So, where to go to college? Everybody wants to know what your plans are. Have you nurtured thoughts of traveling to faraway places, meeting people and learning a language or two? You’ve probably conjure up images of studying in a foreign country, the thrills and excitement of being engrossed in another culture. Then, are you considering going to college overseas? Attending college abroad entails lots of preparations and decision-making. But proper planning and the right information can help assure a wonderful learning experience that will probably be one of the defining moments of your life.
A Learning Experience
Many students are now considering going to college overseas for quite a number of important reasons. Studying abroad is not just about gaining an international degree but an enriching learning adventure in life and in education. It exposes a student to new ways of thinking and living and in the process allows for maturity and independence. It increases self confidence and sense of pride for achievement gained in living abroad. Going to college overseas deepens ones knowledge of global issues and provides one with a wider perspective of world affairs. On a more personal note, it enhances ones employment possibilities. Employers, nowadays, seek graduates who studied abroad because these graduates possess international know-how and often have second language skills needed in a highly globalize world. Added to these potential benefits are ones own personal reasons and goals. Decided, in-depth preparations should begin as soon as possible as there is so much to consider
Preparing for the Experience
The first and most important step is to decide on what course or field of study to take. You might like to explore an entirely new subject that is not available on your home campus. Or you might want to learn an entirely new language and living in that foreign country can make learning the language easier. Once decided, research on what is available to fit your need, resources and time. You can talk to your high school guidance counselor or study abroad advisor about opportunities, say, student exchange programs. You can also search the internet as they provide detailed information about academic courses by country, length of program, curriculum, grading system and medium of instruction.
From here, look up the schools that offer your course of choice, and while doing so, consider the school’s location, too. Schools provide a sneak peek of the course syllabus through their web sites. Finding the ideal school and country that meets your criteria is of paramount importance. Living and learning in a foreign place will have its stressful moments. You would want it to be worth all the hardships, right? It also helps to ask around for organizations that assist students who want to have an international education. These organizations usually offer services that range from assessment, counseling, admissions, visa applications, travel and housing accommodations. You could also get firsthand information from those people who shared the same experience before you.
After you’ve chosen your course, school and country, gather facts about the host country you’ll be staying in. Do research on the country’s climate, culture, language and other pertinent information. It is a must to help you adapt to a new environment.
Upon application, you have to meet the necessary academic requirements. These include transcript of records and academic background. There will be a number of specific prerequisites. Just bear in mind that the more complete your documents are, the better the chance of making it. Have a timeframe of when you want to start your studies. Take into account the time spend for submission of requirements and the school and the country’s processing time. It differs from one country to another.
Financially, you will have to have funds available. How much going to college overseas will actually cost you or your parents vary. Actual cost may be less or much more compared to what study at home costs. Financial aid, be it from an institution, the state, or other public or private sources may be applied.
Housing is also a significant factor to consider. Housing arrangements vary. You may opt to stay in the university residence hall, dormitories or apartments where your roommates could be students from the host country or other foreign countries. Home stays where you live with a local family can also be arranged. It pays to be well-prepared before going to college overseas to be able to survive being on your own.
Living the Experience
You know the feeling of a stranger setting foot on unknown territory surrounded by strange people and choked by strange rules you’re not really born with. This is a problem one encounters at first living in a foreign country. There will be lots more as your stay in a foreign place is dictated by the number of years you’ll be studying,
For one, frustration and confusion is a problem. This is usually called “culture shock”. Symptoms may extend from depression, sleeping difficulties, homesickness, stress, fear and concentration problems. Living a life that you are not used to and being away from familiar places and faces cause feelings of disorientation. Try to overcome culture shock by learning as much as possible about your host country’s culture. Keep in touch with fellow countrymen and family and friends at home. It is natural to feel overwhelmed, but give yourself time, things will get easier. Have an open mind and participate. Be amenable to try new things. Cooperate and make friends, whether you are staying in a dorm or with a host family. Getting to know them can help you learn and appreciate a new culture. You can also be exposed to diverse political, ethical, ideological ideas and acquire new perspectives. This will also give you a chance to test valuable traits such as tolerance, resilience and humility.
During the course of your stay, be careful of the food you eat, ensure if tap water is drinkable. Exercise to ward-off culture shock and to be more energetic and less stressed. Watch your alcohol consumption. In short, take care of your physical health.
Regarding money, you will need to learn how to use your host country’s currency. Budget your allowance properly as cost of living maybe high. Don’t spend on unnecessary things. For example, if you can walk, do so. It is a good way to appreciate the scenery as you stroll along. Keep track of your expenses. Open a bank account, if possible.
Also, be a law-abiding citizen. You should be aware of rules because you are in a new environment. Ignorance is not an excuse. Some rules in your host country may not be found in your own country. Be responsible. Be aware of the host country’s policies on safety. Know how to cope with emergencies. Know where your country’s embassy is in your place as well as organizations or persons to approach in case of emergency.
All said, the best way to enjoy studying overseas is to enjoy your stay – savor every moment and learn. Definitely, it is one big adventure of a lifetime, one that will make you a better and more intelligent person than before.
So, challenge yourself, face the world!