Nervous about your first program abroad? While there are numerous adjustments to be made, be confident in your decision to study abroad!
- Language barriers
Probably the most obvious of the challenges faced while abroad is the language barrier for students who travel to non-English-speaking countries. No matter what level of experience you may have in your foreign language, it is a little intimidating to be completely surrounded by it. Just remember to take it slow and don’t stress out about it because it is shocking how quickly you will remember and learn more of the foreign language
- Adjusting to the culture
When students study abroad, a factor that is often not thought much about is the difference in cultural norms such as whether people see being late as acceptable, how close people stand to each other, when meals are served, etc. There are very many things that can be just a little different than they are from home, which can bother some students. It’s important to be patient with the new culture and you will learn to appreciate it.
- Adjusting to your homestay
Living with your own family can even be tough at times, but this is a completely new family you are joining – not to mention they typically do not speak your native language. I remember being very nervous to finally meet and be living with my host family, but there is no need to stress! Host families are incredible families selected by organizations and have often hosted many students prior. Almost every host family experience I have heard about has gone incredibly well.
- Missing family and friends back home
This is another very obvious challenge students face while abroad. Being college students, we often like to think we are more independent than we really are. The independence is what makes education abroad so amazing for most students, but it does get tough at times while abroad because family and friends aren’t as close or easy to contact as they usually are. It is important to contact them when you can, but also take this as a growing experience for yourself!
- Eating cultural dishes
Although it seems very unlikely that eating food can be a challenge, it can be for some students when it comes to cultural dishes. One main part of culture is food and, in America when we have cultural food such as Mexican, Chinese, or Italian, it often isn’t the authentic cultural dishes that are served in your host potential country. The dishes that are served abroad can be a little too much for some students, but if you are not a very picky eater and like to try new things I would encourage you to try every single food item you can! Just be mindful if you have food allergies, and always be polite!
Photo courtesy of Brandon Burzynski.
Brandon Burzynski is a senior at the University of Kentucky studying finance. Brandon participated in the UK Sponsored Culture and Communication in Peru program in summer 2015.