We’ve all seen the social media posts of people on exchange. They’re in a different city every weekend with their new friends from all four corners of the world – they really are living their best life. What they don’t show are their low moments – their midnight breakdowns in someone’s kitchen or their Skyscanner searches for flights home. While I’m sure some people sail through their time abroad without any hiccups, many will have times when they feel down, and that is completely ok. Here are some of the things no one tells you about studying abroad, and how to get through them.
You will get frustrated – a lot
You’ve been on holiday before, you know what it’s like to be in a foreign country so you’ll be fine living abroad – right? Not always. Whether it’s the education system, the healthcare system or just doing your weekly shop, cultural differences can be really frustrating. Although it is interesting to see the differences, sometimes you just want things to be like they are at home. You crave a certain brand, you want to be an anonymous face in the lecture theatre again, or you want to get around town without getting lost. By the end of Canadian Winter I just wanted to go outside without 14 layers on! Be patient; these things are all part of the experience. In a few months time you’ll be able to deal with them like a local .
FOMO is real
Your uni friends are carrying on with their lives, often living together, and it’s hard not to feel left out. Whilst they definitely have not forgotten about you, it’s easy to convince yourself that they have. Relax – you’ll go back and everything will be as you left it. You’ll all have stories to tell from your time apart and you’ll fall back into the group like you never left. (Plus, you’ll have loads of other friends from all around the world – bonus!)
You’ll feel guilty about not always feeling happy
There is a pressure constantly looming over you when you’re abroad that makes you feel guilty if you are not having a good time 24/7. Of course, this expectation is ridiculous, but for some reason it’s always on your mind. Remember that is so fine to feel down – you’re in a new environment adapting to a new life, it’s going to be overwhelming! You’re not ungrateful or selfish, you’re human, and humans don’t always have to be happy.
You probably will get homesick
Same as when you moved to uni for the first time, homesickness is likely to strike. For me, it always came when I first arrived and as I got closer to going home. I would count down the days until my flight and wish my time away. Looking back I regret it so much, but in the moment it’s hard to see past it! As cliche as it sounds, distract yourself. Break the semester down into manageable chunks and keep in touch with everyone back home. When you’re missing home you have a habit of glorifying it when in reality, nothing really changes.
This post isn’t supposed to scare anyone. Studying abroad is an incredible experience, however it isn’t perfect – life isn’t perfect! There are days of my year abroad I would relive if I could, but a few I would just like to forget about.
If you’re studying abroad any have any questions at all, please ask me them via the Tyfy website/ comments – I’m more than happy to have a chat.
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