Studying abroad is the most enriching yet an important phase in a student’s life and also for the people around him. Leaving one’s home country to receive a degree brings along a mix bag of experiences that will stay with the student for his lifetime. Going overseas to earn a degree might be daunting for some and can be a cake walk for some. The big question of Expectations vs. Reality has to be busted for any student to get a clearer picture as to what he or she will be experiencing for the times to come. The main aim of a student should be to grasp as much knowledge as he/she can while they can as it can improve their skills and career prospects wherever they go.
- Reality Check: Making friends and meeting new people from diverse background will be the first thing that a student will do. For the ease to adapt into a new culture, with even newer curriculum, requires a good community circle. Some students might get a culture shock if it’s their first ever travel alone from home country. International students often meet each other in the dorms which eventually becomes a diverse cultural hub and students get to know each other which helps them garner knowledge about various traditions. They become pillars of support for each other in times of despair.
Bottom Line: It’s necessary to step out of one’s own comfort zone and interact with people from all age groups and diversities.
- Cultural Alteration:
The change in living and food style may dampen a student’s spirits even before going to the classrooms. Not been able to speak in their mother tongue and finding a fellow student from their own nationality might put a student in fix. An open mind and the will to gel with people and explore various aspects of life in a foreign university should be taken as new experiences by a student. No matter how excited a student is about his/her decision of studying in foreign university but living in a culture entirely different is always challenging. It is natural for international students to go through cultural alteration.
Bottom Line: Knowing about a new culture and having interactions with a diversified group of people will only help establish a student’s roots in the foreign land.
- Budget Problems: In a country where a student has a lot of new things to see and explore, there are enormous chances of going off your budget. Travelling and exploring is definitely an enriching extension to one’s life but getting hold on ones pocket to splurge on what’s actually required is key to survive in a foreign land. Getting a part time job(depending on the student visa regulations of the country) is one of the options that one can engage into. All these jobs should be taken only after a proper adjustment in college.
Bottom Line: Splurging is all right once in a while but making this a habit should be controlled. Money saved is money earned!
- Motivation to attend classes:
For a student from a different education culture, it takes the time to get adjusted to the new one. Also since the curriculum might involve either more of practical or theoretical or a different set of teaching set all together a student might feel difficult at once to get acquainted with the course structure. Also, there are a lot of other co-subjects that a student has to study in every semester that adds up to the final credit at the time of graduation. Extra time and concentration are needed to earn good credits to get a degree.
Bottom Line: Studies should be the top priority for any student who has travelled overseas to earn a degree.
- Home away from Home: Without a doubt, any student will miss their home country and their families once in a while. Getting homesick is a very common amongst student from any nationality. With the ever changing technology communication has become easier and accessible, irrespective of the distances. Frequent interaction with parents and close ones should take place. Nothing compares to the motivation received from parents, which also is a gentle reminder to a student about their real purpose of being away from home. If conditions allow, annual visits during holidays can be made to curb the feeling of missing home. All said and done living in a foreign country with people from different cultures is an experience and one should be open to new experiences.
Bottom Line: Living in a foreign country even for a little while is an experience of a lifetime. One should enjoy it thoroughly and make new friends. Communicating with parents on a regular basis should be done on timely basis.
About the Author:-
Stephen Robinette was born in Springfield, Missouri and graduated from Missouri State University in 1969. He spent 30 years in the Army and lived for over 10 years in Germany. He travelled extensively for the Army visiting other armies around the world discussing United States Army doctrine. Steve commanded Army units in Vietnam, Germany, and Desert Storm. After retiring from the Army he was the Director of Academic Outreach for Missouri State University for over 10 years and is now the Associate Vice President for International Programs for Missouri State and has logged over 70 trips to China since 2000.