To take that next bold step of deciding to study abroad is an achievement in itself. As you are not just leaving the comfort of your favorite couch for some hours, you are going to an entirely new and totally different country.
Where not only will you have to adapt to the new environment and culture, you may also not find the brand of your couch in that country and that takes bravery.
Studying abroad is a great way to explore new environments and cultures while broadening your horizons and perspectives of knowledge. With all the preparations and anticipations, here are some not so obvious things you might have missed in all your excitement for the new adventures to come.
1. The housing dilemma
Having heard of and watched numerous videos online of different roommates’ horror stories, you are probably re-evaluating your choice of living with a roommate.
Usually roommates make the house lively and also wonderfully partake in the sharing of the bills when they arrive, but depending on the kind of roommate(s) you have - your life will either be blissful or stressful.
As a university student or any type of student at all, you do not need extra stress or problems added to your already existing worries: meeting project deadlines, trying to ace your exams, wondering why your report that is due at midnight has not written itself yet you were laughing at memes all day.
Don’t get me wrong, roommates are fun, especially when you have a lot in common. You guys could do memorable things together like go on trips, to concerts and just have fun in each other’s company.
You could also help each other in school if you are having difficulty with a course, you never know your roommate might just be really quick-witted in that area.
You will not feel lonely or sad because you have your roommate’s company all the time-- they are literally with you throughout most of the day when you are not in school.
If you have a friend that is going to the same university as you and you're cool with being roommates, that’s even more awesome, go for it.
On the other hand, living independently or alone is absolutely great. When you have your apartment all to yourself, you have full control of all the activities that go on in there.
You are free to live exactly as you please without a single worry. You are the only one with access to your apartment and so wherever and however you keep your stuff, they would remain in the exact same location with the precise X, Y, Z coordinates as you left them.
Living alone, you will get to discover different aspects of yourself that were unknown to you and you will also learn how to ask for help when you need assistance.
Contrary to popular belief, the key to happiness is within you. You only need yourself to have fun. Feel like going out? Why not. Want to see that movie you have waited for seven months to see and your friends don’t feel like it, why wait?
The probability of you making new friends when out alone is significantly higher than when you are out with a group of your already made friends. You are an individual, you have your life and so do your friends. You might like or enjoy things that they don’t so do not let that stop you from enjoying your ‘me’ time.
2. The phase of uncertainty
One of the best things about moving to a totally different place or country is that you get to learn new things and discover new cultures and adventures. However, in your new country, there will be a whole lot of stuff to do.
The amount of things to do in order to get familiar with the environment may be very overwhelming. You have to figure out how the transport system works, where to get food and groceries for your healthy living, the necessary documents you need after your arrival, if you have made all the required payments to the right persons and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Figuring all these out would be very tiring especially if you do not understand the way they speak or there is language barrier.
Just when you feel you have got everything figured out, you may take the wrong bus to the wrong location or you get off at the wrong stop when you finally take the right bus.
In fact, you could even get lost five times in the span of three hours. Sometimes, the little frustrations of not getting things right or just feeling really lost in general, would make you wish you were back home where you knew your left from your right and could easily be hired as a tour guide for incoming tourists.
A time would come when you will begin questioning if you made the right decision and you would even compare the littlest things that happens to you with what would have happened if you were still back home.
3. Take important things and pack light
When travelling, a lot of times people tend to mostly pack things they do not need or things that would later end up in the bin.
It is very important to pack the necessary things like items you can't do without or the things you know would be difficult to find in the country you are going to.
If you think twice about putting something into your luggage, take it out because you would replace it easily.
Packing unnecessary stuff only increases your luggage weight and you end up paying fees for overweight carriage.
4. It may not be as you have imagined or expected it to be
Generally, life does not go as planned. If it did, everyone would be walking around with big smiles on their faces and the world would be full of happiness because there would be absolutely nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, that is not the case – welcome to reality.
You may have imagined and planned out all the fun and exciting things you’ll do when you arrive but things are not going as planned. In fact, it is the total opposite of what you planned and nothing is working out. Remember: just relax.
Let life take you where it wants, embrace the moment and go with the flow.
Everything in life is a phase and things will fall into place.
You may be worrying about something today but tomorrow that worry is gone.
Your expectations may not be your reality, but only you can make your reality meet your expectations.
5. Get involved
At home, you are often times, if not always, surrounded by family and friends. So you get invited to different occasions and events even if you don’t want to go.
In your new country, you have to get involved and make new friends.
Whether you are an introvert, extrovert or ambivert like myself, you have to come out of your comfort zone and talk to people.
This way you will be informed and be in the know of what is happening around you.
You’ll also have people to hang out with and who would help you when you need assistance.
If you are alone all the time, you will feel isolated and really lonely. Which would negatively affect your health.
6. You will miss home and family
Your family and friends (especially siblings, if you have any) are the only ones that know you more than you know yourself, the ones that can annoy you to your last nerve and still make you smile while being mad at them.
Believe it or not, you will miss them and you will also be missed by them. The people you care about will be really far away from you and you have to deal with it.
Everyone is a stranger to you in the beginning and it will take some time before you are comfortable enough to start making friends.
Times like these are when you will cherish the times you spent with your friends and family.
After a while things will get better. And although you will still miss family and friends, surround yourself with people that make you happy. This will occupy your mind and fill some little space in your heart.
The people you surround yourself with, in one way or another, have an effect on your state of mind. If you surround yourself with good people and good vibes always, you will be happy.
7. Change - it will happen
You will change. In more ways than one, travelling abroad would change who you are as a person.
It will give you a new perspective on life and provide you with opportunities, it will test you in different kinds of ways.
Espouse it and let it educate you about the people and the environment that surrounds you.
You will learn different lessons from your experiences abroad and this will help shape you as an individual.
Want to learn more about our programs available to international students? Check out our international viewbook!