Don’t mind the ‘sad face’. Studying aboard has been the best decision ever and I have learned so much about everything. But what’s life without some falling down, right? It helps to put things in perspective.
- Freedom – You will have way too much of it. You will also not know what to do with it. There’s only so much partying, going out, travelling that you can do. Freedom coupled with lack of money is not the best. I thought my weeks will be filled with classes, meetings, projects, assignments, and whatnot. I quickly realised I had a lot of ‘independent study’ hours. Your assignments will seem like they are due way later, then they hit you in the face before you know it. Like me right now. I really should be working on my dissertation every waking hour.
- Health & Fitness – It’s really not fair when the unhealthiest foods are the cheapest. When your university gym costs your soul, it only seems right to just live on your bed. Isn’t it hilarious when you’re watching someone’s fitness routine on YouTube while eating a bag of crisps?
- Homesick – I Skype with my mum everyday. I can just chill and talk to my family, and they can be assured that I’m alive. So while I don’t think I get homesick, I have definitely missed my mum a lot more than usual when my life seems to be crumbling down around me. It’s the worst when I’m sick with no food and someone’s been extremely annoying. You’ll definitely feel some sad feelings at some point. There’s no shame in that.
- Friendships – (a) home friends, (b) foreign friends – two different groups of friends. For (a) you’ll notice who really bothers, feel the drift in the friendship, not knowing things when that new friend knows everything about your old friend. Of course you’ll have to put in effort too! With (b) you’ll probably end up with other international students (and that’s okay). Because most of the locals already have their cliques or tend to gravitate towards their own. When your (a) friends ask if you have any local friends, it might not be a yes. That’s going to surprise them.
- Finances – I never was that bad at managing my finances. But it’s a different story when you have to manage your rent, phone bill, groceries, transport, outings etc. You might be living alone or sharing a flat, either way you are in-charge of that monthly allowance. Money is a scary thing. My family will be more than happy to send me some extra cash if I’m drowning but I don’t. I record my expenses and I save! So if I want to travel etc, I have that cash. You’ll actually feel proud of yourself. It’s a skill.
Got any other reality to share?