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What they didn’t tell me about studying abroad

April 12, 2018

1. It’s frustrating

Moving somewhere you are a complete stranger to and don’t speak the language of well… After a long day of classes in Spanish, I don’t want to hear it anymore, and once I leave the classroom and waiting at the bus stop to get home, it’s right there again, but it doesn’t bother me this time. I try to listen to people speak, not in a creepy way, but to practice my listening. I remind myself that I am here to learn Spanish and it can be exhausting today, but that only means it’ll be less exhausting tomorrow.

2. It’s normal to feel like a kid

It’s a new continent, a new country, a new language… Customs are different and things work in a different way than you are used to. Learning the manners of a new place from zero, I feel like a kid pretty often. Especially the first few weeks are full of questions: Do I wait for the waiter or do I order at the cashier? How much do I tip? Are these prices expensive or cheap? But all is well. You’ll become a pro in no time, just you wait and see :)

3. Budget yourself from the very start

Living in a city is expensive, it is too easy to spend money. Prepare your lunch from the night before, walk instead of taking the bus sometimes, don’t carry more money than you need with you, research the best way to take out money and track your spending. BUDGET YO’SELF!

4. You can work abroad

Depending on where you study abroad, there are usually opportunities for exchange students. In Buenos Aires, a city full of exchange students, there are so many opportunities. There are jobs such as English-speaking nanny, bar crawl staff and a bunch of other ones for native English speakers. They are a good way to make some pocket money and meet new people!

5. It’s not so easy to immerse yourself

You are studying abroad with a program with other Americans, and it’s just convenient to hang out with people in your program. You take classes with them, you travel with them, and you see them every day. Therefore, you need to put extra effort to branch out and leave your comfort zone. Doing community service, joining a sports team at your exchange university, taking classes with locals, attending a dance course or whatever you like to do is a good way to make local friends that you share an interest with.

6. Relax

Things will work out one way or another. Studying abroad is a whole experience with its ups and downs. On social media, we don’t really see the downs, but they are right here on the street when I don’t understand and ask someone to repeat what they just said. And those downs make the experience more rewarding at the end, because I know in a couple more months I will be responding with full confidence.

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