Five Unexpected Lessons You’ll Learn From Studying Abroad

What they don't tell you about studying abroad.
studying abroad

So hopefully you’ve got your bags all packed for your exchange year or your first year abroad – what’s next? At this stage, you might be eager to find out what your experience is going to be like and all the advice articles have been telling you the same few things: studying abroad is fun, it will broaden your horizons, and help you learn about new cultures. But is this the reality?

Our team at Britannia StudyLink have compiled our own experiences from studying abroad in this article. These are some of the more self-reflective and humorous experiences that we hope will give you a better idea of what to expect before you leave for your first semester overseas.

1. You will have great experiences but only if you step out of your comfort zone

We noticed that some of our most memorable experiences only happened because we decided to just go for it. We might have been hesitant or had our doubts, but at some point, we made the decision to set them aside so we can experience something new.

The result of pushing our boundaries has resulted in some of our most treasured memories: a bike ride down the scenic route, an early morning hike up the hill, a weekend trip to the coast. We’ve all had a moment where we made that choice to try something new and we’ve been glad that we went all in.

2. All good things must come to an end

This is truly a life lesson that you’ll learn quickly as an international student. One of the most difficult things you’ll do is to say goodbye to your friends when you graduate or complete your exchange year and it might be difficult to see them again in person. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to keep in touch and online friendships are just as valid as the ones where you get to meet your friends face-to-face.

All we have to say about this is to be mindful that your experiences are transient – experience every day fully, enjoy it as much as you can and don’t let it stop you from doing all the things you want to try. Your university years are the best time to try doing something new!

3. Some things have different names in other countries

Medicine might go by different brand names and what we call potato chips are known as crisps in the UK! There might even be small misunderstandings but it certainly makes for a humorous story.

On that note, be sure to try the local cuisine as well. Sometimes you might find similarities between different cultures in our food or they might have an interesting take on other cuisines.

4. It puts things into perspective

Perhaps it is a change in environment or being pushed to do unfamiliar things – studying abroad can really put things that you find challenging into perspective. Whether it’s misplacing your keys on a cold winter day, submitting the wrong assignment, or something more personal in nature, you will learn that you got through these problems, adapted to find a solution, and it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was to begin with.

Experiencing difficulties, making mistakes and dealing with them is all part of the learning process. When you face a similar problem in the future, you already know that you’re fully capable of handling these problems by yourself.

5. Stereotypes are completely untrue

Okay, maybe you don’t need to fly to a whole other country to learn this lesson but quite often, we don’t even realise that we believe certain stereotypes about other people until we meet them and we realise they’re not at all what we have unfairly assumed them to be. Living in a country for a few months or a year will let you experience things about the local culture and get to know people in a more immersive and personal manner which will help break these stereotypes quickly.

Hopefully, what you’ll learn from your time abroad is that we often have a picture of what people of other cultures are like in our head, but the reality is that people are individuals and no two persons are alike. But some things are universal, like friendship, humour, and kindness, and we hope your time abroad will be filled with good people and great experiences.

Popular UK courses among Malaysians

Unsure about which course to pick? These programmes are popular among Malaysians which might give you a good place to start. Our Top UK Universities articles also tell you all about the top-ranked universities as well as our recommended courses for these subjects.

Study abroad in the UK and experience this for yourself!

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