Study Abroad Challenges! 5 Things Nobody Tells You
Everyone, including me, is telling you how much fun studying abroad will 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. Mainly because you expect everything to be and function as it does at home, but believe me, it won’t.
Furthermore, moving abroad also means 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. Primarily 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; 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 significant culture shock when I moved to Shanghai. 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 differs from only visiting. The good thing is that you will get used to the different cultures after a while.
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 I also faced culture shock when I studied abroad in France for my Bachelor’s degree.
It is essential to be open-minded and accept that it’s different everywhere. If you can do that, you will quickly overcome culture shock as one of the study abroad challenges.
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 living 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 is the other way around, and it was better for me when I lived in NYC. Luckily, I am in finance and can quickly adapt to exchange rates. However, I also know friends and family, which is a little bit more complicated for them. Many currency conversion apps are available now if you are unsure about exchange rates. Just get yourself one before moving abroad.
4. UNIVERSITY STRESS
Studying abroad is super exciting! It is so compelling that we sometimes even forget why we are abroad in the first place! Nevertheless, it calls studying abroad and not a vacation! Keep this in mind when going to study overseas. Take school seriously. From my experience, study abroad semesters always seems to be a bit easier. However, it would be best to keep 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 grades!
5. SAYING GOODBYE
To me, saying goodbye is one of the most problematic points. While all the other study abroad challenges will be initially overcome very quickly, this one hits differently. Just thinking about it gives me heartache 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 semester abroad. 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 thought I would return to Shanghai because all my stuff is still over there, it didn’t feel like a goodbye yet.
However, I don’t need to mention how bad the pandemic 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. Everything happened so fast, and before I could realise it, my study abroad time in Shanghai was already over.
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 a lot after Shanghai and my time there, and nobody at home understood 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.
If you prefer a visualisation of studying abroad, head to my TikTok account.