Study Abroad Challenges! 5 Things Nobody Tells You
Everyone, including me, is telling you how much fun studying abroad is going to be! It will be your life experience! After all, like everything in life, there’s nothing that is only picture-perfect. So, today, I’m telling you everything about study abroad challenges. The five things nobody tells you!
Yes, moving abroad is definitely exciting! You will discover and explore so many new things. Nevertheless, let me tell you something. The beginning is so hard! You will miss the little life routines you had. Whether it is your favourite coffee shop or even your favourite grocery store. Mostly because you expect everything to be and function as it does at home, believe me, it won’t.
Furthermore, moving abroad also means that you are far away from your support network. While trying to figure out your new life in this new place, you can feel overwhelmed, which gives you homesick feelings. Especially because you will deal with everything on your own. Nonetheless, if you try to make the most out of it, you will overcome the challenges very quickly, and from there it will be a fantastic time!
2. CULTURE SHOCK
If you study abroad on another continent, chances might happen that you will face a culture shock as one of the study abroad challenges. Two years ago, I felt a major culture shock when I moved to Shanghai. (Actually, I’m also shocked right now, that it has already been two years!) I don’t even know why I felt like that in Shanghai because my family is from Vietnam. So I do know Asian culture a little bit. Although experiencing a new culture by living in a specific country is different than from only visiting. The good thing is that after a while, you will get used to the different cultures.
But did you know, culture shock can also happen within countries with similar cultures? For example, when I moved to NYC. The US is also very different from Europe. Or even in Europe in general. I remember my best friend and I also faced culture shock when we studied abroad in Spain and France during our Bachelor degree.
It is essential to be open-minded and to accept the fact that it’s different everywhere. If you can do that, you will overcome culture shock as one of the study abroad challenges quickly.
3. CURRENCY DIFFERENCES
Who knew that even the simplest things could turn into one of the study abroad challenges. Foreign currency can be so confusing. It takes a while to get to the exchange rate. I remember, when I was in London, I always calculated with around 1€ equals 1£ in my head so that it would be faster. Obviously, my credit card statements were still a little bit more expensive. The good thing is that if you go to the US, it was the other way around, and it was better for me when I lived in NYC. Luckily, I am in finance, and I can adapt to exchange rates very quickly. However, I also know friends and family, that this is a little bit more complicated for them. If you are unsure about exchange rates, there are many apps for currency conversions available now. Just get yourself one before moving abroad.
4. UNIVERSITY STRESS
Study abroad is super exciting! It is so compelling that we sometimes even forget why we are abroad in the first place! Nevertheless, it calls study abroad and not a vacation! Keep this in mind when going to study overseas. Take school seriously. From my experiences, study abroad semesters always seems to be a bit easier. However, it would be best if you still kept your deadlines in mind. Don’t get too frustrated about the new teaching style. Every country holds its classes and lectures differently. Also, most importantly, keep track of your transfer credits. Most of the time, the grades you will receive abroad won’t be precisely the same as your home university due to the grades conversion key. Choose the right study abroad program for you, and you will have a good time and good grades!
5. SAYING GOODBYE
To me, saying goodbye is one of the most problematic points. While all the other study abroad challenges initially and will overcome very quickly, this one hits differently. Just by thinking about it gives me heartaches again.
When I was living in Shanghai, I really felt accepted and also very happy. So I decided to extend my stay over there. Even though I chose to stay, my best friends over there left after the abroad semester. I still remember how we all cried back then, and it was super hard to say our farewells. So even though I decided to stay longer, suddenly the world turned upside down. Due to the pandemic, we all went back to our home countries. Since I always had in mind, that I would come back to Shanghai because all my stuff is still over there, it didn’t feel like a goodbye yet.
However, I don’t even need to mention how bad the pandemic situation got even after a year. Since most of all the countries in this world face the same problems right now. Therefore, I don’t know if it was already a goodbye to Shanghai or not yet. Everything happened so fast and before I could realise it, my study abroad time in Shanghai was already over. I hope that I can go back there and then decide again if I want to say goodbye to Shanghai or live there.
YOU SHOULD STILL GO STUDY ABROAD THOUGH!
At this point, I also want to mention something else. Saying goodbye always means saying hello. I cried after Shanghai, and my time there a lot and nobody at home did understand me. However, my best friends still welcomed me back with open arms. I want to mention that I am very grateful for having my best friends from home in my life! But also thanks to all my friends from all the studying abroad semesters as well! Thanks for still being in my life even though we don’t live in the same place anymore!
And even though these are all the study abroad challenges nobody will tell you, I still recommend studying abroad! It will be the time of your life! Here are all the reasons why you definitely SHOULD study abroad.