Study Abroad Challenges for International Students

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study abroad challenges

After finishing all the tests, essays, and interviews required to be selected, the last thing we feel like doing is thinking about the serious aspects of studying abroad. It’s always a good idea to be informed of the typical problems students have encountered overseas in order to be prepared for them before getting on the plane. Here are some study-abroad challenges a student could encounter while studying abroad and also tips on how to deal with them.

Benefits of Abroad Education

Studying abroad has many advantages that go beyond what is taught in a foreign classroom, thus following are good reasons to do so:

  • It broadens cultural awareness: Viewpoints are frequently constrained by one’s surroundings, therefore studying abroad gives students the ability to view things from a different angle. The purpose of this is to give the learner the opportunity to build empathy but not directly challenge or change their opinions. Researchers found that studying abroad broadens one’s cultural awareness and understanding of various worldviews, ways of life, and customs. 
  • It broadens a person’s horizons: College students, particularly freshmen who could be living alone in a new city or state for the first time, are frequently exposed to novel customs and pastimes. These experiences might be fairly familiar even if they are dissimilar from what individuals are used to. On the other side, a student is completely out of their comfort zone when they spend a long time in a foreign country. It helps students to be creative in their adaptation to a culture that is different from their own. Additionally, students gain important life skills including how to manage daily tasks like budgeting, shopping, cleaning, etc.
  • It improves learning opportunities: Study abroad participants had improved study habits and increased task confidence, according to research by Jenny et al. (2017). Academically, students who study abroad perform better than their colleagues who did not study abroad, as seen by a rise in their grade point average after returning home. Study abroad students showed increased intellectual growth in terms of self-confidence and self-reliability in the classroom, as well as increased ability to understand meaningful connections across intercultural contexts, according to the results of a student self-assessment survey and faculty observations (Ingraham & Peterson, 2004).
  • It improves opportunities for employment: Graduates from foreign studies frequently astonish employers with their global viewpoint and in-depth knowledge of people from many cultures. As a result, they offer the highest chances for positions involving a group of executives and worldwide commercial partners. In fact, according to the findings of the 2011 QS Global Employer Survey, six out of ten companies frequently grant extra credit to students who have studied abroad. Additionally, according to the same study, fast-moving consumer goods companies (63%) and energy (71%), travel and hospitality (64%), electronics and technology (64%), consulting and professional services (63%), and fast-moving consumer goods (64%), are some of the industries that are looking for international graduates (Molony, Sowter, & Potts, 2011).

Study Abroad Challenges for International Students

While studying abroad has benefits, it also presents a unique set of difficulties. Studying abroad raises a number of significant problems, including homesickness, being too far from home, the curriculum’s course requirements, money, linguistic and cultural difficulties, and health and dietary concerns. Even if some of these study abroad challenges are unavoidable, it’s crucial for international students to understand them better so they can better prepare for them.

Financial Burden

It can be expensive to study abroad. Unless they come from an affluent background, international students frequently struggle financially while pursuing their degrees. Naturally, their tuition is substantially higher than it is for courses offered locally. Even at free universities, one may find overseas, expenses like lodging, food, and transportation may still be incurred.

In addition to the costs associated with attending school, moving to a new country may involve additional costs for things like adjusting to daily life and taking part in local cultural activities. The inability of international students with restrictive study visas to work outside of campus may make it difficult for them to supplement their income. These may be the explanations for why study abroad students’ top adjustment challenges included a lack of enough financial resources.

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Accommodation

After tuition, housing costs are typically ranked as the second-highest expense for international students. This is perhaps understandable because while your time abroad, this residence will serve as your “home.” A number of factors, such as a long commute to college, living in an undesirable area of town, having unclear rent rules, having bad neighbours, or simply having subpar amenities, can make life much more difficult.

Assuring that what you see online matches what you receive in person may be the most challenging aspect of the accommodation procedure. International property managers who work hand-in-hand with renowned local property managers to gather the most up-to-date information on rents, leases, points of contact, etc. and guarantee a hassle-free stay for their clients are a relatively new alternative for students.

