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The Challenges of an Exchange Student, How to Deal With It?

Studying abroad definitely has a lot of benefits. It opens a lot of opportunities, and you get to learn more outside of your classroom. And while we encourage you to become an exchange student, we also have to warn you about the challenges that come along with it. 

In this post, we will share with you some of the common issues an exchange student faces. In addition, we will provide tips on how to deal with it. 

Language Barrier 

Unless you plan to study in a country that has the same language, this will not be much of a problem. However, what if you decided to study in Asia or in Europe? While most people can understand and speak English, learning the local language or dialect can help you. You can use it for asking simple directions or for common greetings. 

Prior to going to a different country, we recommend that you take basic language classes. However, we do understand that this entails cost. Another solution is to use apps that can help you translate words. Practice it before you leave so you will sound natural once you try to engage in a conversation. 

Local Practices and Culture

Remember, the acceptable practices in your country might be offensive in another, so you have to be extremely careful. For example, you might be comfortable wearing shorts in your country, but apparently, in the Middle East, you have to cover up.  

Local Cuisine

Don’t get us wrong here ok? When you are in a different country, we encourage you to taste their local delicacies. There will always be a history alongside it, and it is often interesting. However, there are times wherein you are highly unfamiliar with the food, and you might not like it at first. Don’t worry, that’s normal. 

Thing is, you can’t just rush to the nearest McDonald’s to have a burger all the time. What we recommend is that you try to taste their food little by little. Do your research first and see which ones you are likely to appreciate. Do not be afraid to explore, but you should also ask the ingredients of the food. After all, you wouldn’t want to have an allergic reaction. 

Speaking of which, let’s now go to our next challenge as an exchange student. 

Getting Sick   

Getting sick in a different country can be stressful. Imagine if you need to be hospitalized, and the local doctor needs your medical records. In that case, you need to make sure you have your physician’s contact details. In addition, always get an insurance that has medical benefits. Doing so can save you a lot of money. 

Currency 

As you go to a different country, naturally the currency is different. During the first few weeks, you might be confused about how the money looks like, and you might be giving the wrong amount whenever you buy stuff. For example, in Vietnam, you would feel like a millionaire because of their currency. One dollar is more or less 23,100 Vietnamese Dong. Just imagine if you have $1,000 with you. 

Be more cautious when paying. Sometimes their money can be visually confusing. 

Finances 

Since we are talking about money, it is normal that you will have financial challenges in a different country. To avoid this, you can always have a part-time job. We highly recommend looking for online jobs, so you do not have to leave your apartment or dormitory. Likewise, try not to order food from restaurants every single time. If you can prepare your meal, then do so. Also, ensure that you have reserve funds back at home and have someone you trust have access to it. Call them up if you need the extra money. 

Not Having a Social Circle 

Another scary thought when studying abroad is that you don’t have friends. But you can always find school organizations for international students. Make sure to join them. If this is non-existent, then try to build your own. That’s a good initiative that will reflect well on your CV. 

Getting Homesick 

And of course, getting homesick is part of the experience. There are different ways to deal with this. Some people try to avoid spending too much time on social media. That way, they won’t see anything that they’ve missed back home. Others have a regular schedule to have a video call with families and friends. Do what you think is best for you, and sooner or later you will be used to studying overseas. 

Even with these challenges, nothing beats the fun of being on your own and trying to thrive in a different country. Again, take the opportunity if it is being given to you.

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