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5 Study Abroad Problems You Will Face – And Conquer!

Posted on Mar 08, 2017

Study Abroad Challenges

Congratulations! You are on your way to your very first study abroad experience. You can look forward to new beginnings, new places, new people and to, most importantly, a tectonic shift in your worldview. You get to be curious, you get to explore and learn from the most and least expected sources, and at the end of this grand illuminating adventure, you get a degree from a top school. However, you could face a few roadblocks along the way, so here are 5 issues you may face – and will conquer:

1. Homesickness. You never thought it would happen but you actually miss fighting with your sibling, mom’s home cooked food and dad’s words of wisdom. Don’t worry! Living thousands of miles away and seeing so much makes you appreciate where you come from and what your friends and family have done. It’s perfectly normal to feel homesick as long as it’s not hampering your experience abroad.  Each individual has his or her own way of overcoming these feelings, but here are a few tips that might help speed the process:

  • Get involved in various activities on campus from clubs to competitions to social events.
  • Limit your time on Skype and other communication channels.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Connect with people at International Student Services or speak to other foreign students.

2. Academic difficulties. You are moving into a learning environment that is founded on critical thinking. You will be taught how to think, rather than being told what to think.  The teaching methodology, study patterns, holistic learning approach and interactive style of teaching can be difficult to adapt to initially. To ease the adjustment:

  • Understand the different exam formats (multiple choice, papers, long answers, problem-solving) from professors or current students.
  • Make copious use of your professor’s office hours.
  • Read as much as you can. The set texts are not enough, read the other course material, suggested reading, relevant journals, articles and more to get a comprehensive understanding of the content.

3. Communication barriers. Language and communication barriers are a reality of living abroad. You should not let the fear of speaking incorrectly keep you from interacting in the country.  You will learn with time and with your mistakes.  Try to:

  • Carry a language dictionary or download an appropriate app.
  • Make friends with the locals and ask them for tips and advice.
  • Keep trying and don’t have your fluent / local friends speak for you.

4. Running short on cash. Money issues is a struggle most college students face whether they are international or not. For many of you this is the first time you are paying rent or buying your own groceries, so there will be a learning curve.  Look to:

  • Get a job on campus – whether it is tutoring, as a teaching/research assistant, resident advisor or in the bookstore or library.
  • Keep a budget to make sure that you have enough money to pay for the essentials as well as extras such as social gatherings and travel. Look at ways you can cut costs, e.g. by cooking at home, cutting coupons etc.
  • Pay all your bills regularly and on time to avoid any additional late fees and charges.

5. Scared to speak up. Active vocal participation is an important element of the learning process.  Colleges abroad encourage students to speak up, express their ideas and even challenge statements or findings.  Some classes / programs even allocate a grade to class participation. So there is no need to stay invisible, instead make your voice heard:

  • Use your notes to contribute to a class discussion. For brownie points, reference recommended reading and current affairs related to the topic of discussion.
  • Listen to what other students are asking as that will provide you a point of reference
  • Don’t worry – there is no such thing as a silly question. Teachers create a climate in which you are comfortable to ask questions and they take your comments seriously.

Now that you are aware of some of the common issues faced by students who study abroad, take them in stride!  Enjoy your time there, as you now know what to anticipate and how to overcome it. Good luck!

ReachIvy sincerely hopes that this article serves as a critical tool to increase your knowledge base. For study abroad consultation  or career counselling  with ReachIvy, Submit a Query now! Also, review our resources  to access our free premium content.

This article was also published in MyCity4Kids  on 23/02/2017.

Posted in Study Abroad

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