Unolona Academy

Artistic Voice

Navigating Life Abroad as a College Student

A perspective into how a foreign land too can become your home-land

Stepping into a world of firsts and unknowns is as thrilling as it is nerve-wrecking. It’s often in this excitement that we forget to check in with ourselves, setting unrealistic expectations of a picture perfect college life.  There’s no one way to navigate your path through the tough times but there are time tested principles that may help you sail through whilst enjoying the ride.

Foremost, drop your bag of fears at the airport. When you enter a new city, you are essentially stepping out of your comfort zone, a naturally daunting thing to do. If you carry that bag of overthinking and shyness around, it’s going to do nothing but drain you. Getting over them however can help you readily accept the huge system shifts – which are only natural given the cultural differences.

Amongst the most beautiful things about studying abroad are the people you get to meet. Depending on your comfort levels, this can be a very intimidating thing to do. I’d encourage you to break ice and initiate conversations. These conversations can help you identify which direction you want to head into. It is in the first few friends you make that you will find the peace you felt at home.

As much as it is fun to explore the city with friends, it is equally crucial to find your spots in the city that you are about to call home. No matter how busy my schedule was, I would always find time in the week to visit “my spot”. Try and look for underrated spaces in your city, explored by few tourists. Wander into local markets; it is the best way to get used to the talks and walks of life.

Always keep in mind that it is okay to be overwhelmed. Festivals from back home will especially be a time for homesickness. Try not to push away your feelings and instead look for communities in and around your neighbourhood that indulge in festivities. You will be surprised at how a bunch of strangers can make you feel at home in a foreign land. Over and above anything, realise that we always have control over our effort, and all the “what ifs” in the world won’t change that. Adjusting social life, academia and extra-curricular is a mammoth task for which you will need to go through the process of trial and error. You will be embarrassed every now and then but it is only these experiences that will lay a foundation for the rest of your college life. There are no shortcuts for acing study abroad, and honestly, you shouldn’t attempt at finding any either – just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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