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The Common Challenges Students Face When Studying Abroad

Many of us dream of travelling world, exploring everything that this planet has to offer while embarking on the journey of a lifetime. This may seem like a pipe dream to some but to others, this is dream is transformed into a goal that is well within grasp. I’m talking about students. Studying abroad is one of the most fulfilling life-changing experiences you can ever undertake which is why an increasing number of students are getting involved every year.

So, you’ve planned your destination, you’ve enrolled in your course and you’re getting ready to explore the Great Unknown. Now what? Well, as with all things in life, studying abroad doesn’t come without its problem. To give you a head start so you can make the best out of your experience, here is a list of common problem most migrant students face and how to deal with them effectively.
Hand reaching out to study abroad concept

Feeling Alone

Easily the most common problem with students travelling abroad, it’s easy to feel like you’re an outsider. The people around you may be speaking another language and, until you know your way around, it can be difficult to build up the initial confidence to ask the locals any questions. It’s important to remember that, no matter what, most countries will welcome you to their country and there’s no reason to feel intimidated.

As with any change in life, you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and it takes time to adjust to that. As soon as you begin showing your face to the people in your classes and the people you’re living with, you’ll quickly make friends and the feelings of feeling alone will quickly seem like a distant memory.

Money Issues

Moving abroad to another country, even going on holiday to another country, will present the issue with currency. For example, if you’ve travelled from the United Kingdom to America, trying to work out the Pounds to Dollars with added conversion rates can be a struggle at the best of times. The best way to approach this situation is by creating an easy conversion rate in your head. When you wake up or before you leave your house, check the current conversion rates for that day. If the rate is £1 = $1.29, round that up to $1.30 and for every $1 you spend, you’ll need to subtract £0.30. So, for every $10 you spend, you’ll need to subtract £3 from your total. This is only an estimate but it’s much easier than being completely lost in a shop without knowing what to do.
Hands presenting study abroad concept

Culture Shocks

Depending on where you travel to, it’s best to research, before you go, if there are any differences in the culture of your destination which people may find offensive. For example, if you place the top side of your hand under your chin and make a flicking motion, this is considered extremely offensive to the people of France, Belgium and Italy and it could result in a huge misunderstanding. The only way you’ll find out what the differences are is by searching online. These can be easily found by searching ‘*Destination* offensive cultural gestures’.

Language Barrier

Easily the most daunting prospect of travelling abroad is the inevitable language barriers that you’ll come across. Even if you’re travelling to a country where the majority of people speak English, you’re bound to run into someone you need to speak to for something who won’t understand what you’re trying to say.

Tips for eliminating this problem abroad is to remain calm and polite and try speaking in basic English. Try to avoid using any slang you may use back home naturally and use hand gestures (remembering the consideration above). However, this problem won’t last long. Once you’re in a country, you’ll need to pick up the language to survive and this isn’t as hard as you think. Language lessons at school are nowhere near as effective as being placed in the country itself and you’ll start picking up basic bits of conversation in only a couple of days.

Becoming Homesick

One of the hardest difficulties to overcome is homesickness. Home was your comfort zone where all your family and friends are and it won’t be long before you miss them in some way or another. Don’t panic though! You don’t have to book the next flight home to conquer this issue. One of the more exciting ways to overcome this is by getting involved in the place around. Whether your friends at your university are local or not, band together and explore the place you’re in, take tours outside the city and start interacting with the place you’re in.

Once you become a bit more confident, you can start taking buses and trains to neighbouring cities on your days off. Always remember that, thanks to social media, your friends and family are never that far away and it only takes a couple of seconds to be on the phone or video calling them. Better still, invite them over to come and see you. They’ll relish the fact they can go on holiday!

This article by Rachel Spammer was first posted elsewhere.