Studying abroad is a great way to experience a foreign lifestyle, explore new interests, learn a new language, and make friends. If you get the chance to live in another country, you should make the most of it. I got the chance to study abroad in London, United Kingdom for a year in 2015. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. In London, I switched majors, experienced the British lifestyle, traveled around Europe, and went to many historic cities. I also made friends from all over the world. That year had a profound impact on my life.
Studying abroad means going to a completely different environment. Based on my own experience, I have summarized my 10 tips for study abroad.
- Plan and research the country
When you receive the chance to study abroad and decide to go, you should start planning and researching your future life and the country you are going to. For example, the local climate, geography, and customs. Lonely Planet is a good reference for research. They have different book series for different cities.
- Manage your finances
An important component of studying abroad is knowing how to manage your finances. Understanding the local consumption habits: is it customary to use cash or credit cards? Do you need to tip at the restaurants? You should set a budget for yourself each month, and calculate the money for your daily life and the money for travel separately. Even if your visa allows you to work my advice is that you use the time to explore the city and culture.
- Prepare to be independent
Study abroad can be lonely. You have to leave your hometown and there might be a completely different way of dealing with life in the new country. You need to figure them out all by yourself. You cannot always find a travel companion, and at the time you might have to travel alone. But stay strong and immerse yourself in this unique experience. Those who have experienced study abroad will definitely feel more independent.
- Get a camera
Why not? You’re going to live in another country. Wouldn’t it be amazing to use a camera to record your life, the local people, culture, and art? This will not only enrich your social media but also create wonderful memories of your life abroad. If you are good at photography, you can even participate in the photo exhibitions. Mobile phone cameras might be able to meet the needs of tourists, but a good camera can turn out to be a great investment.
- Learn the language
English is not the only language in this world. If you choose to study in a non-English speaking country, it is better to study the local language. This will not only facilitate communication but also help you understand the local culture. Take a language class or make new friends who can teach you the basics. The best way to learn the language is to speak the language.
- Travel around as often as you can
The city where you are studying might be located in a country or region that is full of tourist attractions. With high-speed rail and low-cost airlines, you can easily explore the nearby cities. Why not take advantage of this opportunity? Travel as often and as possible, as your budget and schedule allow. There is an old saying in China: Reading thousands of books is not as good as traveling thousands of miles. Reading is good, but don’t let go of the opportunity to explore new places.
- Study first
This seems to be contrary to the previous one, but it isn’t really. After all, if you are supposed to go to the country to study, then completing your course is definitely the most important thing. Study abroad programs generally are fun and full of interesting activities, so do not miss out on classes. When I was in London, for example, I learned the differences between the UK and China at a professional level, so as to cultivate me to think about my major and profession from a deeper and global horizon
- Get an international student ID card (ISIC)
Not all countries will recognize your regular college identification card. That’s where the international student ID card comes in handy. This is a convenient card recognized internationally. This card will be recognized in many places, including museums such as the Louvre.
- Step out of your comfort zone
Choosing to study abroad has already shown that you are willing to leave your comfort zone. Since you have left your familiar country, language, and culture to experience a new life, why not go further? Try more adventures! If you are used to being alone, then meet new friends who have a completely different cultural background. If you are timid, then try skydiving and bungee jumping. If you always order takeaway, then start cooking yourself… New life will always reveal new potentials to you.
- Make friends from all over the world
You go to a new country and have become a foreigner. There must also be many foreigners from other countries. It is important not only to make friends with locals but also to make friends with these foreigners. Making friends with them can expand your network, and they can also provide you with many insights and inspirations for your life. When I was in London, I met an Austrian who gave me a lot of useful tips and suggestions for my travels in Vienna at the time. We’re still in touch.
Studying abroad is a journey. You may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but looking back, it will certainly be an unforgettable adventure!