Barriers to Language and Culture

In particular, during their first few months, international students deal with a variety of academic issues as well as linguistic and cultural hurdles. If students can’t overcome the language and cultural barriers, their academic performance will especially suffer. Additional language instruction is typically provided to international students who are not fluent in English, although frequently the structure of these lessons is not intended to address the academic requirements.

Many students, particularly those from India, have trouble managing completely on their own. Particularly for students accustomed to large joint families, this is true. Diet, temperature (Europe is generally colder and darker), comfort level with regard to nightlife activities, etc. are a few further small cultural distinctions. While none of these things is particularly significant on their own, it is still a good idea to get used to them before they start to negatively impact your quality of life.

Health and Dietary Concerns

Health and dietary issues are other major studies abroad challenges for international students. International students have a strong emotional need for food that is both full and familiar, much like they have for housing. The value of tasty, recognisable food in the overall experience of the visiting student has been acknowledged by educators. Students who adhere to rigorous dietary regulations, such as those that are vegetarian, kosher, or halal, may find this to be especially true. 

Psychological Factors

Unsurprisingly, students experience a range of emotions while they are away from home. Excitement, anxiety, reassurance, etc. While the majority of them are normal and even helpful, there are some negative thought patterns that students could encounter while studying abroad.

It is inevitable that finding familiar faces as a student in a foreign place will become difficult. In reaction to this psychological pressure, students may experience severe homesickness, feelings of isolation, or even destructive coping techniques. Additionally, research indicates that international students are less motivated to seek help than their domestic counterparts and are more vulnerable to mental pressures.

Tips to Deal with Study Abroad Challenges

Following are the tips to deal with study abroad challenges for international students: 

  • Proper Budgeting: However, generally speaking, international financial stability depends on prudent spending and planning, which are done primarily by parents (which is up to you, the student). As you become more familiar with your new environment, you will inevitably be able to judge the costs more accurately. This will allow you to strike a balance between maintaining a respectable level of living and achieving long-term objectives. Fortunately, you are no longer required to handle all of that financial burden by yourself. The technical components of student loans, banking, FX, and other forms of financial aid are areas in which several international student finance platforms excel.
  • Do well research for accommodation: The majority of accommodation-related difficulties can be avoided with adequate planning. You can focus on specific neighbourhoods you want to live in by researching the boroughs and transportation options in your location. Furthermore, significant segments of the real estate industry are devoted to college students in well-known student destinations like the UK. Purpose-built student accommodations, often known as PBSAs (Purpose Built Student Accommodation), are a type of little-known student housing that is entirely tailored to meet the needs of students, from the rent to the layout to the amenities provided. Only when you look at how the nation’s students live in college cities can you reach such housing market niches.
  • Necessary precautions for your health concerns: The majority of health and dietary concerns can be overcome by taking precautions such as taking necessary medicines with you, ready-to-eat food, learning basic cooking, avoiding food which is allergic and including health insurance in your planning.
  • Learn to network with locals: When in Rome, generally speaking, follow Roman customs. It can be helpful to prevent embarrassing situations and allow for more seamless interactions by being aware of the unspoken rules of a city, such as what subjects to avoid and how formal you should be. Even though it could be simpler and more convenient to hang out with other citizens or international students, this limits a student’s opportunity to learn more about other cultures. It is best to meet new people and participate in cultural exchanges by going to events, parties, or group activities. Speaking with locals offers additional practice chances for developing communication skills. The experience of a visiting student can be enhanced by looking through student organisations and selecting which ones to join. Making friends and contacts outside of the classroom greatly expands one’s network and can be beneficial after graduation.
  • Ask for help: Fortunately, these difficulties are being lessened as more foreign students become aware of them and are encouraged to ask for assistance when they require it. Most institutions now offer on-staff counsellors who will listen to students and help them as needed clinically or psychologically. 

Students who study abroad gain a worldwide perspective that can be useful in a global market. Even a brief course or a semester spent studying abroad can benefit the student long-term. Those who are thinking of taking advantage of this opportunity must also be ready for the various study abroad challenges. Do you need any help in managing your finances and finding accommodation? then connect with our Leverage Edu experts to minimise your difficulties. 

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