The Biggest Challenges You Will Face as an International Student Living Abroad

A portrait of an Asian college student on campus

Many young people dream of studying abroad. Although the experience will certainly be fun and there will be a lot to learn, you need to be prepared for the tough challenges that you will likely face.

Finances

You are lucky if you were born rich, but even those who live comfortably in their home countries may struggle with their finances, especially in notoriously expensive cities. Start by looking for affordable housing units that host international students like you. There are many cheap student accommodations in the centre of London so you do not have to worry.

To make sure that you have enough cash for the rest of the month, you need to learn how to manage your budget. First, list down all your expenses every week. This includes your grocery, rent, utilities, commute/gas, school supplies, etc. Next, add how much money you are getting. This includes your student loan, a grant/scholarship, and the cash your parents or guardian send to you. Once you figure these things out, that is when you can create a budget that you should strictly follow.

Homesickness

Homesickness is an issue that anyone who has moved thousands of miles away from their parents. It can be difficult, especially around the holidays when you do not have family around to celebrate with. Unfortunately, the feelings of distress and loneliness are not something that you can escape. However, you can make things easier by making the most of technology.

Before you leave home, make sure to teach your parents how to use Skype or Facetime so that you can call them whenever you miss them. Having a social media account may also help by keeping you updated on everything that is happening in your hometown.

Cultural Shock

In your host country, expect to encounter local practices and customs that are different from what you are used to. Every nation on Earth has its own unique culture. Even in places like London, where all kinds of people from around the world congregate, have their own set of written and unwritten rules.

The best thing you can do to avoid making mistakes and offending someone is to be aware. Read travel books about your destination, watch their movies and television shows, etc. Once you arrive at your host country, observe how people act and react. Try to imitate their actions and, maybe, you will look like a native in this foreign land. Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand anything. You will find that people will be happy to share their local knowledge and welcome you to your new home.

Isolation

Female looking through library books

Moving to a new place will make you feel isolated and alone, especially at the beginning. It will feel lonelier to be in a nation where you do not know the culture nor speak the language fluently.

Feeling out of place is normal and it is something that will change over time. Although there will always be people with bad intentions wherever you go, most are kind and welcoming. The best thing to do is to make friends. When you have friends to show you around, explain local practices and customs, and just talk to you when you are lonely will make the feeling of being an outsider disappear.

Do not be afraid. While you will face so many different challenges in a foreign country, the experience will transform you and prepare you to become a globally competent adult.

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