Iñigo Giner
March 2017.

What are the main challenges of being an international student?

1 answer

Moving to a new country is a very important, but difficult decision. You must feel ready to grow up, sometimes quite quickly, abandoning all the comforts of living at home. 

This being said, it is clear that one of the challenges you will face at the beginning is homesickness. This can be difficult to bear as soon as you move, but it has solutions. Meeting people from your own country, trying to recall some of your old habits, eating some national food can help you cope with nostalgia. Being far from home, then, also means growing up a lot. With all the responsibilities you have, you will definitely become the adult you wanted to become.

Another challenge is adapting to new life habits: from food to weather, from the use of language to understanding local traditions, you will find yourself in a completely different world. Even though this may sound scary, it is fair to say that after some time you will get used to your new life. And, quite possibly, you will assimilate some of those habits.

If you moved on your own, you will have to start thinking and worrying about many things you did not care about at home, from shopping to doing the laundry, from taking the rubbish out to cooking something for yourself. This may seem challenging (and probably it is) so, before leaving, it would be good to get some ideas and some basic skills so that the passage to your new life will not be too arduous.

Being an international student also means that you will be worried, all the time, that you are saying something wrong. You will wonder whether you could have said something in a different way, using a different word, but at the end you will understand that, as long as you did not do major mistakes, it is fine. You will get better with time and practice: remember that it is great to be able to speak more than one language.

At the beginning, you may be worried that you will not find any friends: just try and approach a lot of people, try to get to know them, ask them to go for a walk together to explore the local area. You will find yourself surrounded by many beautiful people. And, at the end, you will love your new life. 

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