A Few Study Abroad Resources From People Who’ve Been There
As we talked about earlier this week, studying abroad is an incredibly beneficial experience that you’ll find will make you marketable in the future. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps along the road! We’ve been living abroad since our late teens (at least off-and-on, in my case) and we can guarantee you there have been unforgettably beautiful moments but also low days we wish we could forget. More often than not, on the days when you feel that studying abroad (or living abroad in general) is just not as magical as you imagined it’d be, it’s helpful to take comfort in the fact that others know how you feel—and have gotten through it!
That’s why today we’d like to share a few resources of ours and others who have lived this experience in case you’re feeling in need of some perspective or simply company in your moments of doubt.
General tips for studying and living abroad
Tips For Future Exchangers: In this post, Seraina from Switzerland shares her top tips for future exchangers. The article concisely covers so many pieces of advice we, too, believe in and we can tell Seraina really gained some good insight from her high school exchange program!
Top Tips for Living Abroad in Spain: If you’ll be studying abroad in Spain, we highly suggest you check out our article of top tips for living here. It’s a great place to start and provides further resources for the tips we recommend.
Living a Meaningful Life Abroad- Identifying Your Values: Melissa Parks, PhD is an awesome person to follow on social media! She is always sharing insightful posts on living abroad, having a mindfulness practice, and well…being an Intentional Expat. To highlight just one of her blog posts, is one on identifying your values really hit home. The exercise she recommends can help you start out your abroad journey on the right foot or regain your focus if you’re already years into the experience, like us.
Not having so many expectations
One of the biggest issues we face when we go abroad (especially nowadays with so much social media) is the negativity that can come from having so many expectations…and then coming to terms with the reality that some of those expectations will never be met. These articles focus on just that!
My First Day at School: Sarah from India discusses how not having strict expectations for the people and the culture around her allowed her to have a wonderful first day at school.
All These Expectations: Whereas Maya from Germany comes to terms with how she did go into exchange with a lot of expectations and had to struggle a bit to reframe the way in which she approached and evaluated her year abroad.
Dealing With FOMO While Abroad: On our blog, you can find details on how we deal with FOMO and other vulnerable posts in our Confessions category. We want to be as upfront with you as possible about the reality that life abroad isn’t always sunshine and rose—sometimes you get sad and sometimes you feel alone! Oh, and homesickness can be real no matter how long you live abroad so don’t expect yourself to never miss home and just give yourself the space and grace to work through it.
Like we said, the obstacles that come up in your normal, daily life are also going to be present when you study abroad. In fact, the difficulties that arise are likely to be multiplied. However, there’s always a way to work through these, even if it often means learning how to ask for help.
Problems With Your Host Family: Take it from Saachi from India who had a really unfortunate time with her original host family. She really struggled at first, but eventually found the strength to speak up for herself and get it resolved.
Exchange Year Struggles and Tips: Esther from Germany also sheds some genuine light on the struggles that may come up during your study abroad experience and a few tips for how to manage them.
Our Mental Health Series: But perhaps more important than reading other’s first-hand accounts is to remember that your mental health should always be taken seriously! There are the normal, everyday struggles that you can work through on your own or with the help of peers but do not hesitate to reach out to professionals if you’re struggling with more serious mental health! In fact, we believe this is so important that we did an entire series on this in the past. If you’re feeling in need or know someone else who is, please check out this article in which we highlight local and online resources that may be of use to you.
Note: You may notice that a number of the resources we linked today come from “The Survival Guide to Exchange.” That’s because the blog was recently put together by a follower of ours on Instagram, Kaden Litzinger. Kaden is a high school student who returned from an exchange program in Argentina earlier this year. She’s been working hard to bring together hundreds of other young people around the world who have gone on an exchange or study abroad trip. With the simple intention of providing help to future exchange students, she compiled a lot of stories! The articles range in length and depth, but are generally quick reads so you can wandering around the many different country and topic tabs. We applaud the passion she has for exchange and helping others and look forward to watching her blog evolve and grow in the years to come. You can follow the survival Guide’s Instagram here.
Were any of these resources particularly helpful for you? Would you like to share others that have provided you insight or comfort in the past?