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Studying Abroad? Be prepared for these 5 challenges

Excited about migrating to another country in order to pursue your dreams regarding your education? Change always feels good. However, the transitory period is never easy. So while you pack your bags and fascinate about how it would be like in that foreign college, make sure you prepare yourself for a period of utter bewilderment as you try to adapt to the new surroundings.

Here are a few common challenges faced by most students who go abroad in order to pursue their college education. It will be a good idea to keep these in mind and develop your defenses against these issues before catching that flight into the unknown world.

Cultural Disparities

Every country has its own culture. So if you are headed off to a foreign university, be prepared to experience a wholly different set of values, customs and traditions that might be in total contradiction with your own. It is better to research about the cultural principles at your destination beforehand. This does not only inform you about what to expect during your stay there, it will also prevent you from making embarrassing blunders due to lack of knowledge.

The Freshman 15

Do you love food or try to experiment with it? A foreign land is the perfect opportunity to take your taste buds on a roller coaster ride.

Most foreign colleges offer buffet meals within its premises. If you are not accustomed to such an organization, this may prove to be quite intimidating for you. However, it has been observed that most people – regardless of their origin – tend to gain about fifteen pounds of weight in their first year at a foreign college. Blame the food or the freedom; unless you are going to be careful from the first day, you are more likely to end up in the same category as others experiencing “the Freshman 15 syndrome”.

Socializing

Some people have good people skills, some do not. If you fall into the latter category, be prepared for the loneliest time of your life as you begin college!

In a country where you are already faced with numerous challenges while trying to adjust to the foreign climate, making new friends and socializing with others may contribute towards your problems – especially if you are an introvert. The best way to go about this problem is to practice talking to random people in your own country. This will make you a little less hesitant while interacting with people in a foreign land.

The Breathtaking Curricula

When you are done managing other factors, you are left with the core reason you are in a foreign college – academics. A foreign college automatically translates into a unique curriculum that you may never have imagined pursuing at any point in life.

New subjects, professors and projects multiply your stress by a considerable amount considering they all come in at the same time. There is no shortcut or an easy way out of this situation. You simply have to go with the flow and try to get the most out of it. This is where your mental preparation for pressure plays a role in delivering the desired results.

Depression/Homesickness

The first few days are always the trickiest. You may start to feel lonely, depressed, and homesick and a number of other emotions that emerge as a reflex to your stress. You may even question the sanity of your decision as you trudge along day and night in hope to find some support to get you through your gloomy days.
The best thing about it is it eventually does end. It may take a few days, weeks or months; but at some point you begin to feel at home. The only thing you can do is wait it out patiently and try to help yourself by making friends and socializing.
You will face problems only as long as you are in the learning phase. With time, it turns out to be better than expected!

Stress Zone: 8 Tips on How to Master the Demon

In many areas of life, stress is inevitable. For college students this can be a major problem since many of them are not prepared for what they will face. College is a whole new ball game, with a much heavier workload and additional responsibilities. Many college students have to find jobs on or off campus. Going to work, attending classes regularly and turning assignments in on time can prove to be too much for some people.

Even college students who are not working can be overwhelmed by their studies. Scholarship students especially have a lot of pressure placed on them to maintain good grades. The harder some students work, the higher their stress level gets. At some point, stress can become a health risk, and it can even lead some people to contemplate suicide. The following tips can help college students beat stress:

Learn to go easy on yourself

This might seem simple, but it is an important way to avoid stress buildup. Missed deadlines can happen to anyone, so do not panic, and try not to be angry with yourself. Instead, learn from it and try to do better in the future. Failing an exam or getting a low grade is also no reason to beat up on yourself. When you do not perform as well as you wish, take it in stride and try to do better next time.

Get enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep is something that many college students can relate to as they work to achieve their goal. Adequate rest is essential for good health, especially mental health. Lack of sleep can affect our moods, making us irritable and prevent us from dealing with problems in the right way. People who get enough sleep are able to concentrate better in class and they are generally more relaxed.

