Being an international student can be tough at times. Whether your simply crossing your countries border or travelling half way across the world to study at a university, being away from home is challenging especially to teenagers and young adults. You feel homesick at times, it may be difficult adapting to a new culture, and quite frankly having to adjust to a different environment while having to keep up with your academic responsibilities can be demanding at times. With this being said, the benefits of travelling abroad to study at university are countless and most of the time outweigh the negative parts of it. As someone who has spent the last three years away from home studying at university, I can safely say that choosing to do so was one of the best decisions I’ve made. In this article we will explore what being an international student is like and what you should expect when studying abroad.
The biggest tip when choosing to study in a different country is to do your research. Packing up your belongings and travelling away from home is a big decision so you want to make sure that you choose wisely on the place that you’ll be spending the next few years of your life. Make sure you research the different university options that you have. Check out the different programs and resources that schools have to offer because chances are that some schools will offer what you want to study whilst others may not. Some factors that are important to keep in mind when selecting a university include: tuition costs, programs that are offered, student housing options, admission requirements, quality of life and much more. Researching potential schools to study in is important but make sure you take your research beyond that. Look up some of the cities that you would like to live in so that when you finally choose your next home you won’t be completely lost upon your arrival. Look up the popular tourist destinations, cool restaurants, and anything that might interest you. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not only going abroad for the education, but also for the experience and that includes exploring new places. Once you feel like you’ve done enough research on potential universities narrow down your list to schools that you see yourselves studying in and begin applying.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges an international student will encounter in university is the culture shock. Culture shock is a sense of confusion when experiencing a new culture, but don’t be scared this is completely normal! Just think about it, you’ve spent your entire life or at least most of it in experiencing once culture. You grew up surrounded with people who spoke the same language as you, ate the same foods, and had the same mannerism. Now, all of a sudden, you’re submerged in a completely different way of life in which everything is different from the music to the food to the language and maybe even the clothing. From my experience, the best way to deal with culture shock is simply accepting it. Embrace the new culture in the most positive way you can. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace your own culture and forget where you came from, but instead simply yourself up to new experiences and let yourself discover a new world because that’s one of the biggest benefits of studying abroad. Also, a good tip to keep in mind is that if your studying at a large university then chances are that there is a club at the school made up of kids from your nationality. A lot of schools in Canada and the United States have clubs such as the French Student Club, or the Chinese Student Club which are essentially clubs made up of students from that nationality or students who are interested in the nationality. This is a great way for you to meet people from your home and feel less homesick.
Travelling overseas to continue your academic pursuits is a major decision but also a very rewarding one. It can be a life changing experience for many that can possibly lead you to bigger and better opportunities that you may not have back home. Deciding to become an international student is a big step and despite some of the difficulties that may come with it, the experience as a whole is worth it. From the people you’ll meet, to the places you’ll see and the cultures that you’ll experience, all of this plus more is what awaits those who decide to take the leap and travel abroad for their university experience. At the end of the day it is up to you to make the best out of the experience and to turn the new city you’ll be living in into your second home.