How to Adjust to Student Life in a New Country
Embarking on the journey of international education CAN – but doesn’t have to – be challenging, says Merette Kennedy. She shares some great advice based on her own experience of studying abroad.
Preparing for your first day at college can be a little intimidating and a tad bit overwhelming. From packing and buying those expensive school books, to wondering what your classes will be like. Will they be difficult? What can I expect? Am I ready?
Now, you have decided to travel to a different country to go to college, the questions get even more difficult, right?
They don’t have to.
I went to college less than an hour away from my hometown near Boston, Massachusetts. As my mother and father drove, I had to hide the tears. I was not used to leaving home. I was nervous. Approximately ten minutes after arriving at the university, however, I rushed my parents out the door and could not wait to enjoy my new found freedom and this new chapter of my life.
It has always been my lifelong dream to travel to Ireland. But it seemed like an unreachable place; a distant destination that I only saw on TV or in movies. This was ten years ago when one did not have access to the guidance SchoolApply offers. But after a lot of research, in my second year of college, I found myself applying to study abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland. A decision to this day, that has challenged me, changed me and given me lessons that could not be taught in the classroom.
Adjusting to life in a different country and culture can be a challenge. Everything is different. Money, climate, clothes, culture; I could go on. But there are ways to make it easier. The first step is simply having an open mind. If you don’t restrict your mind, nothing else will be restricted. Be prepared to be exposed to a different way of life and different people, but also be open to the possibilities this will bring. You have chosen to study in a different country, and you should give yourself the credit for wanting to open your world.
There will more than likely be a few options regarding where you will live. Most colleges have shared rooms with other students. Some offer single rooms which give you privacy and your own space which will seem like the more desirable option. Choosing to live with other students was one of the best decisions that I made while studying abroad. At first uncomfortable and awkward, eventually living with others enhanced my experience so much that I decided to return to the same University five years later for my postgraduate degree. I made lifelong friends from many different places around the world, and once again, the world was opened to me in ways I never thought possible before studying abroad.
All in all, one of the best ways to adjust to life in a different country is simple, people! For you, this will be other students, professors, and advisors. You have decided to study internationally, and you will surely succeed in your academic goals if you put your mind to it. You will also succeed if you immerse yourself into the culture. Talk to people. Introduce yourself. Join in activities that take place around the university. You have already made a huge leap in challenging your comfort zone, and soon you will discover that there were friends waiting to be made, lessons waiting to be learned, and you have made memories that will last.
The last, or perhaps first, thing to remember is that things may not come together overnight. You may not be immediately comfortable with your new roommate, you may feel like you stand out amongst the crowd, just like I felt. The key is to be open to possibilities and a new culture. The world is a big place, but it is at your fingertips.
International education is a chance to see the world from a new perspective. SchoolApply will get you there, but you will make it your very own unique experience.