Have a good diet

Many college students eat a lot of junk food because it is cheaper or sometimes more convenient. The brain needs the right amount of nutrients to function properly. Try to have fruits and vegetables every day, and take a multivitamin if necessary. Eating whole grain foods is also a good idea for the college student. A body that is properly fed is better at dealing with stressful situations.

Socialize

Hanging out with friends is a great way to deal with the pressure of being in college. Sometimes it is good to have fun and to not think about the things that are bothering you. Even studying together as a group can be a fun activity and helps to make the workload easier. You can also look for clubs on campus that will allow you to spend time with other people in a setting that has nothing to do with the classroom.

Talk to someone

If you feel like you are under too much stress, it helps if you share this with someone. This person can be a lecturer, a faculty advisor or even a close friend. Sometimes it is good to get problems off your chest by talking. Communicating with others can help you to feel better, resulting in you feeling less stressed.

Look at your workload

It is possible that you are taking more courses than you can handle. This is an easy way to fall into the stress trap. It is s good idea to look at the courses you are taking and dropping one or two to make your coursework more manageable. It may even be necessary to sit out a semester to give yourself time to recuperate and get back on track. The important thing is to ensure that doing this will not put your credits below the number that you need to graduate.

Spend some time alone

While being with friends can be good, sometimes distance from other people is just as beneficial. It is a good idea to be alone for a while just to relax or to think about the problems that make you feel stressed. You might even come up your own ideas to help you manage your stress.

Exercise

Studies have shown that exercise promotes good mental health. Vigorous exercise improves blood flow, and can help to improve your mood. Some people actually go to the gym to relieve stress. At many colleges, gym membership is free or very reasonably priced for students.

Some people meditate to help to clear their minds and leave their stress behind. Others start to take music lessons or a new sport. Whichever method is chosen, the goal is always the same; mastering the demon called stress. If you fail to control this problem, it could cause you to fail in college and prevent you from reaching your goals.

Studying Abroad - A survival guide

Studying abroad is a very rewarding and rich experience for students. It allows them to study at world-renowned universities while providing them the opportunity to experience a new culture and make new friends. However, studying abroad is not quite easy. It presents a number of unexpected problems that might prove to be overwhelming for those who are unprepared. Given below are a few tips that will help you make the most of your experience:

Study English

Language barrier is perhaps the biggest issue most international students will face. It is therefore important for you to start studying English even before you move to the new country. While you may be able to scrape through when it comes to general conversation, taking notes, writing lengthy essays and taking tests can prove to be quite tough. Join a class, watch English shows on TV, talk to English speakers and read as much as possible to improve your language.

Give yourself some time

Do not expect to fit in and adjust in a new environment immediately. Regardless of how well prepared you are, it always takes some time to truly adapt to your environment. Accept this fact and learn to be patient. Understand that time will take care of most things. As you spend more time in the new country, you will learn more about the social norms, culture, academic expectations and learning style.

Talk to a student counselor

Before moving to a new country it might be a good idea to talk to a student counselor to understand what you can expect academically in a new university. Student counselors can provide you information on class sizes, lectures, learning styles and can provide you tips on how to prepare yourself better for the challenge.

Get a fellow student to tutor you

If you are having a hard time understanding lectures, taking notes and keeping up with the work, it would be a good idea to ask a fellow student to tutor you. One-on-one study lessons will allow you to ask questions freely and will make it easier to grasp complex topics and concepts that you are unable to understand in a class setting.

Social life

Socializing is an excellent way to learn more about the culture and the customs of the country you are studying in. it is therefore important to get involved and meet new people. Students in most universities are friendly and welcoming. The campus life usually offers a number of activities where you can socialize with other students. Join a campus based organization or club that you might be interested in. Select an activity that you are interested in, sign up and show up for meetings. You will feel comfortable in a group setting in no time at all.

All international students tend to feel out of place and uncomfortable initially. They also struggle academically during the first few months. However, the tips given above will help you minimize the problems and help you fit in faster and more efficiently into your new environment.

