Study Abroad: First Week Survival Kit

Study Abroad: First Week Survival KitStudying abroad is an enthralling experience for most students. You get to experience a new culture, meet new people, learn a foreign language and enjoy the local cuisine while in college. In addition to that, it offers a great opportunity to learn and grow academically, professionally and personally.

This, however, does not mean that there are no downsides to studying abroad. A student in their first week gets to face quite a number of challenges while trying to adapt to the new environment. This is because students step into a new world different from what they were accustomed to back at home. They have to learn how to live independently, deal with homesickness, culture shock, learn a new language, meet new people and deal with tough coursework.

The fact is that it’s not an easy transition. You will need to adapt and change your outlook on life in order to get through some of the challenges that you’ll face. You will also require a lot of strength and support from your parents and friends. Every student faces different challenges unique to their life overseas. However, a few road bumps here and there should not detract or interfere with your studies. In fact, you should use those challenges to learn something new and become a better person.

Here are some of the essential things you should add to your first-week survival kit when planning to study abroad:

Language Learning App

The easiest way to learn a new language in modern times is by using language apps.

The language barrier is one of the most critical challenges that you will face while studying abroad. Even though you may choose a country that communicates in your language, unique dialects and slangs might prove difficult to comprehend. This might stress you out since communication is essential when living in a foreign land alone. Therefore, it is important to learn the language used in the country you are studying in. The easiest way to do this is by using language apps such as DuoLingo or Memrise. These apps will help you learn new language skills and also sharpen the skills you already have.

The best thing about these apps is that you will always have them at your fingertips as long as you carry the devices that they are installed in. Some of these apps have free language learning websites that you could use to your advantage. So, as you fly to your school or as you have your morning at the coffee shop, you get the opportunity to complete a course and advance your skills.

Do not feel shy using your learned language skills as much as you can either in written or oral communication. Hold conversations with the locals and the students to practice your communication skills, learn the intonations and pronunciation of some words. This will help you blend in with the locals so that you don’t feel so out of place and also help you overcome the language barrier.

Have a Reliable Way to Call Home

Getting in touch with your family and friends will offer the support that you need to get through the first weeks.

Most campuses offer free Wi-Fi to their students. You can use this to call your family and friends using Skype and other video calls software or apps. You could also get an international phone or SIM card to help you make international phone calls back home. Research on the best and cheapest method for this and make use of it.

For students who embark on studying abroad, homesickness and anxiety are the most obvious challenges that they will face. This is probably because this might be the first time being in a new place away from what you were used to at home. Getting in touch with your family and friends will offer the support that you need to get through the first weeks at school. Therefore, this will require that you come up with practical solutions such as calling home occasionally, bringing photos with you as you travel or staying active and busy to get over homesickness. You can also ask your family to send you gifts, notes or cards once in a while so that you can have something to look forward to. This will enhance your comfort level while in a new environment.

Budget

 You need to have a budget to keep your expenses in check.

Pursuing higher education overseas is quite expensive and sometimes, students face monetary challenges at one point or the other. It is, therefore, necessary to create a budget plan. First, get an idea of how the cost of living is in the country you will be studying in. Do this by finding out the average rent or dorm room rent, groceries prices, phone plans, movie tickets, new clothes and transportation fees; then make a budget. Essential expenses such as food and rent should make up 50% of your monthly spending. Other expenses such as internet or cable should make up 30% of your spending and the rest of the 20% should go to your savings account.

Make sure that you make a realistic budget based on your income. To add on to your income, look for part-time jobs such as working as a freelance writer. Track your spending using a mobile app such as mint.com or use spreadsheet templates. Then, compare them with your total income and see if you’ve spent according to your plan. Avoid splurging into expensive trips and touristy stuff on your first week. Cut down on the expenses which you feel are not necessary or that may be expensive to maintain like spa trips to save some money.

Finally, stick to your budget. It will probably not work very well in the first few months since it takes some time to form new spending habits. Do not get discouraged whatsoever. Instead, just stick to your plan and make a few adjustments here and there until you are comfortable with your budget.

Insurance

Consider getting an insurance cover.

You can never expect the challenges that arise while studying overseas. This is why you should consider getting an insurance that provides travel, medical, financial and logistical support to help you cover the costs that some of these issues bring.

In the US, some colleges require students to purchase school-based group policies before traveling abroad for studies. These policies are limited to international medical insurance and only supplement pre-departure costs. Therefore, be keen when choosing a school-based insurance policy since some of them do not contain international health insurance.

If your school does not offer this, then you should consider getting an individual insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellation, evacuation and tuition reimbursements from a trusted insurance company. You may never get to use your insurance but it is better to air on the side of caution when it comes to your health.

Fitness Plan

Try to fit in your work out sessions in your tight schedule.

You can never expect the challenges that arise while studying overseas. This is why you should consider getting an insurance that provides travel, medical, financial and logistical support to help you cover the costs that some of these issues bring.

In the US, some colleges require students to purchase school-based group policies before traveling abroad for studies. These policies are limited to international medical insurance and only supplement pre-departure costs. Therefore, be keen when choosing a school-based insurance policy since some of them do not contain international health insurance.

If your school does not offer this, then you should consider getting an individual insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellation, evacuation and tuition reimbursements from a trusted insurance company. You may never get to use your insurance but it is better to air on the side of caution when it comes to your health.

Studying abroad can affect your daily routine and affect your fitness plan. Finding time to work out is also a challenge when a student is trying to adapt to the foreign country. Therefore, try to fit in your work out sessions in your tight schedule. It is best if you work out in the early morning as it will leave you fresh and energized for the day. Have a friend to work out with you. If you have made no new friends, you could ask your dorm mate to join you if they are interested.

Related article: Essential Disaster Preparedness Tips for College Students

Enrolling in a new gym can be quite expensive in some countries. Therefore, if you cannot afford to pay for the gym, adopt some outside gym exercises. Walk to class or hike up to your favorite spot in the woods with your friends. Walking may not be a strenuous exercise, but it is still a way to burn calories and keep fit. You could also consider biking if you do not enjoy walking. The streets are filled with bike lanes that you could use for your exercise. Dancing is also a great way to burn fat while learning about the local culture.

Finally, plan your meals well. Make sure that you eat a balanced diet and hydrate regularly. You can choose to stick to the meal plan you had at home or make another one that incorporates the local cuisine. When trying out new foods, eat in moderation to avoid overindulging. Taking care of your health while abroad will boost your immune system and keep you in shape.

There are various resources online to help you with creating a meal plan.

Google Maps

Google maps are another tool you need if you want to survive the first few weeks of studying abroad. You are more likely to get lost in a new environment and this is where Google maps come in handy. You can check for the directions of your lecture hall or a good restaurant to dine in. Even more, you can also share your location with friends so that they know where to find you in case you are lost.

Conclusion

The few challenges that you experience when studying abroad will only make your experiences memorable. Implementing the above tips in your first weeks of studying abroad will save you a lot of time, money and ensure that you make the best of your trip.

Do you have any more tips that could be helpful to students studying abroad? Feel free to share them with us in the comments section.

This article has been written by Sophia Clark for Prepper’s Will.

Author Bio

Sophia Clark graduated from the University in the City of New York with B.A. in Journalism, 2011. She is a creative writer from New York who loves to share her thoughts with readers, now she writes for Eliteessaywriters,  In her free time she enjoys writing fiction as well as reading it. Her big dream is to publish a novel one day. Connect with her on Twitter and Google +.

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