Those of you who want to study abroad or simply get away from your parents usually believe it will be a simple move. I can tell you from personal experience that it is a lot more fun, but it is not easy.
My shift from the US to Germany was much more difficult than expected, but the learning was steep. So, for those of you planning to study abroad, here are five issues to be aware of when applying, moving to, and residing in a new nation.
1. The sensation of being an outsider
Regardless of where you are from or where you are going, you will almost certainly feel like an ‘outsider’ at least a portion of the time. You could question why your cappuccino always seems to be more expensive than the locals’, or why everyone is laughing when you didn’t realise anybody had cracked a joke.
Although it is rare that you would be judged negatively or unwelcome in most countries, adjusting to new cultural standards can be exhausting at first.
Don’t be discouraged by this. Almost everyone I’ve encountered while studying overseas has been really supportive and pleasant, and while I may never fully become “one of them,”
2. Overcoming a linguistic barrier
This is arguably the most visible of the difficulties associated with studying abroad. Overcoming the language barrier may imply that you’re trying to learn another language from scratch, or that you believed you were fluent but can’t comprehend the strong regional accent.
Even if you are studying in a place where you share a common language, you will face additional challenges. Popular or hip slang terms, for example, will appear weird. Non-Americans (or non-Californians) have no idea what the terms “crazy,” “balling,” “radical,” and “intense” mean. For locals, though, all may be used to signify “great.”
So the terms that pupils use will be challenging to acquire, but once absorbed, the language problem will disappear.
3. Acclimating to currency changes
Getting acclimated to monetary variations might sometimes be difficult. When I was visiting Costa Rica, for example, I had to recall that 500 Central American colones equal one US dollar. And in Europe, I have had to remember that €1 is equivalent to US$1.40.
Make a simple conversion method for yourself so you can mentally work out pricing when shopping and learn the “average” price for core products – for example, asking locals how much they’d anticipate to spend.
Currency disparities, like most of the obstacles of studying abroad, are like those things that don’t really hurt if you’re only visiting for just a short time, but have a major impact if you’re staying for just a semester or longer. Spend your euros as though they were dollars!
4. Being separated from your support system
Because everything is going well, living abroad is fantastic. But when the sky appears to be conspiring against you, you might truly feel alone. Your usual support network of friends and family will be thousands, if not hundreds of miles away. Even if you weren’t aware of their significance before, now is the time to learn.
This is especially likely to be impacted in the first few semesters overseas. But, in a year or so, you’ll have a different support network and it will be Ok!
5. Handling cultural misconceptions
As a foreigner, you are unfamiliar with the native customs and all of the unwritten regulations (ideally you are familiar with the established rules) of the host country. Let’s get one thing clear: everyone will make mistakes, some of which will be embarrassing. Don’t be ashamed; learn from cultural misunderstandings and avoid them in the future. Again, after a year or two, you will be familiar with all of these tiny unspoken agreements.
One instance is the level of stress you should apply to a handshake, which varies greatly between countries. A forceful, if not painful, handshake is usual in the United States. A guy with a poor handshake may be perceived as weak. In many regions of Europe and Asia, a person with such a cigar handshake may be seen as vulgar or overpowering.
Observing what others do and how they do it is a simple method to prevent many cultural misunderstandings. If you’re unsure, simply ask! Most individuals are eager to talk about their traditions and will gladly share their intimate knowledge with you.
This may appear to be a daunting list, but don’t worry! It sounds substantially more difficult.
It sounds a lot more difficult than it is. The expression “failing your way to success” comes to mind. I believe that phrase applies to everyone who has studied abroad. From university applications to finding a place to live and understanding social standards, we have all failed in some, if not all, of these areas.
But if you persevere, it’ll all work out – and but if anything, you’ll have plenty of tales to share at parties like the time you were ejected off a train at 12:30 a.m. and you had the wrong ticket… with no trains arriving for four hours… Yes, that was a disaster.
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