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Adjusting to New Environment While Studying Abroad

In this episode, Ms. Kunjal Sakhrani talks about how a student’s life can be both exciting and worrying. Exciting because you are taking a step ahead in life; worrying as you may be living alone for the first time. You will be meeting people, making new friends, eating new food and maybe even learning a new language. Once you reach a new country you will start noticing the differences in culture, the lifestyle immediately.

Initially, you might find it difficult to understand and deal with these differences, but gradually you will be able to manage them. The best way to get over your anxiety is to gather as much knowledge as possible about the country you are going to. Read up whatever information you can get on tourism websites, magazine articles, blogs, etc. As a student, it is important to be aware so you can adjust easily in your new environment. You cannot eliminate all surprises, but being aware will make the adjustment easier and faster.

Dealing with culture shock:

Culture shock is a natural reaction that people have in a new cultural environment. There is so much that is unfamiliar and scary that it is normal to get overwhelmed and homesick. The best way to get over the feeling is to make new friends. By friends, it doesn’t mean students of your own community and the local students, but also other international students. They are as new as you and will understand the problems you are facing. If you are in a non-English speaking country, learning and talking in the local language can make your life easy. Do make sure that you attend the orientation meeting that is organized for the new students at your university. This is the best way to meet batch mates, make friends, and get familiar with the university and the facilities provided.

Managing your Food:

Eating wholesome meals and maintaining a well-balanced diet becomes essential while living independently. Unfortunately, your family members will not be around to pamper you. You must remember that you will have quite a bit to study and it is important to remain healthy to be able to concentrate on your studies. Try and cook on your own meal this way you eat healthily and also save on the costs. Once you reach and settle down, look for an Indian store in the vicinity. You will be able to find basic Indian ingredients in such stores. Some shops also stock pre-cooked Indian dishes, frozen Indian bread, sweets, etc. and you should also try out the local cuisine too. Ask your local student friends to suggest must-try dishes at affordable restaurants.

Climate Change and The Appropriate Clothing:

Find information about the seasons and temperatures of the country/city you are going to and carry clothes to suit the weather. Winters can be extremely harsh, so you need to carry appropriate warm clothes and footwear. Although most places will have indoor heating, you should be suitably dressed when you are outside, to avoid any illnesses. Also, carry some traditional Indian clothes to wear in the festivals and other formal occasions.

Taking Care of your Health:

A change in the environment, diet and weather may lead to ill health. Carry some basic medicines from home which can be taken for minor illnesses. Also, carry your doctor’s prescription for the same. If you have a serious medical problem, contact the Student Health Service at your college or university. The cost of health care in most foreign countries is extremely high. It is important for you to get health/ medical insurance. Most colleges and universities require students to have insurance for sickness and accidents before they start attending classes.

Studying in a new educational system and living in a different culture can be enriching and rewarding. It is also a tremendous opportunity to learn new things and have new experiences. Going with an open mind and being open to change will help in making the most of this experience.