5 things I wish I knew before I left for my studies abroad
I am sure most of you must have started packing your bags to head out of your home country and explore the world outside. And there’s no doubt that studying abroad is the best way to studies, travel and a foreign degree strutting out in your CV. But I wish I had someone who told me the few things to keep in mind while going abroad
I know you just uttered ‘DUH! We know that!’ But believe me when I say this, the way emotions take a toll on you when you are in a strange land is just ineffable. I have stayed independently for almost 10 years now and I was the considered the last person who will ever be homesick; but it’s just inevitable. I have seen many of my classmates going through hell just because they were not able to deal with this sudden change, the cultural shock, the lack of intimacy, the unfamiliar stares, and homesickness – in short yearning for the known.
Therefore keep yourself open to changes, mix with people, call your folks back home regularly and never try to confine yourself in a room.
2. Adjusting to the time difference
Actually #1 and #2 are interlinked. It’s been 9 months for me, studying abroad. It took me around at least 2 months to adjust with the time difference and about 9 months for my parents. Your parents, like mine, might try to get you excited about the sparrows chirping in the morning when you are trying to sleep off your assignment or project deadline. And not to forget your heart-broken friends looking for advises (I am sure it’s an emergency but if you have somebody whose heart breaks thrice in a month you sure can ditch the call 😛 ) Best way to avoid this is to fix a time for your parents and friends (excluding emergencies) to call or chat, so that they don’t feel excluded out of your life and you to get share theirs.
Just recently I saw video demystifying ‘stuff Indian students bring in their luggage’. Stereotypically 9 out of 15 things were food items/condiments and since I hate stereotypes I did not pack any spices or food items with me and even when people asked me to, I laughed to it.
Spoiler alert even if you are not a cook like me, you will be urged to cook your country’s cuisine and then you will surely crib about the unavailability of those items. Therefore, pack 1 month inventory of all the essential spices and things you think you might not find easily.
It goes without saying that cooking and eating together is way cheaper. There is no better way to learn about other cultures than inviting people for dinner and sharing dishes from different countries.
This is again bad news for people who dress up casually (non traditional) and had no qualms packing for abroad since you have all the essential things to wear abroad. Ideally being an international student you represent your country abroad and undoubtedly every international program has an intercultural fest, to get you acquainted with fellow classmates and relate with the countries they come from. So if in case you did not pack your traditional suit since its heavy and flashy, reconsider your decision. You will feel alienated when everyone flaunts their traditional dress and you sport a jeans (unless that’s your traditional dress). Nothing is more exhilarating than dressing up in your traditional clothes and celebrating your festivals with other people around. It brings a sense of pride and joy.
This is the last and maybe the most important one. If you are like Uncle Scrooge who knows where his single penny goes to, then kudos you can just stop reading here; but if you are a spendthrift who is clueless about how does the money vanish from your account every month. You have to plan the budget strictly.
Acquaint yourself with rent, food prices and travel expenses and then allocate your monthly expenditure. Don’t make impractical budget and leave scope for crest and troughs. I avoid using shopping with debit cards and withdraw money from my account monthly according to usage. This has proven to be working well for me. I will give you a heads up here; every time you shop you will keep exchanging the currency in your head, its normal but try to avoid it after some time. There are also apps like Expensify, MoneyWise that can be used to manage the budget Smartphone style.
So these are the things I wish i knew before I left to study abroad.
Lastly there are not set rules on what will be good or what will be bad for you. It’s all an experience which depends largely on your perspective, on what you take out of any situation. I would have never been able to pen down these thoughts, if I never had these experiences to relate with. So just be yourself and stay unrestrained to make the best of your time abroad.
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