Going abroad to study is always a daunting experience to begin with. Leaving behind friends and family to begin your adventure alone, in a setting you are not familiar with is a courageous move in itself. However, not everyone can adapt and go on to complete their mission. Many students grow up with their parents’ expectation to study abroad without even consulting with them. Many go abroad because of the social pressures they feel from others around them. Many even believe that studying abroad in one destination would give the same experiences as studying in another destination. Students may have an acceptance letter to study in the UK or USA, but studying in London will not give the same experience as studying in Durham, and neither will studying in New York as opposed to studying in Lafayette. When the correct amount of research is not done, and the right type of mind set is not present, this is when the cracks begin. These are the typical student profiles that are doomed to fail and return to their countries.
In order to help students prepare better for study abroad, I have 5 tips that will help them settle in and adapt quickly to their new surroundings;
1) Read as much as you can about the destination you are going to
What’s the lifestyle like there? Are people friendly? Is it safe? These are just some of the crucial questions you need to find out before you get on the plane. You need to be prepared for where you are going as much as possible to avoid any shocks. Therefore read reviews, study the history of the city you are going to, speak with friends that have been there before and try to be best prepared for what you will find.
2) A friendly hello can take you a long way
Always keep in mind that your fellow freshers are in a new environment just as you are. This means you have a common subject to talk about from day 1. Don’t be shy to say hello and ask a few questions about where he/she is from. Meet as many people as you can. It’s important that you start building your network quickly in order to find the people you can best get along with. You’ll feel much more confident in university when you know that you have people around you that you’ve met before and can go talk to.
3) Attend all orientation & workshops
With orientation week you’ll find that 99% of freshers will attend the first sessions of orientation. As soon as things start getting familiar with the students, the attendance for orientation drops to about half by midweek. However, little do they know that these sessions are the most important ones that will help them settle in and adapt quickly. It will help avoid any stress or inconvenience later on when studies commence. Therefore, my advice is to attend all sessions and use these sessions to also socialize and meet new people. Additionally, workshops are also vital for those who need to adapt quickly to the academic side of the university. For example, workshops on academic writing or referencing can give you a head start for your education.
4) Attend all classes
Never forget the purpose of your travel. They say that 80% of success at university is attendance. Attending all your classes will put you on firm ground for having a good first year. If you start regularly skipping class, then trust me things will not go well. If things don’t go well in class, this will only put more pressure and stress on your shoulders and therefore make it harder for you to adapt to your new home.
5) Stay Positive
Yes, there will be times when you become homesick. You’ll miss your family, friends, parents’ food, speaking your native language regularly, your hometown etc. However, these are things that you should expect will happen. It’s about how you go about overcoming these moments. Technology has really helped in communicating with family and friends and I believe has eased this process. Until the technology of teleportation is invented, the other things you miss will have to wait. Just remember to stay positive, remember why you’re there and realize that when this is all over you will look back and say those were the best years of your life.Try to enjoy it as much as you can while keeping your priorities in order.
For students going abroad to study for the first time, these essential tips can take you a long way in settling in quickly. The earlier you can settle in, the quicker your success will come.