However appealing it may sound, studying abroad is not all glitz and glam. There’s a huge mental, physical and economical price attached! But it’s without a doubt one of the best things that could happen to you. The benefits of such an experience are endless, but in order to enjoy it to its full potential there are a few things you need to pay attention to.
1) Make good friends
Quality over quantity at all times! It doesn’t matter how many friends you have unless you have the right once. The people you choose to be around can make or break you, especially when you’re so far away from your normal habitat. Give yourself time to adjust and choose wisely!
2) Take care of your health
It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when it comes to taking care of yourself when living alone in a strange country. Getting sick and getting treated in a foreign country is a horror movie on its own. You don’t know the doctors, you don’t know the system and sometimes not even the language!! That’s why the best motto for you is “prevention is better than cure”. But if you do get sick don’t back down from getting required treatments. Ask help from a friend or colleague and make sure you know where the closest hospital or treatment center is as soon as you get there.
3) Make an effort to learn the native language
A few words will go a long way!! Whether it is to ask for directions, make a new friend or to get yourself the needed treatment, knowing a few simple words from the native language can help you more than you will ever know. You don’t need to be a pro at it, just learn enough to convey your message clearly.
4) Respect the local traditions and customs however they may seem weird or different.
In most cases we end up in places which are worlds apart from what we are accustomed to. But know that we are in no place to judge any of the local customs and traditions. Respect them, open your heart to these new things and this will help you to enjoy your time and make it more comfortable. Don’t be afraid to experience new things, you only live once!
5) Don’t go in with a preconceived image
Every foreign student goes through a phase of comparing once country to the new country, some more than others. It’s a normal reaction but do not let yourself get dragged too deep in to it, because this state of mind may take you away from all the good things the new country has to offer.
6) Deal with homesickness
You’re going to miss home, it’s a fact!! It’s going to hit you hard to a point where it’s going to be physical pain. But know that it’s all normal and that everything is going to be okay eventually. Don’t postponed your feelings, don’t bottle them up or cover them up. Go ahead and express them in the way you feel most comfortable in. You can cry, take up a dance class, make new friends, go for a walk whatever your method is just don’t get yourself stuck in a bubble losing the chance to experience what’s in front of you.
7) Make a home not a living shack
I know it’s hard to decorate your living area or even make up your mind to buy furniture because you know you will be leaving sooner or later. But let’s make the present situation more comfy and pleasant to live in shall we? Go and buy whatever that would make you feel at home, start doing chores like cooking or cleaning that would help you settle down and also help you to improve your living standards. You don’t have to go all out and splurge on furniture or décor, just find things that might help you to feel at home.
8) Don’t over react
It’s easy to get addicted to the bad habit of over reacting when living alone. Knowing that you have to go solo when facing different situations that are thrown at you can be scary and to add to this you have a bit of spare time fired by a wild imagination. Try your best to hold off the panic button until you really need it and even then stay calm and work your brains first.
9) Document hassle
Anyone who has lived abroad knows the emotional and physical torture you have to go through if your documents are not properly organized. Invest in a binder and maintain it properly and keep Xerox copies of everything from your visas to tuition bills. You never know when they will come in handy. And trust me they will!!
10) Be mindful and responsible of your expenses.
It’s so easy to lose trek of your expenses when alone, and by the time you realize this you might be in a bit of a pickle. You don’t need to keep trek of every penny you spend (good if you have the composure to do so!), but a rough idea about where you are financially can help you to balance how you spend and help to pay the bills on time.
11) Don’t be too hard on yourself
Living abroad and on your own has its own learning curve. It takes time and patience. So give yourself time to adjust! Mistakes will happen but don’t chain yourself on those minor details. Look at the bigger picture, your living on your own in a foreign country and killing it, Give yourself the due credit!!
12) Don’t be afraid to make memories
Lastly but most importantly seize all the opportunities you can to make great memories and make the most of your adventure!
Got any tips and tricks you learnt while studying abroad? Tell them to the world in the comments section below! you never know you might just save a poor soul from a few traumatic moments 🙂