11 Things To Expect When Studying Abroad

Are you thinking of studying abroad? Or perhaps you’re already signed up and ready to go. Either way, we’ve put together a list of what to expect when studying abroad, to make that little bit more prepared as you embark on a new adventure.

The opportunity to study abroad can be an incredibly enriching experience both culturally and socially, as well as academically. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in a new country, culture and way of life and no matter where you choose to study abroad, you’re likely to leave a little piece of your heart behind when you leave. But studying abroad can feel daunting to many, which is why we’ve done our best to help you with what to expect.

11 Things To Expect When Studying Abroad

1. Embrace the Unknown

Imagine standing in a bustling market, the scents of unfamiliar spices tickling your nose and the chatter of locals filling your ears. It’s like being in a dream where everything’s vivid, yet strange. You’ll find yourself grinning at the sheer thrill of the unknown. Embrace it. There’s a world of infinite possibilities at your fingertips.

2. Be Prepared To Feel A Culture Shock

Now, let’s talk about culture shock. It can feel like one day you’re loving the newness of it all, and the next, you’re longing for a taste of home. You’ll laugh at how locals eat breakfast at dinner time, scratch your head at customs that seem bizarre, and maybe even cringe at things that seem like a social faux pas. But trust in the fact that you’ll adapt and it will all soon begin to feel more familiar.

3. You will make friends, even if it doesn’t feel that way at first

You might worry about making friends which is a very common reservation when it comes to studying abroad. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, each with their own tales and quirks. Start conversations with a simple “Hey, where’re you from?” and watch as the ice melts. Before you know it, you’ll have a group of friends who can open your eyes up to so many different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles. Often the shared experience of studying abroad can be enough to bond friends for life.

4. Learning the Lingo

Speaking basics of the local language and learning the local customs will enhance your overall experience. Imagine ordering food in a crowded café, using your freshly learned phrases, and getting a nod of approval from the waiter. Nailed it! Remember, you wouldn’t knock someone for trying to speak English when it’s not their first language. So why would it be any different when you speak a second language? Slowly, you’ll pick up slang and phrases that locals use. Once you do that, life gets a little easier. It’s like cracking a secret code.

5. Academic Adventures

Whether you’re pursuing an online hospitality degree or attending classes in centuries-old buildings, the academic system might be totally different from what you’re used to. New teaching styles and unfamiliar grading systems make it a bit of a head-scratcher at first. But soon enough, you’ll find your groove. You’ll discover new subjects, meet professors who challenge you and gain new perspectives that broaden your horizons. It’s not just about hitting the books; it’s about expanding your understanding of the world.

6. The Food Scene

If there’s one thing that’ll keep you going through the ups and downs, it’s the culinary delights. From street food to fancy restaurants, your taste buds are in for a treat. You’ll try dishes you can’t pronounce, eat things you never thought you would, and fall in love with flavours that are out of this world. If you enjoy cooking, you could also try a local cooking class to see how dishes are made. You’ll be able to take the recipes back home with you too.

7. Homesickness: A Bitter-Sweet Companion

Homesickness can often hit you out of nowhere, like a ton of bricks. One moment you’re fine, and the next, you’re missing home-cooked meals, your bed, and the familiar faces of loved ones. It’s tough. But here’s the silver lining: it makes you stronger. You learn to cherish the little things, find comfort in new routines, and before long, the foreign becomes familiar. And when you finally do go home, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for everything you once took for granted.

8. Personal Growth and Self-Discovery

Studying abroad isn’t just about academics or sightseeing. It’s about personal growth. It’s about finding yourself in the chaos and learning to stand tall. You’ll face challenges you never anticipated, solve problems on the fly, and discover strengths you didn’t know you had. It’s a journey of self-discovery that’s as rewarding as it is demanding. By the time you return, you’ll be a different person—more confident, more resilient, and more open-minded.

9. Navigating the Bureaucracy

Dealing with visas, paperwork, and all that bureaucratic jazz can sometimes feel like a total nightmare. It may even be enough to put you off studying abroad all together. But hang in there. It’s all part of the process. You’ll jump through hoops, fill out forms, and maybe even tear your hair out a couple of times. But once you get past the red tape, it’s smooth sailing. And honestly, it’s a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime.

10. Embracing Spontaneity

One of the best parts about studying abroad is the spontaneity. Weekend trips to neighbouring cities, last-minute plans with friends, and unexpected adventures? They’re the stuff of dreams. You’ll find yourself saying yes to opportunities you’d normally shy away from. And those spontaneous moments? They’re the ones you’ll remember most fondly.

11. The Final Farewell

When it’s time to leave, it’ll be bittersweet. You’ll have mixed feelings—a part of you eager to go home, another part clinging to the life you’ve built. Saying goodbye to the friends you’ve made and the places you’ve grown to love will be tough. But remember, it’s not really goodbye. You’ve built a new global network and the memories, the lessons, the growth? They stay with you forever.

Are you ready to take the plunge to study abroad? To dive headfirst into a whirlwind of experiences that’ll change your life? Studying abroad is more than just an academic endeavour—it’s a journey that shapes who you are and who you’ll become. Go on, pack your bags and take the leap. The world is waiting, and trust us, you won’t regret it.

Read Next: 6 Ways Travelling Can Change Your Life.

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.

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