Cultural Experience | Resources

5 Untold Secrets of Study Abroad

Going to a new school in a far away foreign city is exciting and wonderful, but nothing is ever perfect. Every worthwhile adventure has its fair share of challenges.

“You’re so lucky!”

“You’re living the dream.”

“I’m so jealous.”

If you’re a college tourist, chances are you’ve heard your fair share of these sort of comments from your friends and family. Although your loved ones mean well, everyone who’s studied abroad knows that travelling isn’t as glamorous as it looks like on social media.

Here are five lessons that students learn while studying abroad but will never talk about:

1. You Need to Travel Your Own Way

Should you bring a backpack or a suitcase?

Do you want to stay at a hostel, splurge on a cheap hotel, or rent an Airbnb?

Would you enjoy travelling most by yourself, with your friends, or with your special someone?

There are so many choices to make when you’re planning a trip. It’s important to do some research in order to weigh the pros and cons of each every available option, but ultimately, there’s no right way or wrong way to explore this world.

Travelling should be for yourself, not for anyone else. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to feel pressured to conform to a specific type of travelling because people are so passionate about their personal travel choices. Don’t base your trips on what the guidebooks say that you’re obligated to see and do.

Explore the world in the best way that works for you.

Angela Serednicki Wall

2. You Might Not Like Your School

When people ask you about how you like your  new school, they’re expecting you to rave about how much you love it there and how you don’t ever want to go back to your home college. Although that’s the case for a lot of students, sometimes a particular program or another country’s method of teaching isn’t the best fit for you.  And that’s okay!

No amount of research or planning can compare to the experience of actually immersing yourself in a different academic setting.

If you find yourself in this situation, remember to stay positive and have a professional attitude. You never know when the connections you’ve made abroad can be beneficial in your future. Keep in mind that academic institutions open the doors to meeting amazing individuals and can introduce you to incredible professional opportunities.

The best part about going to school is that any type of education is always beneficial to your growth.

Bike brick

3. Don’t Fall Into The Comparison Trap

Moving to a new city is never as easy as it looks like on Instagram. Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to assume that another person is having a better study abroad experience than you. Never forget that travelling isn’t a competition. The number of countries you’ve visited, the duration of your trip, the amount of money you’ve saved or splurged doesn’t necessarily mean a person has had a better trip than you.

There’s always going to be moments of doubt when you question the decisions you’ve made. When this happens, remember that your experience is unique: your favorite memories and what you wish you would have done during your time abroad are all part of the experience.

CPHAquarium -Serednicki


4. Tech Addiction Is Real

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Just because you didn’t tweet about something or didn’t have the time to post about it on Instagram doesn’t mean it never happened. When you’re studying abroad and travelling, there’s this strong need to Snapchat every single story or post to your Facebook newsfeed about being #blessed.

While it’s important to document this exciting time, try your best to take a step back from technology when you’re travelling.

Consciously remind yourself to live in the present and stay away from your phone.

Serednicki - Photo

5. Dating Abroad Can Be Tricky

As a single 21-year-old who spent half a year living in a country famous for its tall blonde men, I can attest to the magic of falling in lust in a foreign land. That being said, dating abroad doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suddenly the star of your own romantic comedy.

Everyone has this daydream of falling in love with that handsome stranger with an irresistible foreign accent, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Sometimes there are too many cultural differences between a couple, or the thought of making a commitment with the pressure of a looming return flight home is too difficult.  Whether you want a short fling or a the real thing, take it day by day, be honest with each other and establish your expectations from the start.

George Ezra- Angela Serednicki

What did you wish you knew before studying abroad? Share your advice  in the comments below! 

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Angela Serednicki

Ryerson University | 11 stories

Angela Serednicki is a writer living in Toronto, Canada.

2 responses to “5 Untold Secrets of Study Abroad”

  1. I have just moved to Montreal for a 3 month study collaboration as part of my PhD. The comment you made about switching off technology is totally true! I find myself trying to snapchat everything I see. I’ll definitely be doing more ‘switching off’ in the future.

    • Angela says:

      Montreal is such a fun city, I can see why you’d want to snapchat everything you see! Best of luck with your PHD and thank you for your kind comment.

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