4 Things Study Abroad Students Know To Be True That You Won't See On A Poster

4 Things Study Abroad Students Know To Be True That You Won't See On A Poster

Studying abroad will be the best decision of your life and while not every second will be picture-perfect, the entire experience will be over way too soon


When I decided to study abroad, the study abroad website and office were cluttered with all of these posters with pictures of students smiling and having the time of their lives. It is great advertisement and these moments do happen when you go abroad. But there are also moments when your hometown feels worlds away.

I was ignorant and never thought I could be sad while abroad and while the happy memories far outweigh the bad, here are the hard parts of studying abroad you should prepare yourself for:

1. You will get sick.


I very rarely get sick and have to miss classes, so I thought my health would remain perfect while abroad. Wrong! I silently suffered for weeks before I gave in and went to a hospital in the middle of the night. If you need a translator, then don't be like me calling them at midnight, and try to schedule an appointment during the day. Be prepared for different treatment and medicines. My doctor just looked at me and diagnosed me with no tests and after weeks of taking the wrong antibiotics, I only felt worse. When I had blood tests done, the woman did not wear gloves or clean anything, and I had no way of knowing if the needle was clean or not. Obviously, your experiences will be completely different than mine, but this is a real possibility depending on where you are in the world.

Make sure to talk to your study abroad program leaders and staff about what you should do if you were to get sick or need to go to the hospital. Pack any medicines you take generally that might be difficult to find in your host country. For me, I had a hard time finding medicines like Ibuprofen, and when I did they were extremely expensive. For example, if you are studying abroad Spring semester, bring allergy medicine if you normally suffer from allergies. In general, being abroad adds a lot of pressure on your body for many different reasons. Whether it's from staying up late studying or spending more time adventuring, you will be worn down and exposed to new factors that can affect your health. Drink water, get enough sleep, and don't eat unsafe foods and you should be fine.

2. You will miss home.


Missing home is the last thing many students think could possibly ever happen when they first arrive abroad. Eventually, you start to miss certain foods and things about home that you never thought possible. Everything in your new country will be absolutely amazing but there will most likely be moments when you miss a certain food or having your own room. Unfortunately, life still goes on while we are abroad and you will miss birthdays, parties, new movie releases, and all the inside jokes your friends will have without you.

Call home! Something about just hearing your parents' or friends' voices for a few minutes will make you feel much better. For me, food was the best way to feel at-home again. Whether it was going to McDonald's once a month, because that is the only American food in my host country, or making brownies, I was able to satisfy those cravings for home. You can also have your friends and family give you letters to open in case of emergencies when you feel homesick.

3. It is easy to feel out of place.


Unless you become fluent in a language and learn every square inch of your new city, chances are you will always feel a bit like a tourist. I went abroad to a country where I didn't speak any of the three languages, so ordering coffee and grocery shopping are suddenly more difficult than they should be. Some countries are so full of traditions and culture that it is nearly impossible to pick up on the etiquette. Living with a host family is one of the best ways to learn these practices as well as pick up on the language.

The best thing to do is to make friends with people who live in your host country. Most countries have plenty of people who want to try to speak English and your study abroad company might even work with a language center. When you make friends from your host country, they will show you the local cafes, help you practice your language skills, and teach you the cultural and social norms to be aware of. This is the best way to feel less like a tourist and more at-home.

4. The 'study' part of study abroad becomes too much.


When you are abroad in a new country with history and adventure around every corner, the last thing you want to do is spend hours reading your textbooks and writing essays. The workload seems to be much heavier than your normal university schedule. There are so many moments when you feel like you spend more time studying than exploring and you have a huge fear of missing out. Classes are also typically longer than what you might be used to because you have to cram so much material into a short amount of time. For example, my French classes are five hours long at a time and then I have classes after that making for 10 hours straight of classes. It is exhausting, and you realize there isn't much time to see and do everything.

The best thing to do is try to study with other students at a café so you are out and seeing new places, but also accomplishing everything you need to for the day. Depending on your program, your professors might hold class in a café or over lunch and pay for it. We even had lectures outside on the grass which helps you from feeling trapped in a classroom all day. Another, less desirable option, is to work ahead during the week so that you can have free weekends. When you book flights, you could also plan to arrive one week before the start of the program or stay a week longer just to have a vacation time to relax and explore.

These small things should not deter you away from studying abroad. I would bet it is safe to say every student who studied abroad knows at least one of these things to be true, but they are so small compared to the excitement of living in a new country. Studying abroad will be the best decision of your life and while not every second will be picture-perfect, the entire experience will be over way too soon.

Popular Right Now

A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

To Those Who Feel The Need To Tear Down Others, Take A Seat

You have no right to hurt others because you don’t agree with them.


I recently wrote a super controversial article, which I'm honestly very proud of. In the comment section, there were plenty of people criticizing me because of what I believe in, mainly because they didn't believe in the same thing as I put out there.

I would just like everyone to know that the people that write for this amazing company are just that — people. They are real, they have opinions, and they have feelings. There is nothing different about them than you. Would you like someone commenting hate on your Facebook post or anything like that? No, no you wouldn't. When you comment rude things on something that someone worked long and hard on, you are just being rude and inconsiderate of their feelings.

If you just go to the comments to leave a rude comment, you can write it down on a piece of paper and throw it away. You're being a bully. These writers more than likely will go to the comment section, just like I did, and will be hurt by your arrogant, inappropriate comments.

Ever heard of if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all.

If you don't agree with me that's fine, but that doesn't give you the right to deliberately go and try and tear me or anyone else down. You're just being rude and you have no reason to be, all I did was write an article on something I believe in.

Also, don't let anyone rude enough to do this tear you down or diminish your self-worth. There are people out there who are still kind and caring, don't listen to the negativity this world brings. Just keep doing what makes you happy, because in the end, that's all that really matters.

Related Content

Facebook Comments