Feeling alone in a land far away from home is how many international students feel while studying abroad.
While studying overseas, you are bound to face difficulties and experience several challenges. But that should not stop you from a fruitful and enriching once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Here are some problems you might face while studying overseas and how to cope with them.
Let’s face it, language barriers are the reality of studying abroad. It’s a challenge every day navigating your way with limited foreign language knowledge.
So, what do you do? Use your phone to equip yourself with multiple translation apps!
For example, if you are studying abroad in Portugal and need to learn Portuguese, your best bet would be to learn from Duolingo and Babbel.
Or you can try interacting with the locals to brush up on your communication skills!
Money Exchange Struggles
Taxes, conversion rates, and getting overcharged; are some of the money exchange problems you might face during your stay abroad.
So, it is good to be more aware and gain more insight into currency exchange rates and standard prices in the country you are heading off to.
How do you do this?
Do your research. Not only just searching the internet, but you should also speak to relatives or friends who’ve visited that country.
Remember to always calculate your expenditure and check your receipts during your stay.
While overseas, you are primarily independent and have the freedom to do whatever you like (yay, freedom!). So, it is no wonder why you might splurge a little too much.
No one can blame you for that. Even so, it is your responsibility to manage your expenses and savings, at least until you return home.
Here’s how to conquer it. First, look into getting a job that can fit your school’s schedule if you need that extra cash.
Set a daily budget and save at least 20% of your income monthly as reserves. Check your bank every week to ensure that you are not overspending.
Be highly conscious of your spending and try to purchase only necessities instead of desires (needs vs wants).
Every country has its own cultural and social norms.
While at home, what seems normal for you might not be so in the country you are going to study in. It could be something simple like a greeting or how the locals eat.
So, observe the locals while you are there, and try to immerse yourself in their culture.
Soon, you will adjust and start to understand the culture. You also become more aware of ‘unwritten rules’ in the day-to-day things that are not obvious to foreigners.
It feels daunting when you are in a foreign land, with people speaking a foreign language, and nothing feels like home.
But that is part and parcel of studying abroad.
This way, you learn to be self-reliant and gain overseas experience away from under your parents’ wings.
But I get it; it is overwhelming, especially during your first month there.
So here are some ways to overcome homesickness:
– Involve yourself in extra-curricular activities (like clubs or interest groups)
– Call or text your family and friends (Take note of time zones)
– Try to find a taste of home such as familiar cuisines or activities
– Make new friends
Finally, the final chapter of your study abroad nears. You completed your studies and can finally go home to your family and friends.
Just that, you don’t want to leave now.
You have fallen in love with this new place. You love the freedom you gained! The new friendships you’ve made, new memories, and gained new experiences.
Remember that returning home is just part of the experience. Coming home lets you see how you have grown over the time spent overseas.
And don’t forget, you can always return!
Going overseas to study can be intimidating and full of uncertainties. You are alone and bound to face many challenges.
But these experiences all serve as an opportunity for you to grow and develop your own independence.
Now that you know what to anticipate.
Take the struggles in your stride and focus on the most important thing – having fun! Enjoy your semester abroad!