14 Most Common Challenges You Will Face While Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is an adventure filled with excitement and fun, however, it also includes some challenges. Before you embark on one of the most important journeys of your life, it is best to familiarize yourself with the most common problems a student abroad might face. This will enable you to prepare for how you can deal with each. This article covers those difficulties and includes some tips on how to cope with them.

1. Being far from your support network

When everything around you is unfamiliar, it’s normal to feel homesick. This situation will hit you hardest when you’re bored, so it is best to always try to stay active. If you are more engaged with your daily activities, you’ll think less about home and the things you left behind. Also, while building up a new support network, stay up to date with what’s happening back home by regularly calling your loved ones. 

Overcome homesickness while studying abroad by reading this article.

2. Overcoming the language barrier

You can feel isolated when living in a country where no one speaks your language. Language barrier prevents you from interacting healthily within your host culture. To communicate, you may use body language or charades to show what you mean. However, using gestures may be interpreted differently and may even offend someone. Locals and other students will understand you better if you can express yourself using apt vocabulary. To find the right words you can use easily, install foreign language apps on your phone or have a handy translation dictionary. 

A good way to speed up your learning is by enrolling in an English class at Lingualbox. Try conversation class or useful expression to get comfortable with communicating. The more you practice your words, the more you’ll remember them and be more confident in speaking.

3. Getting lost

While exploring an unfamiliar place, you may experience getting lost. Your initial response may be to freak out, however, you need not panic.  When this happens consider it as having an adventure across the city. Remain calm even if it is during late hours of the night or you are stuck in a sketchy part of town. To make sure you are always prepared, learn helpful phrases that you can say about finding your way home. Also, you can use travel guidebooks or install a navigation app on your phone. Don’t forget to have emergency cash and helpline numbers of locals as well. 

4. Getting used to currency differences

Getting used to currency differences is another challenging process when studying abroad. You need to be familiar with the conversion to avoid spending more money than you should. Practice how to mentally figure out prices when buying things by having your own quick conversion system. Also, always ask the price to vendors before you buy to familiarize yourself with the “normal” price for staple items. Also, be aware of whether taxes are already included in the prices. Some countries do not include taxes instantly, so it must be calculated on top of the price presented on the product.

5. Budgeting

As you stay abroad, you may struggle in budgeting as you’re juggling living expenses and study expenses. Worries about your finances may cause you to feel alone and stressful. However, take this as a learning opportunity on how to develop a budget and manage money. Some strategies you can use to make sure you have enough cash while you’re away from home, are sticking to your monthly budget and paying your bills on time to avoid delayed payment fees. Moreover, buy only the necessities and ask locals about the best spots for shopping. You also can go for different freelance gigs or part-time work opportunities to earn extra money for your other expenses and save for emergencies.

6. Adapting to a new time zone

Initially, getting adjusted to the new time zone may be challenging. It may take some time for your body to get used to your new schedule and lifestyle. At first, you may have to check which time is suitable for which time zone and call late evening or early morning to keep in touch with your loved ones back home. To cope up with the time zone differences, you can try to remember the time difference by memory or use time-keeping apps. 

7. Coping with cultural differences

Every country has different cultural standards which you may find difficult to fit in initially. When you feel disoriented in another culture, it is normal to experience culture shock. The best way to deal with cultural misunderstandings is to research cultural differences and understand their traditions and customs. You can also observe what others do, and how they do something. Moreover, you can ask for help from friends for guidance. Most people are happy to talk about their customs and will enjoy sharing their insider knowledge with you.

Learn more about beating culture shock, by reading this article

8. Finding food that you like

Food varies from country to country as every culture has differences in tastes and flavors. Its staple food, flavoring, and food preparation may be different from what you are used to. It can be difficult to be distanced from your comfort food as it affects your appetite. If you’re a picky eater, you can be more adventurous by trying the local food. However, if you find trouble in finding a dish that your stomach could digest or accommodate your dietary needs, you can research regional cuisines you can enjoy during your stay abroad. If you worry that some food might upset your stomach, courteously ask what food is made of.

9. Feeling like an outsider

Regardless of where you are from, and what country you are going to, you may feel like being out of place or separated initially. Since you are surrounded by unknown faces, unfamiliar practices and hear a different language you may find it overwhelming and feel like an outsider. Also, it can be a challenge to find like-minded people at first. To find people who can actually be your friends, expand your circle by joining in some social and activity clubs. Start befriending at least one local, and eventually cultivate meaningful relationships across cultural boundaries. Soon, you’ll start to feel more safe and relaxed in your new country, instead of separated and awkward. 

10. Dealing with the difference in academic practices and new learning styles

Each country has its own unique style of teaching which foreign students may find difficult to get acquainted with. Finding a different method of providing information to what you are used to may create issues for you as a student. When you experience this, think of it as a way to adapt to various educational backgrounds and expand your academic boundary. To be prepared, it is best to have an idea of the learning style that you are going to experience for the course that you have enrolled prior to attending the class. 

11. Familiarizing yourself with foreign products and brands

Finding the daily products you use back home may be a challenge to find them in your host country, hence it is best to look for alternatives. The sooner you get rid of the dependency on those products, the easier it will be for you to adapt. To find a good alternative, you can ask your friends or seek the recommendation of the sellers. Also, you can read product reviews on the internet. While looking for suitable alternatives you may end up finding a much better product. 

12. Dealing with a foreign climate

You’ll only really know what the weather is like when you stay in a particular place. To keep yourself protected regardless of the weather, make sure you wear appropriate clothing. To have those suitable clothes, bring only the bare essentials on your travel and shop for the rest when you have arrived in your host country. Chances are the clothes that are sold in your new country are weather appropriate, hence it wouldn’t be hard for you to find them. You can also buy at second-hand clothing stores if you have a concern about the budget. 

13. Getting sick

While staying for a longer period in a certain place, you may experience getting sick. Since you have to take care of yourself alone, this can make you feel lonely. Ergo, it would be helpful to keep in touch with your loved ones back home. Also, it is best to know where nearby medical facilities and pharmacies are located ahead of time. While living abroad, maintain a balanced diet and regular exercise to keep your immune system strong and prevent yourself from getting sick.

14. The struggle of doing house chores and laundry

Part of living independently abroad is doing all the chores at home including the laundry by yourself. You have to include this in your schedule on top of going to school, doing your assignment, exploring new places, and meeting friends. At times, doing your house chores can make you feel like you don’t have enough energy or time to get everything done. A way to find balance and manage your time properly is to make a weekly schedule. If your schedule is too hectic, try to take out one of the activities, to prevent yourself from being overly stressed and busy. 

Traveling abroad for educational purposes is an eye-opening experience and an opportunity for growth, however, it also entails some challenges. Overcoming these obstacles will help you to develop a sense of independence, and prepare you for adulthood.  With more experience, you’ll develop skills and discover how you can manage on your own. If you follow the tips above and prepare accordingly you can deal with the challenges properly. 

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Author
Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content copywriter and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, gardening, education, health and wellness, and humanitarian topics. When not writing she is mostly seen gardening or traveling to different parts of the country.