Originally Posted: Dec 27, 2018
Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020
Being away from home by studying abroad can be difficult. No matter how much you love what you’re studying, you’ll still struggle with being away from your family and living in such a new and different environment.
International students usually have a lot more to think about than just their studies, and this can cause them to deal with piles more of stress. This can take a toll on their everyday lives and make their stay difficult. Here are some of the most common problems international students face and how they can be dealt with.
The culture shock
The first thing that usually causes stress to international students is the culture shock. When you’ve spent your entire life in one country, lived a certain way, and gotten used to a particular everyday life, change can be pretty difficult.
The biggest issue is that most of the changes all come in a matter of hours. The scenery is different, the new city moves at a different pace, and everything is unfamiliar. No matter how much a person was looking forward to expanding their knowledge by studying abroad, such a big change can be overwhelming.
If you don’t have the ability to travel to that country before you have to live there, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself as much as possible for the stay. Watch videos, read articles, and educate yourself about the special culture you’ll experience. While you won’t be able to find out everything about your new home online, you’ll manage to have a pretty good idea about it, and you’ll be more prepared for the culture you’ll find after you spend a few days in the new country.
Related: Understanding Culture Shock
Many students who study abroad do so thanks to scholarships. While being able to expand your horizons and gain so much knowledge is an amazing thing, it isn’t always financially easy for everyone. Some countries can simply be more expensive to live in than others and there are students who struggle to make ends meet.
It’s not uncommon for international students to try and land a job on top of their studies. Finding a balance between working and studying can be stressful, and not only can it leave the student feeling exhausted mentally and physically, it can also make them less social than they typically are.
While many universities offer financial aid programs, it’s not an option for everyone as they may be even more worried about paying the debt off. The costs of living and studying abroad don’t just apply to university expenses either. Students also have to eat, buy clothes, and pay for things like public transportation.
Most students who struggle financially end up not being able to go out as often and connect with their peers. That can cause a lot of loneliness, and it can be hard to deal with for a young person. The best thing is to ask for financial advice from a professional. Many universities offer the help of a finance advisor who will be able to guide you through your issues. Along with that, you can try to find a freelance or part-time on-campus job (depending on what your visa allows). Many freelance jobs, like copywriters and translators, are more compatible with the lifestyle of a student and pay well after you’ve gained some experience.
The language barrier
Another problem that causes students stress is the language barrier. Even if the person studying abroad is fluent in the country’s language, it can still be difficult to communicate with others because of any accents and dialects.
While you may be able to get used to that after a while, talking and understanding someone’s speech is completely different to studying in another country. In most cases, based on what you’re studying, the terminology can be difficult and that can take a toll on your studies.
While things will get better the more practice you get, it’s usually better if you make the situation a little easier for yourself in the first place. Before deciding which country you wish to study in, learn some of the language or to pick a destination with enough time for you to perfect your knowledge of the language. You can always ask friends to help you practice and study with them.
Not feeling safe in the new country
A big problem that causes many international students anxiety is living in a country they don’t feel safe in. In the beginning of their journey, everything might seem ideal. You found a cheap place close to the campus, and it generally looks like everything will work in your favor.
In many cases, choosing a place to stay over the internet can come with consequences. You’ll end up having high expectations and the situation can disappoint you a lot more than it should. Living near campus might be convenient, but it could be dangerous if you don’t know the city well.
A good idea is to try and find accommodations through your university. If there are dorms available, you can stay there. This option is usually available to international students and will provide you with a safer and more pleasant experience until you get to know the city you’re now living in better.
Another problem international students have to deal with is missing their families. Being away from home is never easy, and no matter how excited you are for your new life to start, you’ll always miss your house, your bed, the members of your family, and your friends.
The more introverted a person is, the more difficult it will be to bond with new people and fill the gap of the people you’re missing. Focusing on your studies is important and will help you remember your purpose in this new situation. Your family won’t go anywhere while you’re away. They’ll miss you too, but the best thing you can do is make them proud. Call and video chat with them often so you see each other whenever possible.
Adjusting to a new way of life can be tricky
Living and studying abroad is definitely not an easy task. Everything around you will be new, and you’ll have to learn how to be respectful toward other people and their culture. The benefits of studying abroad are many, and there’s no struggle that should change your mind when it comes to going through such an amazing experience.
You’ll definitely feel stressed during your first few weeks, and it will take you a while to get used to the new surroundings. The key is to not give up and let all the stress overwhelm you.
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