Socializing and Networking: A Step Towards Global Careers

One of the advantages of studying abroad is the opportunity to build a network of international friends and acquaintances who can give you tips and information on further studies as well as career opportunities across the globe. Though it might take a bit of an effort to break the ice and make friends with local as well as other foreign students – the benefits are well worth it. In this article we provide effective tips for international students to help improve their social life at college and build lasting friendships.

Try to meet a variety of people

Whereas it is natural tendency to seek out people from your home country, we advise you to reach out and connect with local students and residents as well. You can do this by going to parties and other social events. If you share a work or study space with other students, you can play songs that mutual favorites and discuss common interests like college sports, celebrities, etc to break the ice and build camaraderie.

Feel free to invite your classmates and contemporaries students to special occasions (birthdays and anniversaries) or festivals you celebrate, help them learn about your culture, and don’t be shy to attend their events if invited. Be open-minded about making friends and don’t let any initial teething troubles deter you.

Be Proud of Your Difference

When in an alien country it is inevitable that on a few occasions you may feel you are sticking out like a sore thumb, but don’t be scared or apologetic for being different, rather be proud of it. Life is for learning and the fact that you are open-minded and brave enough to have enrolled at a school in a foreign country should give you the confidence to explore forge some highly rewarding friendships. People by nature are curious and adventurous – in varying degrees, as an ambassador of your country and culture, get them interested their positive aspects. You will be surprised as to how much people all over the world have in common – cherish the similarities and celebrate the differences.

Speak and Enunciate Slowly

Don’t be afraid that you have an “accent” and feel that communicating with the local and resident population would be a bit tedious. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly so that others do have not trouble understanding your words. Everybody will appreciate the effort you are taking to communicate and will be motivated to reciprocate.

Take part on group activities

Utilize weekends and holidays to form a group of willing students to go sightseeing around the city and even to other towns and cities. You can use the opportunity to form close friendships with like-minded peers in the group. So get information about local museums, zoos and other places of attraction and take the initiative to invite your fellow students to form a group to visit these places. You can pool in resources like cash, cars, food etc. so that everybody contributes their mite to the group activity.

Join a Club or Organization

At the beginning of the college year, find out about the organizations and clubs at your college, make it a point to find the time to join and be an active participant in those that interest you. For example, if you are interested in quizzing, debating or any other activity, join the relevant clubs to pursue your interest and make friends with like-minded students. Keep a watch for flyers and posters about various clubs and ask your acquaintances too about the extracurricular interests they pursue. You are bound to find something interesting for yourself.

Summary

You may have often heard the term “Global Village” an integral part of this “village” are global citizens, businesses are increasingly looking at professionals who have global networks along with global credentials. Going to college in a foreign country is a wonderful opportunity for you to be a part of this new world order, make friends and acquaintances across cultures. An opportunity you would not have if you stayed at home. So shed your shyness and grab the chance with both hands to form a network of like-minded peers at college to boost your social life and create networks to further your studies as well as professional opportunities.

Athletics your passport to Health, scholarships and popularity

If you have made it to the college of your choice, you are halfway there. The rest of the journey lies in what you do on campus (and off campus) to make your experience truly rewarding! While academics are undoubtedly a significant portion of your college life, you should never miss out on athletics! It’s not just a sport – it’s an opportunity!

Scholarship Opportunities

It is an implied benefit most outclass athletes receive in compensation for their participation in sports – on local and national level. Most colleges and universities are willing to support your sports skills through your academic tenure while you play on their behalf. Athletic scholarships usually incorporate your sports, nutritional, accommodation and educational expenses along with a few extra bucks to pay for your stationary items. So you can pursue your professional studies without paying a dime out of your own pocket!

There are certain associations like the NCAA that are working to make life for student-athletes truly rewarding. This does not only include providing athletic scholarships but also involves complete healthcare and training facilities that help in grooming your sports strengths. At the same time, they also focus on your academic requirements in the form of academic counseling, tutoring, study help and so on and so forth.
Partial scholarship opportunities are also available for students who may exhibit promising potential but do not have a longstanding track record to support it. This means even if you are unable to get into the free zone, you can still avail partial relief from your college and university expenses.

