Five starter tips for students going abroad

The prospect of studying abroad can seem quite daunting to many of us. Students can spend endless hours online looking for tips, tricks and guides to survival. The important thing to remember is to keep all the finer points of the soon-to-come experience in mind and welcome it with open arms. Think of all the new friends you’ll make, new sights you’ll see and the new learning you’re soon to have. To help you cope with the initial stages of studying abroad, here are a few starter tips to keep in mind:

1)    Be social
During the first few weeks of college, everybody is usually very friendly and social since everyone’s looking to find their clique. Chances are that your classmates, hall mates, etc will invite you to several gatherings and outings. Try to be adventurous and accept as many invites as you can (and want). The initial stages are the easiest to get to know people and find friends. While you’re abroad it is more important than ever to have a strong support system, a group of friends who are there to look out for you and make your experience more fun. Students abroad often suffer from bouts of homesickness periodically and it’s imperative to have friends who will get you through those difficult days. And who knows, if you’re lucky like me, you’ll probably meet some amazing people and find a few new best friends.

2)    Get involved
Your university is bound to have a range of societies and clubs ready to take on freshers. You might even have a societies’ fair during induction week where all the societies on campus will put up stalls and encourage you to join them. Make sure you go to the fair or at least read up on all the different societies, you’re certain to find a few that take your fancy. From bungee jumping, to Harry Potter appreciation, to the Indian society, they cover a whole spectrum of interests and are a great way to meet new people, network and unwind after a long day of studying. Membership is usually a nominal amount that covers you for the entire year and gives you access to all the society’s events. So, get involved with your favourite society, it doesn’t take up much time and it makes for a great escape from the daily grind of studies.

3)    Be inquisitive
Considering that the main reason for studying abroad is, well, ‘studying’; aim to get the most out of your education. Professors abroad generally tend to be quite informal and open to discussion about the subject they’re teaching. Go ahead and be a bit of a geek, ask questions and get all your doubts clarified without any hesitation. After all, you are paying a lot for this degree so you should make sure it’s worth your while. Developing a good rapport with your professors is also a good way of networking. The job market abroad is still pretty tight so if you’ve done your bit and let your professor know your capabilities, he/she is more likely to go the extra mile to help you out with the job seeking process post your degree.

4)    Get the complete experience
Studying abroad is not just about the classroom experience, it’s so much more, it’s about experiencing a new life. Use your spare time to explore and find the route less travelled. Sample the local delicacies, learn about the local culture and consider chatting with the cab drivers/ shopkeepers about their way of life. Get to know the local students and discover how different/similar your lives are. It’s these little things that’ll eventually turn into unforgettable memories you’ll reminisce over later and hopefully make your studying abroad one of the best experiences of your life!

5)    Don’t forget to call home
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of things when you’re abroad. There will be a lot to learn and a lot to experience. Enjoy your time there but be a responsible son/daughter and make sure you don’t for get to call home often. Sending their kids away for studies or work is usually a harrowing experience for parents so they’ll appreciate being updated regularly about your new life. Getting an economical calling card/ phone plan is simple, easy and it’s bound to give your family some well-deserved peace of mind!

Note: The author enjoyed studying abroad for a Masters degree in Marketing at the University of St Andrews, UK.

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