Studying abroad is a big decision, it involves being really independent and outgoing to leave the norm at home, and move country to experience something new. Everyone who studies abroad goes through various struggles throughout the duration of their time in a new country or city, however these can be overcome and will end up making you more proactive and independent.
Struggle #1: Being unable to find regular things from home e.g. in the supermarket
You may think that the particular brand of yoghurt that your mum buys on the weekly shop at Waitrose would be stocked all over the world, however this is often not the case. When you move country, you have to prepare yourself to adapt to the new culture and this will include changing your normal eating habits. At first, this can be hard because you will miss the things you are used to. But, as time goes on, it is fun trying new foods and products when you are in a new country. After all, once you get back home, you can eat all your old favourites and will probably start to miss all your new favourites from the city you moved to!
Struggle #2: Something goes wrong, and automatically, you become homesick
When things go wrong at home, you usually will have a support system for example your family to help you get through it, however when you study abroad you have to push yourself to become more independent. When something goes wrong abroad, it can be difficult because you may not know what to do. However, every other international or erasmus student is going through the same thing, and speaking to them will automatically put you at ease. Also, you must remind yourself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! And once you are home, you will want to look back on all the positive memories, therefore you should aim to make the most of it and ignore any feelings of homesickness.
Struggle #3: Trying to make the most out of studying abroad whilst still being wise with your money and maintaining a budget
Budgeting whilst studying abroad is really important, as you don’t want to spend all your money in the first month and be living off pot noodle for the rest of the experience. However, it is also important to make the most out of your time in a new city, and you should aim to see and do different fun and cool things each month. Therefore, finding a balance is important. In order to budget wisely, but still have a good time, you should make sure you are aware of your financial situation throughout the whole trip, and check your bank balance regularly. The last thing you want to do is book an excursion, to find out you are in minus numbers in your account. Also, if you are European and have moved elsewhere in Europe, try find a small weekend job, that will help pay for extra activities, for example working in a bakery. Not only will this give you a bit more money, but it will expose you to the culture, help you learn the language and is a great opportunity to make friends in your new city.
Struggle #4: The language barrier
If you are moving to a country or city which speaks a language you are not fluent in, it can be really hard to communicate and understand what people are saying (obviously), and this can get frustrating. Around 6 months before you move, I suggest taking online sessions or classes in the language of the country you are moving to. It won’t necessarily make you fluent, however it will allow you to understand the basic language so that you can communicate as best as you can with locals.
Struggle #5: Returning home
After an amazing trip abroad, meeting new people, trying new food and experiencing new adventures, it will be time to come home, which can be the biggest struggle of all. Leaving your new friends who will go back to where they are from and going home to where you are from can be really hard, especially when you have to say goodbye. This is why it is important to live every day to the fullest whilst you are away, and make the most of every experience. I also recommend writing a diary or creating a scrapbook so that you can look back on the memories and the good times you had in your semester or year abroad. Also, make sure to take all the contact details of the friends you made and add them on Facebook, so that if you are ever in the same place as them again you can meet up and reunite!