If you want to study abroad or just get away from your parents, you probably believe it will be a simple move. It is a lot of fun, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is definitely not simple.
It was much harder than I had thought for me to move from California (US) to Frankfurt (Germany), however the learning curve is quick. Here are five difficulties with studying abroad that you should be ready for while applying, moving to, and living in a foreign country for those of you who intend to do so.
No matter where you are from or where you are going, it is almost a certainty that on sometimes, you’ll feel alienated. You could be perplexed as to why your espresso always seems to be more expensive than that of the locals or why everyone is laughing while you are unaware that a joke has been told. Even while it’s uncommon to intentionally make someone feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in most countries, trying to adapt to new cultural norms might be difficult at first. Don’t let this depress you. Although I may never truly “become one of them,” practically everyone I have ever met while studying abroad has been wonderfully supportive and kind, so ultimately this challenge becomes less of a problem.
The most evident difficulty of studying abroad is undoubtedly this. Overcoming a language barrier could involve starting from scratch to learn a new language or it might simply involve believing you were fluent but finding it difficult to grasp the strong local accent.
There are always obstacles to overcome even if you are studying in a place where your languages are similar. For instance, trendy or popular slang will sound weird. The terms “crazy,” “balling,” “radical,” and “intense” have no meaning to non-Americans (or non-Californians). However, all can be used to signify “great” among the locals.
It can be difficult to adjust to currency variations. For instance, I had to keep in mind that 500 Costa Rican colones equal one US dollar when I was there. Additionally, I have to keep in mind that in continental Europe, $1 actually equals $1.40 USD.
Work out a rapid conversion technique for yourself so you can mentally calculate prices when buying stuff. You should also learn what the “average” price is for basic necessities by asking the locals.
Currency differences are one of those issues that don’t really harm if you are only visiting for a short time, but do have a significant influence if you are studying there for an extended period of time.
Living abroad is great when things are going smoothly. You may, however, feel completely alone if it seems like the gods are working against you. Family and friends who often serve as your “support network” will be located hundreds to thousands of kilometres away. You’ll learn how crucial they are today, even if you weren’t aware of it before.
This difficulty will probably be felt most acutely during the initial months of studying abroad. However, in a year or so, you will develop a new support system, and everything will be OK.
As a visitor, you are unfamiliar with the customs and traditions of your host country as well as all of its unwritten laws (though hopefully you have some idea of what they are). Let’s be clear about one thing: you will make mistakes, some of which may be unpleasant. Be confident; avoid repeating cultural misunderstandings by learning from them. Again, after a year or so, you will become familiar with all of these tiny unwritten agreements.
One illustration is the pressure you should use during a handshake; this varies greatly from nation to nation. In the US, it’s traditional to shake hands firmly but not painfully. A person can come out as weak if their handshake isn’t bone-crushing. The same is not true in many regions of Europe or Asia, where a vice-like handshake might come across as impolite or obnoxious.
It’s simple to avoid many cultural misconceptions by paying attention to what and how other people do things. Ask if you’re unsure. The majority of individuals will be delighted to discuss their traditions with you and will take pleasure in imparting their intimate knowledge.
Although this list can sound frightening, don’t be concerned! It sounds much more difficult than it is. I’m reminded of the proverb “failing your way to achievement.” That is a remark that I believe all individuals who have studied abroad can relate to. We have all experienced failure in at least some of these areas, including filling out university applications, locating housing, and figuring out social standards.
However, if you persevere through the difficulties, everything will turn out for the best. If nothing else, you’ll have plenty of tales to share at gatherings about the time you were forced off a train at 12:30 in the morning due to a mistake on your ticket… with no more trains arriving for four hours… Yes, it was awful.
Have you had any of these difficulties when studying abroad? In the comments section below, share your experience.