BY SYLVIA KOHL
Studying abroad is an exciting yet often intimidating experience; however, you can considerably improve your chances to get the most of it if you follow a few simple but useful tips.
1. Learn the Customs of Your Host Country
What feels natural to you may come out as rude, tactless or just plain weird to the natives of the country where you study. The customs in question may touch upon any aspect of life: from how much personal space you are supposed to give to other people, to whether you are supposed to tip in cafes and restaurants. It is a very good idea to read up on the matter before embarking.
2. Keep in Touch with Home
Getting separated from friends and relatives for a long time, especially if you’ve never experienced it before, may as likely as not make you feel homesick and even depressed pretty soon. That is why finding an affordable means of communication with them is a must. Email, messengers and suchlike can help in most cases, but there will always be situation in which a phone call is the only option. Fortunately, there are services that can help you out, providing communication with most foreign countries: cheap calls to South Africa, India, Romania and even Antarctica aren’t really all that hard to come by.
3. Don’t Get Stuck in Your Diaspora
If the place you live has a numerous diaspora of your compatriots or fellow speakers of your native language, it is all too easy to get stuck in your comfort zone and spend your entire stay in a foreign country communicating only with the people you could have met at home. If you went abroad to improve your language skills and experience a foreign country, it certainly isn’t the way to go. Get involved in local affairs, try to find friends among locals, avoid speaking your native language – you will have enough time for that at home.
4. Get Involved
Extracurricular activities form an important part of college life in many countries, and you should make use of it, especially if there are accommodations for it in the college you’ve chosen. Taking part in various activities will help you get new friends, get immersed in the local culture and customs, improve your grasp of language and generally have a good time.
5. Enjoy Your Stay
Of course, your primary reason for being abroad is education – but it doesn’t mean your stay cannot be pleasant. Visit interesting places, make fascinating new acquaintances, take part in events that you won’t find at home – there is a lot to do irrespectively of where you are from and where you are staying. Be active, and even homesickness and depression won’t dampen your spirits.
Being an international student is both exciting and scary – but it is up to you which is going to be your prevailing emotion throughout your stay. Follow these tips and you are sure to find your year abroad to be both educational and fun!
Sylvia Kohl is IT teacher with more than 7 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and beta-testing. This writer chose news about the increasing role of IT usage in colleges and schools as the most common topic for her articles.
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