ADAPTING TO LIFE AS A STUDENT OVERSEAS
Seeing that a number of young people will be leaving our shores for greener pastures to study, we have decided to comply a little something for them because life away from home isn’t as rosy as it may seem. Life after high school is not as easy as it seems to be, as there are a number of challenges faced by university students. Imagine how stressful it is being a student in a university thousands of miles away from home. Even though it seems like an exciting prospect it comes with a bucket load of stress and needs you to stay focused, be positive, open-minded and remember that your number one goal is to go back home with that degree! Studying abroad or overseas has a number of advantages but one should not forget that it needs one to mature immediately and be focused. This is not to scare you, but prepare you just in case you decide to study overseas. One of the first hardships you will encounter is language barrier. This challenge is commonly experienced by students moving to countries where a different language is used and this is not common worldwide. This makes you vulnerable as it is difficult to communicate. My first week at school was draining because as we were shopping for some necessities it was difficult to communicate as a majority of the local people speak Turkish and even if they speak English it is to a certain limit (we often used Google translate). The language barriers immediately make you homesick, and have second thoughts about the place. Even if you are in an English speaking country there may be slight differences in the way some things are called or the different accents may be overwhelming for one. This should not discourage you because you will adapt in no time. I would advise you to be open-minded and be willing to learn new things, which in return will make your life easier.Culture-shock is another challenge faced by a number of international students in all parts of the world. Lack of universality in cultural practices means that a practice that is common in one region may be discouraged in another region. This may bring about emotional and physical discomfort to international students. For instance where I study (North Cyprus) it’s a Muslim country therefore Christian holidays are not recognised which is quite difficult if you come from a Christian background. Easters and Christmas, we will be busy with school in case you are asking how this is difficult.Another good example is in Africa we are generally respectful people(especially Swazi’s) and are willing to help (in the 21st century this can be widely debated), this is different on the other side of the hemisphere, meeting someone on the street and not greeting them is normal, using your left hand when receiving something from someone and less use of PLEASE and THANK YOU are some of the common things which most Africans are not accustomed to.Culture changes may also be experienced in the type of food offered; food offered widely in Swaziland may not be widely offered somewhere else in the world. For example in some countries pork or beef may not be widely available because of different reasons like in North Cyprus pork is not widely available as it is a Muslim country (it is there but not WIDELY available). The change in food makes it even harder to adapt to that particular place because food is of paramount importance. In order to overcome this challenge, I advise you to swiftly adapt to the practices of the local people in order to feel at home.As you may have learnt in feography different regions experience different climates and weather, proving to be a major challenge for any international students. Adapting from one climatic condition to another may be quite challenging at the beginning. In order for this process to be easy ensure that you do thorough research on the place you travelling to so that you may be well prepared and have the suitable clothing to adapt to the new conditions you may be facing.One of the things most university students cannot run away from is being homesick; because leaving your family is hard as you face great challenges all on your own in a new country. Leaving home and going to study is a really exciting prospect, wait until stress kicks and you find it hard to adapt to that particular area- therefore homesickness kicks in immediately. Although this challenge is difficult to overcome, it is advisable that you make new friends quickly (ensure you choose the right company) which you can consider as a part of your family. These are some of the challenges I faced and they may vary from place to place. Even though they may make your life difficult, the need for education supersedes them, therefore just focus and be positive. The good news is that universities or colleges have an international office, student advisors and offer wellness services and counselling to help you adapt quickly. Always remember that whatever obstacles you’re facing you are not alone and you don’t have to deal with them alone.