Moving to a foreign country for whatever reason is difficult, especially if there is a language barrier. However, it can be more challenging for students who are going abroad on their own to study.
It is common to experience “culture shock” during your first months in a new place, but know that you will eventually get used to living abroad. To make the process of adjusting a little easier, here are a few pieces of advice that will help you out.
Make New Friends
It can be intimidating – or even awkward – to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. If you are in a place where you do not know anyone, how will you feel at home?
Make it your goal to find a friend during your first month in a foreign country. If you find a student accommodation provider that caters to other international tenants, you will have the chance to interact with other young people who are also struggling to assimilate.
Having a friend who feels equally lost and out-of-place to be with when exploring the city or town will make you feel like you are on an adventure. Plus, you will have someone who will understand the difficulties you experience and your concerns.
However, do not limit yourself to befriending only other international students. Find a local, someone in your class, or the club you want to join to show you around.
You will forever feel like a fish out of water if you isolate yourself in your flat. After you are done with your classes, participate in extracurricular activities in school. Or at least check them out. Go outside of campus and look for events that interest you. Sign up for poetry readings, for example, at cafes or join a photography walking tour of the city.
If you have the time, you may enroll in classes that discuss local culture. This way, you will have a knowledgeable person to explain to you practices that are very different from your own.
Moreover, visit popular tourist attractions. While you are not there for a vacation, it would not hurt to explore and discover the beauty of a foreign country.
Watch Local TV Shows, Movies
The easiest way you can learn about a country is by watching what is currently on TV. A country’s local television shows and movies often reflect the community’s culture, history, customs, manners, and humor. It is also a great way to practice your mastery of the language, allowing you to get used to listening to people talk and let you pick up slangs and colloquialisms that are not on the official dictionaries.
It will also give you something to discuss and bond with your classmates when school officially begins.
Find an Internship or a Part-time Work
An internship or part-time work will distract you whenever you feel lonely and homesick. It will allow you to earn extra cash and relevant job experience, and interact with all sorts of people, getting a feel of what working in the city would be like if you decided to live in the country later.
You will also have people who will teach you the skills necessary to survive in this new place and have friends outside of your school.
Leaving home and moving to a country on the other side of the globe can be daunting. Instead of being afraid, look at it as an adventure. You will face some difficulties, but you will also learn a lot.
Bonnie is always on the road with some amazing adventures ahead. Her favorite continent is South America and she’s passionate about culture-focused traveling and ethical and sustainable tourism. During her time in university as a research assistant for a sociology professor, she realized she can’t fully understand cultures from a safe distance. She quit her job to become a full-time “voluntourist,” which brings her to places where she can immerse in local communities and support their causes. On top of writing, one of Bonnie’s priorities is offering women advice on how to stay safe while solo backpacking.