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Coping With Study Abroad Problems

By Zain Nabi

Updated January 2, 2015 Updated January 2, 2015

International students often find it difficult to learn the ways of their new country. Although they have been told time and again about the dos and don’ts, they often find themselves entangled in situations that not only affect their studies but also hurt their study abroad experience.

I recently had an opportunity to have a brief chat with Danny Ong, the author of a guide for international students called The International Student’s Handbook: Living and Studying in Australia. Even if you are not studying in Australia, Danny’s tips can help you deal with the most common study abroad problems

DO: Learn the rules of your study abroad location

The first and the foremost task for international students is to know all the rules and regulations of their study abroad location and abide by them. Most study abroad problems can be prevented in this way, and it shouldn’t be hard to find information to guide you through the time you are going to stay there. Still, if you are not able to find any particular piece of information, Danny says: “Ask questions and never hesitate to ask them again if you don’t get the answer first time.”

He also jokes: “I always say, whenever it comes to taking an advice, never ask your friend.” He may have a point. When you already have professional staff at your university or college dedicated solely to your support and wellbeing, why look elsewhere?

DON’T: Limit your social circle

Everybody loves to be in their comfort zone and that’s why many international students tend to mingle with people of their own country, rather than mixing with members of other communities. Now there is no harm in hanging out with your country fellows, but don’t stick just to them exclusively. Having a limited social group may not seem like the biggest of study abroad problems, but it is a pretty common occurrence – and it means you’ll miss out on all kinds of experiences, friendships and future connections,.

DON’T: Be afraid to stand up for your student rights

Most students won’t encounter this kind of problem, but unfortunately there have been cases reported where international students have been deprived of their rights in one way or the other, often relating to student jobs, accommodation and so on. If you for any reason feel you have been mistreated or your student rights have been exploited unjustly, never be afraid of coming forward.

Take Danny’s advice seriously: “There are always good and bad elements in every society, but that should not discourage students. They should come forward and speak about any confusion they are facing. They should not worry about privacy, as legally and ethically their conversations with professional staff stay confidential.”

And finally… DO: Remember one cannot clap with a single hand.

Miles away from home, you certainly still always be able to find the right people for help in whatever study abroad problems you are facing. Don’t try to solve everything on your own. Make use of university staff, and make use of your friendships – my personal experience is that friends are very valuable and they do give good advice.

But DON’T: Lose sight of why you’re here.

Having emphasized the importance of good friends, it’s also worth pointing out that studies should still come before socializing! And if you want to get the most out of your studies, you need to learn to say ‘no’ sometimes.

Read more from Zain >

This article was originally published in December 2013 . It was last updated in January 2015

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Written by

Hailing from Pakistan, Zain finished a Masters of Journalism and International Relations at Monash University in Australia. He is working as a journalist and media trainer in Melbourne along with secretly harboring an ambition to become a filmmaker.