Studying abroad is something many students dream about, and it’s easy to see why. Studying in another country can be a lot of fun! You get to immerse yourself in a new culture, gain valuable international experience in your area of study, and make new friends.
Unfortunately, the reality of studying abroad can be jarring to some students. It might sound like a lot of fun, but it also comes with many challenges.
How do you know if you’re prepared for those challenges?
Knowing you’re ready to study abroad means more than just thinking it sounds like fun. Here are five practical signs that you’re ready to study in another country.
You Know What It Takes
You can’t just hop on a plane and get off at the nearest university. There are quite a few studies abroad requirements you have to be aware of in order for your trip to be successful. You’re only ready to head overseas if you know what those requirements are, and you have met them all.
A few requirements to consider include:
- You must be in good academic standing, which likely includes a minimum GPA average.
- Applications must be submitted well in advance to show you’re serious about the program.
- Active participation is usually required in seminars that will prepare you for studying abroad.
- Be prepared to submit a final report when your experience is complete.
Attending college can be challenging for some students because parents are no longer looking over their shoulder to make sure they’re getting their work done. Getting stuff done can be even more difficult when studying abroad.
It can be tempting to skip out on class or put off starting that paper so you can go on an adventure through the city. You have to remember that you’re studying abroad—not vacationing abroad!
You have to be focused, and you have to know how to stop procrastination in its tracks. Studying abroad is only for you if you know you can put your nose to the grindstone and put your coursework first, even if you’d rather attend a local music concert.
You Aren’t Afraid to Ask Questions
Asking questions can be difficult. Asking for help can be even more difficult. If you aren’t good at asking questions or asking for help, studying abroad may not be for you.
Chances are, you’ll be asking more questions from professors and teachers than you would back home because coursework is likely to be different than what you’re used to in your stateside classes.
You’ll need more help too. You may have to ask someone where a class is in another language, or how to use strange ingredients to make a meal.
You’re only ready to study abroad if you don’t mind asking for questions and receiving help from people you don’t know very well.
You Enjoy Being Outside Your Comfort Zone
There are a lot of benefits to getting outside your comfort zone. It’s a great way to grow, it will boost your self-confidence, and you’ll be exposed to new opportunities, but that doesn’t mean getting outside your comfort zone is easy.
If you’re the type to go to the same restaurants all the time, or you complete classes online instead of attending them in person, you may not be ready to study abroad. Even the simplest things, like street signs and how floors are numbered, can be different abroad, which can be scary for someone who isn’t ready for the challenge.
You Aren’t Prone to Homesickness
It’s normal to be homesick when you’re away. There are things you can do to cure homesickness while you’re gone, but the easiest way to prevent homesickness is to think about whether it’s something you aren’t prone to before you leave.
Consider in advance how you think you will feel missing an important milestone, like a birthday or a wedding? Do you live at home? How hard will it be to miss a holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, if you can’t return home?
If homesickness is a huge problem, you may not want to study abroad. If you are determined, consider a shorter program, or plan a flight home in the middle of your studies.
If the only thing you consider when studying abroad is how much fun you think you’ll have, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Instead, consider these signs to determine if you’re ready for a trip abroad, and you can increase the chances of experiencing a successful semester.