For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jan 07 2018
by Variya Tongtip

5 Questions to Think About When Considering Studying Abroad

By Variya Tongtip - Jan 07 2018

Studying abroad: one of the biggest things aspiring college students seem to ask about campus tours. Most colleges now offer a study abroad program for students if they would want to pursue it. However, moving to a new country, even if it is only for a semester, is not an easy task. There are many things to consider to help you find the right fit. Of course, you will be considering the questions of financial aid, finding a program that fits with your major and finding the right program with the right courses or internship.

These are the questions that everyone will be asked. However, you should also be asking yourself some personal questions to figure out if you are mentally prepared to be living in a new city or country. Here are five questions you should be asking yourself when you are considering studying abroad.

1. How fast will you be able to adapt? 


As humans, we can adapt to any situation that we are placed in. For studying aboard, it is more important to be asking how fast would you be able to adapt. This will also depend on how long you will be staying in the new country or city. If you are staying for just one semester, then you would need to be able to adapt to the new culture faster, as opposed to someone who is taking a whole year. Remember that even if you are moving to a new city in your country, then that city is most likely to have its own culture as well. There are many stages to culture shock, and the sooner you will be able to adapt to your new lifestyle, then the sooner you will be ready to start appreciating and learning in your new environment. 

2. Do you like the country that you will be traveling to? 


It is important to choose a country that you will enjoy when you are considering your options. If you know that you will not thrive in a cold climate, then opt for a country with a more tropical climate. Or perhaps you have been studying a certain language and you want a chance to use it in real life. Whatever it is, make sure it is realistic to what you think is best for you. Remember that everyone is different, and an amazing study abroad experience for a friend might not be the most choice for you. It is very easy to just think about the program and the courses when you are looking through the options so don't forget to keep yourself in mind when choosing a program. 

3. Are you ready to travel? 


Your journey will make a first impression of the country that you are living in. Moreover, if you are already travelling and studying, chances are, you might be travelling even more once you are in the program. That said, knowing how to travel well will be a very important aspect of studying abroad. If not, don't worry, just make sure that you learn from your mistakes. Here are some (real-life from other students studying abroad) mistakes to avoid: leaving your passport in public places or accidentally booking the same flights twice. These things might be seen as strange since they are very logical things, however, they have happened before. Make sure you know how to prepare and travel. 

4. Are you willing to be open to new experiences?


Of course, you will have more opportunities to explore and try new things when you are studying abroad. However, the experiences you thought might be fun might not be what you think when you get there. Would you be open to trying local food, and more importantly, would you be to present yourself if you don’t like it appropriately without offending the locals or others around you? Remember that it’s not just the local people that you will be surrounded with, but your classmates who are traveling with you as well. You will meet many people from different cultures and backgrounds, so be prepared to have discussions or find that they will have different perspectives as you. Will you be able to adapt in an environment where you will be faced with people with different views that you? 

5. How well can you handle criticisms? 


At one point in your study abroad, you might do something that is not culturally appropriate in your new city. This is often completely fine and expected — as long as it isn't intentional. It could also be something very minor. For example, a man walking past me in London got mad because I was pronouncing Southwark bridge as "south-wark" when in reality it was pronounced as "south-therk."

The important thing is asking yourself if you know how to recover from that. Would you make mistakes or learn from that? Being new to a place means that we won't know everything about it yet, no matter how many books you've read or how many TV shows you have watched. It could help, but it wouldn't be exactly the same. Also remember that this if it is something very minor, it will not ruin your whole experience, if anything it will make it better. Ask yourself how would you handle situations if you find yourself in a place where you are being criticized by a local. 

When asking yourself these questions, make sure that you answer them honestly. If you don't think that you might be ready, talk to someone and find the help and resources that you need to help you prepare. It's okay to not be 100% prepared for studying abroad, I don't think anyone ever is. The important thing is that you are willing to learn which is what studying abroad is really about. And if you think that you are ready, then you know what to do next! 

Carpe Diem!

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash 

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Variya Tongtip - Skidmore College

Variya Tongtip is a freshman at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, but is currently abroad in London! Follow her on Instagram: @variyatongtip

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