Adventures Abroad: Tips for Exchange Students Exploring New Countries
by Dave Landry Jr.
Starting a new academic year abroad can be both challenging and rewarding. Studying abroad is not only a great way to learn more but also a way to see the world and make new friendships. However, starting a life in a foreign country can be daunting and stressful. Being away from friends and family can make living on your own in a new country scary.
Fighting homesickness and adjusting to a new culture are just some challenges that exchange students might face on their new academic adventure. Here are some tips to help make your adjustment easier so that you take in all the benefits of studying in a new country.
1. Explore Your New Home Right Away
Once you land in your new host country step outside and get to know the area. Getting out and exploring right away will help you become familiar with your new city as well as help get you adjusted to the time differences. Making plans to start exploring right away will also help you combat homesickness. Immersing yourself in your new country can help distract you from missing home and will also help you get the most out of your stay.
2. Make Friends With Locals
Making new friends with locals will help you get settled in quicker. Introducing yourself to new people at bars or local hangouts can get you out of your shell as well as give you the inside scoop on where the best places to eat, shop, and do your laundry are. Locals know your new city better than anyone else so getting to know a few people outside of your classes can help you expand your network and have a much more successful stay abroad.
3. Connect with Other Exchange Students
While locals can help you connect with the city, no one will understand the experience you are going through better than other exchange students. Most likely you will already be set up with a club or course with other exchange students at your college. Many exchange students have a shared interest or academic goal and getting to know these students will help you learn which courses to take, how to secure scholarships, and where to go if you need help. However, making an effort to be involved with other exchange students will also help. You can explore the new area together or even set up excursions to travel together during your free time.
4. Say “Yes”
Your time abroad is limited so never make the mistake of missing out on experiences. You will likely be invited to many events by other students as well as local friends. Make an effort to always accept an invitation as these are often opportunities to learn more about the culture as well as meet new people.
5. Don’t Stay Home or Online
The best way to get over a dose of homesickness is to keep busy and preoccupied. If you find yourself feeling homesick, take a walk or invite a friend to explore a new area. It can be easy to shut yourself in your room and log on to the internet for hours when you are feeling down. Reaching out to friends can be a helpful way to get you out of your funk. Try to remember you are there to enjoy your experience and that it will go by quicker than you think. Do not find yourself regretting not checking out that restaurant or going to that mixer just because you were feeling homesick.
6. Learn the Language
Going back to immersing yourself in your new country, learning the local language can help your experience immensely. Do not let language barriers with locals deter you. Try to at least learn basic greetings and ordering at a restaurant. Learning a language is hard but locals will appreciate any effort you put into trying to communicate with them.
7. Have an Open Mind
Doing an exchange program abroad is more than just taking classes in a new country. It is about learning about a new culture and understanding that there is a bigger world around you with different people, places, and languages. While abroad try to keep an open mind and try not to compare things to the way it might be at home. You are there to make new experiences and part of that is accepting that you might have to be outside of your comfort zone a lot of the time.
More often than not exchange students have little regrets about their time abroad. Remember to enjoy the time you have in a new country and make an effort to learn about an unfamiliar culture. Studying abroad is a great time for you to explore not just your academics but the world.
This article was shared with us by CollegeWeekLive.
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