Surviving as a student can be tough enough without the addition of new challenges such as living in a strange country.
No matter how much research you do and talk to people who have been there, your destination will still surprise you in many ways, if you’re unprepared. Just like studying for a test, you need to take time out from your preparations and think about what lies ahead and how you can be ready for it:
Pack light, but smart:
- Be prepared for the cold and the rain in cooler climates. Make sure you have an umbrella and winter coat.
- Some antisocial types enjoy setting off fire alarms in the middle of the night, so bring a dressing gown.
- Pack slippers and shoes for the shower (flip flops or waterproof sandals) if you’re sharing facilities, it may not be healthy to walk around in bare feet, particularly if you’re roommates are messy.
- Get an extension cord, plug converter(s) and a multi-socket power outlet. There may be only one socket in your room, and you’ll need more for your gadgets.
- Clothes hangers will be in short supply and you don’t want to be known as the slob in the house, so get your clothes off the floor and hung up in the wardrobe.
- Include something special like a family photo, wall hanging or poster that will personalize your room.
Stave off homesickness by increasing your chances to make friends quickly:
- Search for Facebook groups for your college or university. Many have groups for international students, so you can ask questions and even make connections before you get there.
- When you arrive at the student accommodation, reach out to your floor- or housemates in the first few days. Offer to help anyone who seems to need it.
- Bring sweets and share them. If you also make coffee for them – Westerners LOVE coffee – they will warm to you immediately. Check out some really good coffee makers when you arrive.
- Keep your door open – bring a doorstop – to invite company and suggest you all go out for a meal or share takeout or a takeaway.
- Participate in the jobs’ rota. One of the most common reasons people fall out is when someone fails to take part in keeping the accommodation clean and tidy. Being willing to put the effort in will reward you with friends.
- Pay your own way. On many occasions, you’ll have to split up bills for the TV, the Internet, even gas or electricity. So, make sure you can be depended upon to honor your debts.
Once you’re established in a residence or hall, it’s easy to get carried away with socializing. However, you’re there to work and the best way to balance the two is to set boundaries. Let your fellow students know when you need to concentrate or have deadlines, the sooner you set these limits the easier it will be to enact them.