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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 39 | October 07, 2007|


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Challenges Students Face Studying Abroad

Rudmila Ahmed

Going abroad for higher studies is a dream that most students harbor. And for some lucky ones, it is also a dream come true. Most students opt for North American or UK universities such as Cornell, Bucknell, Harvard, Princeton (to name the Ivy League ones) and so forth. However, once you do get through the rigorous admission process, and finally get to sit in the flight to your destination, many questions regarding student lifestyle abroad will confront you.

One of the most important questions facing international students is the issue of finance. How do you make the most of your budget? How can you save as much money as possible and invest it in something else? First of all, making a realistic college choice is a must. Before applying for a course or in an university, it is best if a student reaserches the monthly cost of living, tuition fees, course fees etc. Once you take that step, you'll have a realistic idea of what's about to come and how to handle it. One thing that is important to remember is, invest your money wisely. Many foreign universities claim various things, however, once you get there, you might find that things are totally the opposite. Thus it is best to take advice from other students who are studying abroad or are experienced in this sector. Once you do get in your university and settle down, many other financial pitfalls will come your way. Things which you took for granted such as food, clothing, phone bill etc. will now have to be taken into account. Many students, after arriving, have a fiesta eating out with friends and just dining out. And very soon, they find themselves flat broke. Therefore, it is wise to be frugal and eat at the dormitory. The best option for new students is to take the first month's supply of food from their country. Many dormitories have adjacent kitchens. Phone bill is something that can also cause financial problems abroad. It is natural that you'll feel homesick and will want to hear your mom's voice. However, if you have any idea about the phone billing system of a foreign country, you'll know it's better to use Skype or messengers instead of calling from a pay phone. The use of credit cards is a big no-no. When you have credit cards, you tend to get carried away shopping. And when the bill arrives at your door, the sky crashes on your head. In order to avoid such disasters, it is better to check into debit cards.

How do you do your budgeting? Before leaving for your university, take your supply of clothes (they are very expensive in America, and our country's providing garments for them anyways). Girls should take their grooming products from their home country, even though you feel you'll get them better abroad. For the boys, barber shops are something you need, try to save money by taking your razors and only opt for a haircut (even that can be quite expensive, so do some looking around first). Eating out should be as less as possible, and entertainment such as movies should be limited to buying DVD's and watching it at home (movie tickets are expensive as well). Phone and internet is something that you need to decide on yourself, and stationary products are best brought at your home country. Household items such as bedsheets, linens, crockery and so forth should also be taken with you along with cleaning supplies. You should get the message already, take everything with you for the first two months of staying abroad.

For those of you who think you'll run your university expense by working part-time jobs, think again. Countries like Malaysia only allow two hour of working, and even that is limited to on campus jobs. Finding part time jobs, the job oppotunities in and out of campus is something you should research while searching for a good foreign university. You can earn money by helping professors such as arranging their lectures, filing their papers, carrying their books around (yeah right!) etc. What about studying? Should you spend ten hours of your day just hanging around, and cram as hard as you can for an exam, or vice-versa? The best bet is to maintain a steady pace to avoid the build up of workload. Daily attendance is helpful, and in some universities, a must. Getting to know the professors, their teaching style, the class size, help sessions, tutorials etc. are things that you should keep a regular track of. The biggest issue facing a Bangladeshi student going abroad to study is lifestyle choices. In your stay abroad, you'll come across friends (?) who drink, who take drugs, and has lots of other questionable behaviour. Should you follow them in an attempt to fit in? Or should you hold on to your ethics and stick to your religious upbringing and maintain your cultural heritage? Dating is a common issue among students. The best advice, do not go for a foreign girl. If you think you can pull out of a relationship easily, think again. Research shows that boys tend to get more attached to the other person more than a girl.

Homesickness is unavoidable. You'll miss mom's biriyani, dad's scolding, your siblings pestering, granmom's adoring and so many more. Adjusting will take time, and many students feel miserable for months on end. To help alleviate this problem, the universities has counselors, and you can also fraternize with other new students and share your feelings. Maintaining a positive attitude helps, and you can always Skype your mom and talk to her.

Making friends in a totally new environment and overcoming the culture shock is also something that students face difficulty in. Show interest in their lives, join clubs that interest you so that you can meet others with the same interests as you, play sports etc. However, don't expect too much from your roommates. Thinking that your roommate will be your best buddy is not always true.

Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity, and if you have that opportunity, make the best of it. Making wise decisions regarding lifestyle will not only help your wallet but also make your educational life more relaxed and stress-free.

(Courtesy of William Carey Academy)


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