How to Settle in a New Country When Studying Abroad
Studying abroad can be one of the biggest adventures of your life, and is filled with excitement and learning about a new culture. But, let’s be honest, it can be daunting. To help you wipe away those fears, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about settling in a new country when studying abroad!
While the idea of going to university itself is daunting, going to university in a new country is even more so. Many students worldwide choose to study abroad for their bachelors or masters, and end up enjoying the experience thoroughly. But it’s not without its challenges. Language barriers, cultural differences, and simply being so far from home are all aspects that make people hesitate putting in that international university application. Hopefully after reading this article, you’ll have no more fears about studying abroad, and will be eager to try it yourself!
Ok but first off, why should I study abroad?
#1 - Learning about a new culture
“Becoming more culturally diverse and understanding cultural nuances is an important skill”
One of the most obvious benefits is that moving to a new country allows you to immerse yourself in their culture, which can teach you so much about a place. Whether that be trying a different cuisine, meeting new people, or integrating yourself into the local community, becoming more culturally diverse and understanding cultural nuances is an important skill to have in an increasingly globalised working environment. Not only that, but by meeting new people at university who will one day be working in your chosen industry, you will make valuable work contacts for the future.
#2 - Learning a new language
Duolingo might be great to teach you the basics, but there really is no substitute to actually going out and speaking in a new language to learn the ins and outs of it. Ordering at a restaurant, chatting at the supermarket checkout till, or just talking to locals are all great ways to learn more about the country you’re studying in as well as building your skills in their language. Employers really value languages, so it’s always helpful to have a few extra under your belt!
#3 - Wider variety of universities
While each country has its range of universities, when you open your options to the whole world, there are no limits on what you can achieve. To access some of the best universities in the world, you have to be willing to travel across the world to get to them. So don’t limit yourself, the world is your oyster if you’re willing to go out there and explore the universities it has to offer.
“The more you do it, the easier it becomes”
You can usually tell apart students who have moved around or been in international schools from those who have stayed in one country all their life. While there are of course exceptions to both, students who have lived in multiple countries usually tend to be more confident, culturally aware, may even speak multiple languages, and generally carry themselves with more assurance. This is because these are all skills you gain when you move abroad, as you are forced to quickly adapt to new terrain and establish foundations. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. So take that leap of faith to study in a new country. You’ll be ready for any changes life has to throw at you later on.
I’m convinced, but still nervous… how would I settle in?
We’re not here to tell you that settling in a new country is without its struggles. We’re here to tell you that it’s possible, and it’s worth it. To help you settle in and make the most of it, read on for our top tips on settling in a new country when studying abroad.
Tip #1 - Embrace the change
While this may seem like an obvious one, it’s very easy for students to retreat into themselves and not really embrace the new country and all it has to offer. While this is understandable when faced with a completely new place, it’s not going to be the most helpful. Once you accept the fact that you’re in a new country and have to adapt, actually doing it will be much easier. One tip: it might sound counterintuitive, but stop calling your parents so often. While it’s great to call regularly (and they’ll also be wanting you to call), calling up whenever you’re feeling lonely won’t really help the homesickness go away. Instead, it’ll make it worse. When you’re feeling lonely, try instead to go out and explore the place you’re in, meet up with some of your flatmates, or join clubs and societies offered by your university. Whatever it is, always try to make sure you’re doing something that will help you settle in, and not retreat back into your comfort zone.
Tip #2 - Try something new!
Another obvious one, but one of the criteria of settling into a new country is being willing to try new things. That could be the local cuisine, or local activities and festivals. Each country will have something unique to offer, so go out there and see what that is. The more you’re willing to try new things, the less daunting the whole process will feel, as you will resist the change much less.
“The more you’re willing to try new things, the less daunting the whole process will feel”
Tip #3 - Form a good support network
Change is tough, but it’s much easier going through it if you know others around you are also going through the same thing. Try to create a support network of friends who you can talk to about the change, or even who can explore the new country with you. Whether these friends are locals (and can help you settle in) or newcomers like you (who can learn and explore with you), going through it together is better than going through it alone!
Tip #4 - Language
This is perhaps one of the easiest first steps to take in settling in a new country, and your university will most likely offer language classes to help you acclimatise. Learning the language will not only help you in day-to-day life, but will also help you to feel more like you belong and have started to settle in. Speaking a new language can be daunting, but once people see you making an effort, they will help out. Little things like being able to pick up what people around you are saying, or understanding the signposts around, can have a great mental impact on how you’re settling in and make you feel like you’re really getting there. Plus, languages are a great skill to have on your CV. So what are you waiting for? Check out if your university offers any local language classes!
Tip #5 - Integrate into the community
“Your university will most likely offer a range of societies to help you interact with the locals”
This is one of the hardest parts of settling in a new country, and usually comes after the first few tips. Integrating into the community doesn’t just mean sightseeing them from afar; it means actually going in and joining local sports clubs, or working at local cafes or grocery stores. You’ll need to have at least some basis in the local language, but once people see you starting to make an effort, they will help you along to settle in. Your university will most likely offer a range of societies to help you interact with the locals through sport, music or art, so see what they have to offer and get out there! You’ll be surprised at how much more fun it can make studying abroad.
Now you know all the reasons to study abroad, and some of the tips on how to do it like a pro. While each person settles in differently (and there is no correct timeline to do it), following these few tips can help to ease the process a bit. And trust us, nearly every student who studies abroad says it’s been one of the best experiences in their life, and have made lifelong friends. Sign yourself up for a free consultation to plan your next steps!