As the world grows smaller, studying abroad is becoming more and more popular. Parents want to give their children the best education possible, while also having the opportunity to experience new places and meet people from all different parts of the world.
Studying overseas has many incredible benefits, but it does not come without its challenges. We aim to prepare our students for their big adventure by ensuring they are ready for both.
Experience Different Cultures
Advantage: One of the things we are most proud of at ME, is that our students and teachers come from all across the globe. A day at ME is a cultural experience all of its own. No matter how much students are exposed to other cultures in school, it cannot compare to living in a foreign country. Being totally and completely immersed in a different culture is the best way to learn about the nuances and perspectives that are bound up in it. Students who have cultural sensitivity, will be better prepared for future career prospects in other parts of the world.
Challenge: As a foreigner, it will take time for students to learn the local culture, especially all the unwritten rules. It’s important to remember that mistakes are expected, and often necessary in order to learn. Students should not get embarrassed or feel discouraged. After a while, it will get easier. Be observant and watch what others do. If you are uncertain of the correct way to do something, do not be afraid to ask questions. People will most likely be happy to help and it may even lead to new friendships.
Advantage: The first time people live on their own, is when a lot of growing happens. Independence is fostered and valuable life skills are developed. Living alone and abroad takes it to a whole new level, and students are forced to adapt to their new surroundings which ultimately promotes huge self-growth. Once the student sees that they are capable of looking after themselves and coping, even thriving, in their new environment, they will feel a new sense of confidence and maturity. Even the mundane tasks should be celebrated accomplishments like making appointments, dealing with lecturers and finding new favourite coffee and lunch spots. All these small ‘wins’ help turn young people into strong, capable adults.
Challenge: At first, the move may seem overwhelming and students may begin to feel trapped and develop home sickness. This is a normal part of the process and while daunting at the time, is usually temporary. The usual ‘support network’ of family and friends is not as close anymore and new joiners may find themselves missing things they didn’t expect to miss. It’s usually worst in the first few months of studying abroad. If students persevere, they will build up a new support network and after a while, they won’t even remember how difficult it seemed at the start.
See the World
Advantage: Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to see the world and travel to new places they would otherwise never have seen. The reason they are there is to study, but there will be plenty of time off offered, and during those times, most people are eager to explore their new surroundings. There is no better way to ‘know’ a city, than to live in it. Students will get to see a side of their new home they wouldn’t see if they were just tourists passing through. In addition to learning and exploring their immediate surroundings, students can travel to places nearby, hopefully, with new friends too.
Challenge: Traveling is an expensive hobby and frequent trips can get costly, especially on a student budget. It can also become a distraction from studying. If students can find good deals (of which there are many) and are able to prioritize their studies, then these challenges can be easily managed. It is important to learn to say no if friends are putting pressure to go on a trip when exams or assignments are due. Foreign students must learn not to give into peer pressure if they are to succeed with their studies. Rest assured, even if studying is prioritised, there will be plenty of time to explore.