Guest Post by Adarsh Thampy.
Studying abroad is fascinating. And the idea of studying abroad is all the more. When you get the admissions letter (or the letter of acceptance), you feel euphoric; Understandable. The prospect of living in a different country is exciting.
You will make a list of all that you need – the packing you need to do, the clothes you need to buy, the medicines you might have to carry (in case they are not available there), and the like.
But what about preparing mentally? Have you considered the emotional difficulties you’ll have to face?
Being busy with other preparations, chances are high that you might not have given this a thought.
Common Problems While Living Abroad
- Home sickness
- Difference in the way things are done
- Culture shock
- Language Problem
- Weather Issues
#1: Home Sickness
When a couple gets married, they are very happy. They hardly find faults with each other, and love everything about their spouses. This is called the honeymoon period, and it’ll be the same for you. Initially, you’ll be extremely happy with the place – exploring new sights, meeting new people, learning new things.
Oh! The joy!
But this gradually dies down. After a couple of months (or years, depending upon your resilience), you’ll start pointing out differences between the new country and your home country. You’ll feel that a lot of things are wrong. You’ll start craving for home cooked food (to start with).
You can overcome this. Keep in touch with your folks back home- Skype regularly.
Ask for goodie – packages. Goodie packages are packages filled with ‘goodies’ from home!
#2: Difference in the way things are done
You are going to a new place. Things will be very different.
The same activities will be done differently. After sometime, you’ll get bored.
You need to keep an open mind.
Absorb as much as you can. Refrain from drawing comparisons, as there is no common platform to compare on. Try new things often. Try not to get into a rut, that’ll bore you.
#3: Culture shock
Culture shock is what you face when exposed to a culture very different from the one you come from. It has ways of manifesting itself. You’ll feel sad, dejected, frustrated, and confused.
You’ll find everything very tiresome, and be highly irritable.
You’ll feel that people don’t understand you and there is no one you can consider your own. You’ll feel angry, anxious, and depressed. This stage is usually referred to as ‘hostility stage’.
Once the hostility stage settles, you’ll go through a ‘humour stage’, where you’ll find everything funny – their dresses, their eating habits, their food, their music – absolutely everything will seem outright hilarious. This will help you to adjust slowly to your new environment. You’ll establish friends, make groups of friends, and try to imbibe whatever you can.
Once this stage is crossed, you’ll resign yourself. You’ll feel that since you have to complete your course, you might as well adapt. You’ll train your mind to get used to things around you – the sounds, the smells, the figures, and the movements. The little nuances that bothered you initially will now seem interesting.
To lessen the shock and avoid all the aforementioned stages, try to learn as much as you can about the culture there. Visit websites; get guidebooks, travelogues – anything that can give you information. Do these before you go abroad. This way you’ll be somewhat prepared to face eventuality.
You could also get in touch with foreign students who are living there and gain perspective. This’ll go a long way in preparing you mentally.
#4: Language Problem
It is not necessary that everybody in your destination country speak English. If you are lucky, you’ll meet a few who do. But to go about everyday life, you’ll need to consider overcoming the barrier.
Enroll yourself in a language school and learn the native language. It not only helps in communication, but also helps build trust. A foreigner who speaks their language will be deemed trustworthy. Also, you might find that some really good reference books are in the native language.
On learning the native language, you can absorb the culture more, watch plays, listen to local music, enjoy the local cuisine, and the local literature!
#5: Weather Issues
Weather is always unpredictable. But, in some countries, it is predictable to a certain extent, while in other cases, you never know! Find out about the weather there.
Is it sunny most of the time?
Is it always cloudy and rainy?
Does it snow?
This will help you prepare mentally to face the weather. Once you are mentally prepared, physical preparation won’t be so difficult!
Over to You:
Are you planning to go abroad for studies? Are you mentally prepared to be part of a new culture? Let me know via comments.
About The Author
Adarsh is a career expert at YourNextLeap- a startup founded by Stanford and USC graduates. He talks about the perfect resume format, and gives regular career tips at the YNL blog.