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Five Ways to Sabotage Your Own Study-Abroad Experience

Five Ways to Sabotage Your Own Study-Abroad Experience main image

Ok, time for another in-reverse guide. You've learned how NOT to choose a study destination - now here’s what NOT to do in order to have a fantastic time studying abroad. (Or conversely, if you’re really bent on ruining your own life, five ways to do that...)

1. Be a Moaning Minnie

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Ok, so a little homesickness is one of the natural emotions you can expect to experience – but don’t let yourself overindulge in this. If you get stuck in the habit of comparing everything to the way things were back home (“Did I say that back home, we have all this stuff but, like, better? I did?”), you’ll:

a) Shut down lots of fun experiences for yourself,

b) End up with an idealized dream of home that’s probably just not true,

c) Become such a Moaning Minnie that no one will want to hang out with you.

2. Form an international student clique

It’s also natural that you’ll find yourself drawn towards other international students – for one thing, they’re probably the first people you’ll meet if you attend the university’s international student orientation program.

Meeting other international students is great and can be a fast way to form friendships with people from all around the world (as long as you don’t just cling to those from your own country). However, some foreign students reach a point where they realize they’ve hardly formed any meaningful relationships with local students.

Why is this a bad thing? Well, at least some of them are probably fantastic individuals who you’d get on with really well. Second, they’re perfectly placed to give you real insights into the life and culture of the country – which, yes, you’ll probably get to on your own, but it’s nice to have a local ‘guide’ to speed the process along.

Finally, if you ever want to return, it’d be good to have a friendly face to greet you – and possibly a free bed!

3. Become That Library Guy/Girl

Every course has its Library Guy/Girl – that diligent student who’s got a reputation for pretty much never leaving the library. Yeah s/he is probably going to be top of the class, but they do seem to miss out on a lot…

Obviously I don’t mean you shouldn’t take your studies seriously. But whatever course you’re taking, it really shouldn’t mean you never ever have time for anything else – in fact, taking time out is likely to be beneficial.

And believe me, even if you graduate with a first-class-honours-degree-with-cherries-on-top, you’ll regret it if when you look back at your time abroad all you remember is the shape of the librarian’s balding patch and that humming noise the lights made.

4. Become a Total Party Animal

The antithesis of Library Guy, Total Party Animal has – so the rumour goes – no idea of where the library even is. S/he is rarely seen before noon, never in a lecture theatre, and is apparently genetically unable to say ‘no’ to any request involving the prospect of a Good Time.

You’ve probably guessed the end of this story. Unless you’re one of those infuriating geniuses who seems to do well without ever opening a book, this path is not going to lead to academic success. And since you’re investing a lot of time (and probably money) in your degree, you almost certainly want to do the best you can.

So, while it is important to say ‘yes’ to the awesome experiences university and New Country have to offer, remember to say no when you know you really do need to study!

5. Spend all your money in the first week/month/term

There’s a lot to think about when starting university, and even more when you’re studying abroad. What with applications, visas, finding accommodation, packing and so on, you may not have much time to sit down and draw up a budget.

And even if you have worked out how much you can really afford to spend, all the above-mentioned excitement can somehow make you ‘forget’ to check your bank account once you’re in the midst of term time.

Again, the key here is balance; don’t obsessively count out every dollar/euro/pound you pay out, but do try to keep a fairly regular check on the rate at which your bank balance is going down – and the likelihood of it hitting zero before your next pay cheque/bursary/parental handout comes in.

If you have a problem, it’s best to spot it early.  That way you’ll have time to look for a part-time job, sweet-talk your family, and/or seek advice from the university – they should have support staff who can help you work out a solution.

Ok, lecture over! Now get out there and have fun!

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