Being a student is already a big challenge for many people. However, nothing is more daunting than being one in a different country. You have to face a lot of challenges, including cultural differences and language barrier.
In recent years, Australia and New Zealand have experienced an increase in the number of international students. Apparently, in 2016 alone, two-thirds of migrant arrivals in the Australian mainland are from New Zealand with over 24,300 citizens possessing student visas. On the other hand, 15 percent of those who study in New Zealand’s formal tertiary education system is from overseas. These numbers show how massively in-demand study abroad programmes are.
If you are planning to move out of your country for your baccalaureate or master’s degree as an exchange student, you need to know how you are going to adapt to life in a different country. Lessen the pain of homesickness and the anxiety of culture shock by taking into heart the following tips on how to overcome the common challenges mentioned below.
One big reason for a student to decide moving out of the country is the desire for change. Probably, you want to immerse in a different culture and learn new traditions. However, enculturation proves to be a far bigger challenge than one can imagine.
You have to learn a lot of things about another country’s culture and traditions. As they say, you have to act like a local to enjoy travelling. So as an exchange student, one thing that you need to do before travelling to your destination is to learn about their practices and taboos.
In this manner, you can easily blend in with the people and lessen the risk of embarrassing yourself or worse, getting in trouble with the authorities.
Another problem that you will most likely have when moving to a different country is having difficulty in communicating with the locals. As an international student, you have to learn, at least, the language basics to make sure that you get to understand and convey yourself easily.
However, learning a new language is a tough thing to do since you have to learn not just new words, but also familiarise with accents and inflections. Nonetheless, the best thing for you to do is to be honest. Whenever you have a hard time understanding a person’s accent, ask for clarification in a manner that is suitable. Even if you think you heard it wrong or you are too shy to speak up, telling the truth will save you from miscommunication.
Besides, this gives the locals the impression that you trust them and that you are trying your best to get along.
Naturally, this is one thing that you might find hard to overcome. Being an exchange student, you have to be away from your family and friends for a long period of time. Not seeing your loved ones will tend to make you feel lonely and anxious especially if it is your first time overseas.
Instead of sulking and feeling morose, though, you can create a schedule where you can talk to your friends and family regularly. With the current technology, you can initiate video and phone calls even with a decent internet connection. On the other hand, you can also go out and make new friends so that you will not feel bad all the time.
Whenever time permits, you can ask your roommates whom you have established affinity and trust to show you around and bring you to landmarks and tourist spots. Travel agencies will have the perfect tour packages for you and your new friends.
Managing your finances is hard to do at first. Whether from your earnings or savings, there is a high risk that you will overspend especially if you haven’t done financial management and budgeting before.
However, you can keep up with your finances when you monitor your cash flow by accounting your income and expenses. When you get to see how much you spend every month compared to your income, you can then easily know if you are spending over your budget or not. Even if you are getting a monthly stipend from sponsors, managing your money well will keep you out of immense debt after the exchange programme.
Meanwhile, you can look for a part-time job if you think that you need extra cash. Just make sure that this is permitted by your programme head.
Moving to a different country as an exchange student is hard. However, you should not feel bad if you only know how to adapt to changes. Make this change a positive one by learning more about the country and immersing yourself in the culture. Remind yourself that this is a valuable learning experience that you can bring with you even after getting a degree.
When you need to document your travels and experiences, you can always find travel guest posting sites for a creative outlet. In this way, you can show your family and friends at home how much fun you’re having.