Do Your Study Abroad Expectations Meet Reality?
Before you start your semester abroad you will most likely build up plenty of high expectations. Doing so is good – simply for the reason that it helps you become more motivated and eager to start your adventure. However, many of your expectations may or may not match with reality. Therefore it’s important to get your facts straight and understand which of your high expectations you should bring down a few notches in order to not get disappointed during your stay abroad. To help you prepare yourself I’ve compiled a conclusive list of study abroad expectations vs reality.
Expectation #1: “I will have plenty of new friends from all around the world by the end of my study abroad semester”
Reality: If you are a first-time traveler you will most likely experience a culture shock. In the beginning, you might not fully understand or agree with some of the customs and traditions of the new country. Why do they have so many spices in the food? Why can’t I just walk on the streets without someone trying to sell me stuff? In these situations, it’s normal to look for people of the same background where you can ventilate all your feelings and impressions.
To have someone who speaks the same language as you and being from the same country can create an immensely strong bond when faced with completely foreign surroundings. This creates a comforting feeling which can limit yourself in getting to know other fellow students from other parts of the world. The bottom line is this: if you want to end up with many new friends from all around the world, then you need to step out of your comfort zone! Start from the very beginning of your study abroad semester to interact with as many students as you can. Do not limit yourself! Broaden your perspective and improve your cross-culture communication skills, only then will you find friends from all around the world for years to come.
Expectation #2: “I will learn and master the local language”
Reality: Yes, you will most likely learn a few words during your semester abroad but are you going to learn the language fluently? Well, probably not. If you want to master a second, third or fourth language like Indonesian or Thai then it is a must to spend the majority of your time with the locals. You need to immerse yourself in the new culture and just speak speak speak speak! Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to spend your days off school with the locals in the nearest restaurant rather than with your university buddies at the beach? If yes, then this expectation might match with reality.
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Expectation #3: “My days will be packed with sightseeing and exploring. I will activate myself every day!”
Reality: The weather will be hot if you study abroad in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia or Taiwan. This means you will not be able to fill your days with sightseeing and exploring because it’s too exhausting. Being in a heatwave is very tiring which means you will spend most of your time inside with air condition set on max cold watching Netflix and chill. Besides, study abroad programs can be very intense and the universities can be very demanding. Therefore, when you are piled up with homework you might not always have the time to spend on fun activities.
Expectation #4: “I will have the time of my life and meet inspiring people”
Reality: During your exchange semester, you will see new spectacular places and probably share unforgettable moments with beloved friends you’ve just met. So yes, this one is completely true! YOU WILL have the time of your life and YOU WILL meet new amazing people from all around the world. Period.
Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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