If you’re considering studying abroad, these questions are a good starting point:
• Do you want to leave your home country?
• Do you want to say goodbye to friends and family for what could be several years – allowing for regular or infrequent visits?
• Do you feel apprehensive about studying abroad? Hesitant?
• Does the thought of studying abroad excite you or make you feel uneasy?
• Do you like travelling?
• What advantages does studying abroad present for you?
And some practical considerations:
• Are your English language skills good enough?
• Do you have the grades or qualifications to get into the institutions you’re considering?
• Can you afford it – or will you need a scholarship?
The journey to studying abroad can be fraught with hurdles before you even get to your destination so it’s good to prepare yourself for what you’ll face. The hurdles aren’t insurmountable. Just prepare yourself for some frustration and deal with any challenges as they arise. Get together all the documents and paperwork you’ll need, prepare your personal statement or equivalent and think seriously about where you want to go and why. If you opt to get help from a counsellor or agent or other advisor, that should make the process easier.
Once you’re abroad, be prepared to feel like an outsider – at least for a while – and accept you’ll have to make an effort to make new friends, adapt to a new culture and go through periods where you’ll miss home and possibly feel down. Low moments are part of the process but generally they pass.
Here’s a list of things to do to make the transition to studying abroad smooth:
1: Take advantage of any chances to make new friends. Introduce yourself to classmates and students in your residence. Join clubs and access the university’s international student network. Good friends can enrich the experience of studying abroad and offer support when you need it.
2: Learn new domestic skills or use those you already have. Develop your cooking skills, keep your place clean, do your laundry – these are things you can start working on before you move.
3: Watch out for yourself. Be responsible. Don’t get yourself into bad situations.
4: Keep up to date with your studies. Stay on top of your course work. Try not to cram for exams at the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to complete essays and assignments. Get the best results you can. Make this a priority.
5: Exercise. Keeping in good physical shape has a positive influence on your mental state. And it’s a good way to relieve stress and stay healthy. And eat properly.
6: If English isn’t your first language, do whatever you can to improve your proficiency.
7: Live within your budget. Learning how to manage your finances will serve you well throughout your life. Do not overspend.
8: Keep in touch with friends and family at home as often as you need to. Internet communication platforms make this affordable and flexible.
Studying abroad can be a fantastic experience and create a lot of opportunities. Just be sure it’s something you want to do and be prepared for what you’ll face once you decide it’s the right choice for you.