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Student studying in France
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Survival guide for studying abroad

Picking up a guide for studying studying abroad or getting advice is not such a bad idea if your taking a year to go overseas. Studying abroad is more than taking your education on the road, it is without a doubt the best experience anyone can have.  And lets face it, it’s expensive so you really want to get the most out of your time and investment.  Getting the chance to study as part of an international community was an amazing experience that broke a lot of cultural stereo types I once held.  I made a lot of new friends I still keep in touch with. What stood out to me the most was that studying overseas gave me a chance to be in a totally different cultural environment that taught me more about life then a classroom or teacher ever will.  So I put together my student survival guide for studying aboard that helped me navigate going to school overseas.

Survival tip number 1

Take a class on cultural studies or awareness before you leave or at least pick up a book.   Cultural awareness courses or books will point out some of the difficulties of living, studying and working among different cultures.  It will help you prepare to deal with homesickness, depression, and cultural communication. I did not think at first it was worth doing the extra work, but if you are majoring in International studies or humanities your going to need a stronger awareness of the politics of people and how to stay sane when you have to deal with a lot of changes over a period of time.

Even if you are visiting for short term there are a lot of differences to be aware of like certain behaviors, apparel, or comments sometimes might not be acceptable in your host country.  Saying or doing the wrong thing, or accidentally insulting people in your guest country, makes you feel awkward and it will cause you to stress out about it.  One of the very common things that happens to people when they go overseas is, they are unprepared to face cultural changes and don’t really know whats the proper thing to do. Your not expected to know what to say or do, and it is ok to make mistakes but too many mistakes will pile up on you.  You get overwhelmed and want to return home because you feel to uncomfortable. Reading a book to prepare you to handle cultural changes can really help you not stress out about it so you can focus on your studies and having a good time.

Survival tip number 2

Bring some personal items along with you like your favorite music, deodorant and a smart phone.  I found that not all deodorant works the same in some cases it hardly works at all.  I had to have a small supply shipped to me from back home because the deodorant in the local stores just wasn’t working for me and being a smelly person isn’t good for meeting new people if you know what I mean.

Survival tip number 3

When it comes to making friends don’t be to choosy.  Except invitations and just ask people to join you when you go places .  It seems kind of bold or crazy at first but in my experience one thing leads to another.  Next thing you know the person you invited to go with you to the street market ran into three of his friends who invited you all out for the evening.  The best and last survival guide tip for studying abroad I can offer is, learn to break out of your shell and make contact with people even if you don’t know them that well it pays off. Before you know it, your time abroad will go quickly and your experiences and memories will last a lifetime.

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