Studying abroad is one of the most exciting parts of a student’s life. However, students do face various challenges. Despite it being the perfect opportunity to travel, meet new friends, learn a new language, amongst many other things, for some, moving to another country isn’t an easy transition.
5 Common challenges students face abroad:
1. Language Barriers
One of the most common challenges of studying abroad is the language barrier. Perhaps you spent the last five years studying the language, but once you arrive to the country, it seems completely foreign to you. Locals are using slang you’re unfamiliar with, and several words can be used to describe one thing. Sometimes this makes you feel like an outsider, but take this as a learning opportunity. Most locals appreciate you trying to communicate with them in their native language. The more you practice your words, the more comfortable you will get with the language. And hey, coming home bilingual isn’t a bad thing!
2. Currency Differences & Finances
Trying to understand a different currency is another common challenge students face. You want to ensure you are familiar with the conversion this way you don’t end up spending more money than you should. Many countries include taxes in their prices, however, international students should be aware in North American countries, taxes are not included and so they must be calculated in addition to the price presented on the product.
Some international students may be lucky enough to have landed a scholarship, reducing the stress faced with budgeting. Other students will have to learn to properly manage their finances. Not having your family nearby to support you financially may cause you some stress, but again, take this as an opportunity to learn how to develop a budget and manage money.
3. Cultural Differences
Every country has different cultural standards. In addition to getting familiar with languages and currencies, you will have to adjust to the local culture. At home, you don’t realize the day to day things you do which may be unfamiliar to foreigners, the “unwritten rules.” Some examples may be handshakes and body posture. In one country, a firm handshake is normal, but in another country, it may be offensive. As with anything else, observe the locals and immerse yourself in their culture. You will eventually adjust and act just like a local.
It’s easy to begin feeling homesick when everything around you is so unfamiliar. You will miss the things you find comfort in, such as the couch in your living room and your annoying yet loving sibling. Remember, homesickness is a natural feeling and is expected when moving miles away from home, whether it is your first time living on your own or not. Don’t let it stand in the way of making your time abroad an incredible experience! Your family and friends will still be there when you get back, in fact, you can connect with them through technology. Get out and explore your area, you will quickly move past the homesick feeling.
5. Not Wanting to Leave
After overcoming all of these challenges, you will realize how much you truly love the country you’re in. When it’s time to leave, you will miss the locals, the food, and many of the small things like the cafe down the street. You will miss the freedom, the adventures, the challenges… leaving will be a challenge on its own. But you will be excited to come home and talk about your incredible experience abroad.