Pricelessly Healthy

No sports can be played unless you have been declared fit for it. If you have made it to the athletic scholarships lists, you will have your school paying to keep you healthy! This includes your physical fitness trainers and nutritional experts working together to make sure you perform your best on the field. So when you get to the other side (graduate), you are healthier and more energetic than most of your fellow mates!

Admittedly, this means foregoing a lot of the eating (and drinking!) habits that you love. Nevertheless, there is no replacement for your health. In a few years time down the road, you would look back and be glad at the choices you made as a student-athlete.

Being Popular By Doing What You Love

And then there is the king (and queen) protocol most college and university level sports personalities receive when they have won the game! Most students (and teachers as well) remember your name. If you’ve made a spectacular achievement, it remains engraved on the “wall of fame” forever. There is so much to boost your self-confidence that when you step into the real world, you feel truly invincible! If you’ve got good grades along with your sports performances, most employers would be more than willing to offer you a job. You get the best of both worlds by doing what you love!

Sports Relieves Stress

It mostly comes with health and fitness, but it is nevertheless worthy of mention. Sports activities help in relieving stress. This is why despite their extremely busy schedules; student-athletes are able to get through tough times juggling two bowls of fire at the same time.

Indeed, most of the student-athletes who shared their stories put specific emphasis on their overstuffed schedules. Training for the sports and also keeping up with academics while your body screams for some rest can be quite challenging. If you are travelling to attend sports events, it gets even tougher to manage. Nevertheless, athletics helps in relieving stress. In the long run, student-athletes may come off in better shape than most “strictly-studies” personalities.

Extracurricular Activities That Impress Colleges

The competition for admittance to many colleges and universities is intense. There are simply more applicants than the spaces available in post-secondary degree programs.

Admissions officials consider numerous issues in deciding which students to select. Grade-point average, SAT and ACT scores, essays, and other factors are important. Some students overlook the value of including extracurricular activities on their applications.

Why Extracurricular Activities Matter

Many colleges look favorably on those who took part in activities outside the classroom during high school. These experiences offer opportunities to grow in ways that book learning does not provide.

You can become more well-rounded by getting involved in a wide range of endeavors. In addition to gaining knowledge and experience, you learn teamwork and social skills. You grow as a person as you develop patience, humility, and other attributes.

The extracurricular activities you choose demonstrate your interests. Admissions officials want to see that you are a social person who is passionate about something other than academics.

School Activities

The sorts of extracurricular activities available are numerous and varied. Among the most popular choices are high school sports like football, basketball, volleyball, track, baseball, and softball. Depending upon the region where you live, there could be hockey, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, gymnastics, and other types of sports teams.

Students who are more artistically inclined join bands, choirs, and other musical groups; take part in theatrical productions; or make art like paintings and sculptures. Some create yearbooks and work on student newspapers as writers, photographers, and editors.

Student clubs provide opportunities to pursue special interests with others. Common clubs are devoted to debate, speech, chess, math, film, language, and mock trials. There are also clubs related to sports and art, and others involving certain ethnic groups.

Having been in clubs shows admissions officials that you are a curious person with interests beyond the classroom. Involvement in student government, or planning and organizing groups like the prom committee, also makes an impression.

Off-Campus Activities

Colleges are interested in how applicants spent their time outside of high school. Part-time jobs are excellent opportunities to learn and gain skills. Even simple work, such as retail jobs, provide an education in many areas involving the business world and interpersonal communication. It is even better if you are able to find work related to the subjects you plan to study in college.

Another option is to serve as volunteer in the community. Many towns and cities have volunteer centers that offer a range of choices. You might be able to do something that not only helps others, but also is relevant to your academic pursuits. Homeless and domestic-violence shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, animal-rescue shelters, and other operations are frequently in need of unpaid help. You may be able to provide tutoring services, or assist a charitable organization in raising money.

Community clubs, teams, music ensembles, theater and dance groups, and church-based organizations are generally open to young people. They may give you a chance to meet, and learn from, local folks who are fascinated by some of the same things that intrigue you.

