many places offer student discounts making it easier for you to see other parts of the country other than the city you’re living in. Go by yourself or take a friend, both will leave you with numerous memories to take home. Visit local markets and learn about the local cuisine, currency values, products, in addition to the local culture. Although seeing other parts of the country can be exciting, remember what your main purpose for going was. Set academic goals and follow them throughout your visit. While studying abroad is meant to be fun for the student, its main purpose is still education.
Keeping a journal and writing in it throughout your visit could be the best way to examine how you’re truly feeling about your host country and natives. It’s also a great way to relive your experiences years from now while reading through it. You may also find it enjoyable to see how you changed from beginning to end with your reactions or opinions to your surroundings.
Although you hope for the best, you may not have the best time while studying abroad. Usually, you may just have a bad day or week, which will eventually pass. Unfortunately, some may not enjoy their time at all in their host country. Either way, one day you’ll look back at the good times and, if anything, have great stories to tell. If you’re having a hard time adjusting, most schools have counselors that are familiar with problems study abroad students tend to face. Using this service could change a horrible experience into one of the best.
Want some more information on studying in another country? Then, visit International Student.com, where you can find information about studying in the USA, UK and Australia.