If you want to find ways to overcome fears of studying abroad, then you are in the right place!
This bittersweet experience comes with wonderful moments and advantages, but sometimes, it is not always 100% going to work out the way you imagined it to be.
Keep in mind that studying abroad requires you to be flexible, open-minded, and prepared to adapt to unexpected circumstances.
Don’t worry though, we will ease this process for you! Below, you will find the 5 common challenges students face abroad and solutions for each.
#1 Culture shock
Studying in a new destination can be confusing at the beginning as you start seeing different cultures, attitudes, behaviours, food, and gestures.
The way people interact might be different from your country, which might create this annoyance or shock.
You need to come to the new country with an open mind and ready to be understanding of the new norms and traditions.
Once you slowly recognize and understand what’s happening and how they are behaving, you’ll adapt faster and even start appreciating the changes instead of getting annoyed by them.
4 Tips to Overcome Culture Shock When Studying Abroad:
- Learn as much as you can about the country and culture before arriving so that you know what to expect.
- Ask your university advisor or host for advice about how to adapt when studying abroad and ask about what others have had a hard time with specifically and what they’ve done to cope.
- If possible, try to let go of any expectations. You might like some of the new traditions but also find others odd. Everything is possible and you just have to be flexible!
- When you arrive, get involved with the local community to feel less like an outsider! For example, find volunteering opportunities or even join a sports team.
To overcome fears of studying abroad, you have to be aware of what you are feeling.
Are you feeling guilty about leaving your friends and family behind? This is normal. International students around the world are constantly missing their parents back home, but they’re still pursuing their dreams and you should too!
Just like how students have this fear of leaving, parents are also scared. They don’t want to lose you, so the solution is to openly communicate about how both sides are feeling and come to an agreement.
For instance, you can set aside an hour every morning to video call everyone back home and ask about them. After that, you can go to your university and continue with your day.
It’s all about balancing and managing your time while studying abroad to keep your relationships healthy!
5 Ways to Deal with Homesickness When Studying Abroad:
- Keep getting creative with ways to communicate with them, for example, other than daily video chats, you can write letters of gratitude and send postcards!
- In the new destination, you can try connecting with people from the same background through Facebook groups, or other platforms.
- Plan in advance so that whenever you have a vacation, you can make travel plans to go visit them back home.
- When it gets really hard, you can start doing the things you used to love like cooking your favorite meal that your mom used to make.
- Finally, finding a healthy distraction can be a good solution. Spend more time outdoors, read your favourite book, or walk around your area and explore it more.
#3 Language barrier
One of the most common challenges abroad is the language barrier, and it is also the most important to know how to deal with it.
When you’re in a new country, you will have a lot of questions and you want to be able to communicate them and understand the responses.
The first thing you want to focus on is making an effort. In this case, you can do that by trying to learn the basics of the language, even if your university program is in English.
How to Overcome Language Barrier When Studying Abroad:
- When starting to learn, a lot of people get discouraged or embarrassed to speak. However, keep in mind that you are learning a new way of talking and that is a huge accomplishment. Don’t be shy!
- Practice makes perfect. One way to keep developing your language skills is by talking to locals and practicing having full conversations.
- The typical and great way to learn: Watching TV & movies in the language that you’re trying to learn will help a lot!
- The language barrier does not only mean speaking the language but also learning the gestures, facial expressions, attitude, and behaviours. Keep an eye on those things to pass your message in a polite and non-offensive way.
You will be alone for a while at the beginning of your journey and that’s completely okay! It will be a chance for you to learn and grow on your own and this will strengthen your skills and make you independent.
Slowly, as you gain independence, confidence, and better communication skills, you will feel happy with being alone. This will also make it easier for you to make friends and gain connections.
Studying abroad on your own will make you understand yourself better, what do you miss? What makes you happy? What makes you upset?
You will discover amazing things about yourself and the world around you and will be able to reach a level of comfort and fulfillment that you never felt before!
So first: start by working on the inside, nurturing your soul with the things you love.
5 Ways to Deal with Loneliness When Studying Abroad:
- We all feel lonely sometimes. One of the things you can do to make it easier is to make a full agenda and create a routine so you can be distracted and busy.
- Have a journal on you at all times to write down what you feel and why you feel that way.
- Join clubs and university events to find friends, develop your skills, and feel more integrated into the culture.
- If you feel like you have extra time, find a part-time job that can keep you occupied and at the same time help with your expenses.
- Still feeling lonely? Set new goals. Sometimes the feeling of loneliness stays even when people are around, so the solution is to try out new things to discover what truly makes you satisfied.
#5 Study Abroad Anxiety
Do you get this nervous feeling in your stomach whenever you think about being alone? It is a common feeling!
You are trying out something you have never done before. When we don’t know what’s going to happen exactly, we tend to get worried and start asking “what if” questions.
But, it is important not to let this stress impact your decision and make you stop pursuing your dream abroad!
The anxiety will probably occur because you are overwhelmed with many thoughts at once. So, what you can do is write them down and if you find something that specifically worries you, try to find a solution.
For example, are you worried about visa requirements? Visit the government website of the country that you’re visiting and check what it says. If you still can’t find the answer, look for a contact number and call.
Are you worried about not passing your classes or your English level? Email your professors in advance and let them know that English is your second language. You can also look for tutoring services at your institution, they’re usually free.
Are you embarrassed about the way you look or being/sounding different? Work on your self-confidence and shift your mindset to accept yourself so that other people can accept you as well!
There’s a solution for everything! Whenever you feel down, remember not to give up because you have dreamed so long about studying abroad.
It’s time to beat the challenges and become a stronger person than ever. 😉
If you feel like you still have concerns and would like to listen to a professional tackle this topic, check out the Live below with a Psychologist specializing in studying abroad: Andrea Sebben.
She shares techniques through science that are proven to help people with their exchange process!
Did you benefit from the tips and solutions to overcome fears of studying abroad? Great! Share them with your friends to help them as well.