How to Find an Activity

Whether you are looking for an extracurricular activity at school, or a work or volunteer opportunity in the community, there are resources available to help in the search.

You can check print publications and bulletin boards, listen to local radio and television, visit websites, talk to teachers and counselors, go to a volunteer center, email the chamber of commerce, and look into church activities.

If you have a special interest, but cannot find an organization to join, consider starting your own group. Put up fliers, place notices in the student newspaper, and conduct other outreach efforts to find others with similar interests.

Explain Your Involvement

Do not just list your activities on the college application. Admissions officials are more interested in the depth of your involvement than the number of pursuits. Anyone can sign up for a lot of things, then have minimal participation.

Describe how you contributed, or made a difference, in your extracurricular efforts. Provide details about the things you did in organizations, jobs, and volunteer work. Describe what you learned, and the skills you obtained, from these experiences.

If you were elected club president, named team captain, or won an award for your community service, do not be bashful about it. Get letters of recommendation to include in your application packet.

Your record of extracurricular activities gives college admissions officials a glimpse into your character. How you spent your time outside the classroom during your high school years helps to illustrate the sort of person you are. Getting involved in activities helps you learn and grow, while also making you more likely to be accepted by the college you wish to attend.

7 Top challenges students face when studying abroad

Students enrolling in colleges overseas will find the experience frustrating, challenging but also exciting. When going to a country with a very different culture, students have to try to adjust to their surroundings. While the experience is definitely not easy, it can be a lot of fun. Knowing what to expect before travelling to another country is the best way to make things easier. Given below are a few challenges that students commonly face when they study abroad:

Fitting in

All students will initially feel like an outsider when they go to a new country. They find it difficult to understand the local norms and culture, the language and food. While most countries are quite welcoming, the experience can be trying as you try to come to grips with your new surroundings. However, this problem will eventually seem smaller as you adjust to the new environment and find the locals to be friendly and encouraging.

The culture

The culture in every country is different. In fact, the cultures within the same country tend to be quite different. For students, it is important to understand and accept this fact. From minor cultural differences like accepted dressing and communications to larger issues, students in a new country will take a little time to fully understand the extent of cultural differences. The best way to deal with this problem is to read a little about the culture of the country you will be visiting and talking to other international students about their experience.

The food

Every country has different food. The food items served in the college cafeteria in a new country might be very different from what international students are used to eating back home. Initially, there might be a few adjustments required and you may even face physical issues as your body tries to adjust to the new ingredients and taste. However, with time you may easily get used to the new cuisine. Students can also try to find ingredients from their country in specialty grocery stores and supermarkets and try to cook at home.

The language

Language is perhaps one of the most common challenges that all students studying abroad face. Learning a new language takes time but once you are well-immersed, the problem will go away very quickly. English is spoken in most countries today so it should not be too difficult for students to communicate with others. However, it is also important for students to persevere and try to learn the language normally spoken in the new country.

Social life

Studying abroad can be a very enjoyable experience. However, being away from friends and family can take its toll over time. The best way to deal with this problem is by building a new support network in your new environment. Make new friends, talk to your classmates, join clubs at the university and do everything you can to build meaningful relationships.

Learning Style

Students from Asian countries are usually accustomed to lecture based classes. Universities in western countries usually involve group discussions, seminar and interactive learning techniques that international students may not be very familiar or comfortable with. These students are usually more comfortable with passive learning and tend to take some time to adjust to self-directed, independent learning that is usually required in western classrooms.

Academic Expectations

Because of the many difficulties that students tend to face in a new learning environment, it is common to see their grades drop during the first year of university. Some students may have high academic expectations and may find their performance depressing and discouraging. It would be help if you start studying up on some of the more difficult courses in advance. Take fewer credits in the first semester to ensure you have a comfortable schedule and try to avoid going for the tough courses right in the first semester. Most important of all keep an open channel of communication with your instructors and professors.

While there are several challenges that you will normally face when studying abroad, the experience is very rewarding and enriching.

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