Where to turn for support while studying abroad

26 Nov 2023
8 mins read
Written by Aditi

Hey, ever dreamt of studying abroad? It can be pretty amazing, right? You get to experience a new culture, learn a new language, and try out different ways of learning. But let’s not sugarcoat it, there can be some tough times too. Feeling like an outsider, missing home, dealing with peer pressure, and facing stiff competition can all take a toll.

And your mind can be like a hamster on a wheel with all those “what ifs”. So, who can you turn to when you need a little clarity?

Well, before that. take a deep breath and remember, help is just around the corner. There are support groups out there ready to help you navigate the ups and downs of living abroad. Let’s take a look at a few.

International student services

Let’s talk about the International Student Services at your school. Trust me, when you’re moving halfway across the world, these guys are a big deal. Chances are, they’re the first people you’ll connect with before you even hop on the plane.

They handle all the important stuff like immigration advice, giving you a heads-up about the culture and day-to-day challenges, and even setting up social and diversity events. They also plan some pretty cool trips. All of this is designed to help you feel less like an outsider and more at ease with your studies and new surroundings.

And remember those friendly faces during your first week? Yep, that’s them. They’re the ones helping you get settled in, on top of any orientation program your academic department might offer.

Have you thought about joining a student society? Trust me, it’s not just about making new friends – though that’s a big plus! It’s also about spicing up your social life. Picture this: hanging out and having fun with folks who share your interests. Whether you’re into sports, particular subjects, cheerleading, music or dance, there’s a society for you.

You might be interested in: Studying abroad? 7 biggest fears and how to overcome them

Student societies

So, you’re probably thinking, ‘Is this just another hobby club?’ Nope, not at all. We’re talking about student unions, academic and educational organizations, community service groups, and more. These are tied to the programs you’re enrolled in, the causes you’re passionate about, or perhaps the desire to give back to future students.

You might be thinking, ‘Well, I’m just here to make friends.’ Sure, that’s part of it. But there’s so much more to it. If you dive into organizing events, you’re actually laying the groundwork for your future career. Each event involves research, budgeting, fundraising, promotion, and finally, pulling off an amazing show. Okay, it may not add 20 years of experience to your resume, but trust me, these experiences are invaluable. They offer real-world examples of your skills and qualities. So why not take the plunge and get involved.

Hobby club

Ever considered joining a hobby club at your university? It doesn’t matter if you’re into sports, acting, or playing a musical instrument. You can share these passions with other students and keep the good vibes rolling.

The great thing is, it’s like an instant conversation starter. No need to rack your brain for what to say next. It’s like having a secret handshake that helps you connect with people while exploring your favourite hobbies. Say goodbye to awkward small talk!

But here’s the best bit. When you’re doing something you love, your confidence just naturally blossoms. It’s like stepping into a cosy, familiar space where even mundane worries like figuring out the laundry or striking up a chat with someone new seem as minor as a tiny pebble in your shoe. You’ll find yourself radiating confidence as you effortlessly navigate conversations.

Plus, you can get involved in as many events as you like and show off your talents. Not only does this help you bond with the people around you, but those jamming sessions could even inspire you to pick up a new skill!

You might be interested in: Important financial considerations for studying abroad

Local police department

So, picture this: It’s your first day at school, and you’re ushered into a safety talk. Now, this isn’t the time to zone out or start daydreaming about lunch. Especially when you’re fresh in town and still getting your bearings.
These safety talks are run by the local police department. Because let’s face it, being safe in a new place is super important. They’ll arm you with some survival tips – and no, that’s not an overstatement. Life has a way of throwing curveballs when you least expect them. And if something does go wrong, you’ll know exactly who to turn to – yep, the local police department.

If anything feels off or suspicious, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. If you witness a crime or find yourself being hassled by someone, keep calm and dial up the local police department. Let them know where you are and what’s going on.

Local hospital or clinic

Getting sick when you’re alone overseas is the absolute pits, right? You can’t moan to your parents or have mom deliver a steaming bowl of soul-soothing soup. Instead, you’ve got to adult up and find your way to a hospital or clinic on your own.

But here’s the silver lining: most study programs abroad require you to have student health insurance. So, make sure you tick that box with your institution before signing up for the program. As part of the deal, you’ll get a card that covers you for basic illnesses and accidents – even accidental death or loss of a limb. And guess what? Most universities have their own hospitals too. So, rest assured, you won’t be racking up debt or dragging yourself halfway across town to get treatment.

But all jokes aside, if your program doesn’t provide mandatory health insurance, make sure you’ve got enough cash or a credit or debit card to cover medical costs. Better yet, look into getting a suitable insurance plan to sidestep those sky-high medical bills abroad. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Peer mentor programme

As a foreign student stepping onto campus for the first time. It’s kind of daunting, isn’t it? But don’t sweat it! There are programs specifically tailored for students like you. They’ll match you up with a senior student who’s already walked in your shoes and is ready to help you navigate your first year.

Think of them as an extra parent figure – minus the nagging!

This mentor (let’s call them your ‘academic big sibling’) isn’t just a guide, but also a role model and a resource. They’re there to help you connect with other international students and create a tight-knit community. They’ll provide the support and direction you need to excel academically, letting you focus on your studies without the emotional stress.

They’ll also link you up with all sorts of resources, both on and off-campus, and chat with you about any worries or challenges you might encounter as an international student. It’s like having your very own personal cheerleader who’s already run the race.

Some schools expect you to meet with your mentor a certain number of times each semester for professional or social activities. This could range from attending workshops to keeping a mentor journal or even participating in required surveys or assessments.

Just bear in mind that some schools require you to maintain good academic standing throughout college.

So, why not take the plunge? Just hop onto your school’s portal and request a peer mentor. Believe me, it’s a game-changer!

Family schemes

You know how the holidays can make you really homesick, right? But hey, being away from home doesn’t mean you’re stuck without any festivities. In fact, you might even start celebrating your host country’s holidays too!

If you’re lucky, your school might have a little something up its sleeve. They might pair you with a local family so you can experience their holiday traditions first-hand. Imagine sharing a delicious meal and seeing how they prep and celebrate. It’s almost like a match-making service, right?

Sure, it might feel a bit like that, but remember, they’re just making the introductions. You’ll need to be the one to break the ice, ask what’s expected of you (like, should you bring gifts? Probably a good idea), and find out what time you’re supposed to show up. Trust me, it’s an experience worth having!

Before you go…

Studying abroad is a big deal, right? And when you’re far from home, getting support is crucial. So is being able to send money overseas back to your loved ones. That’s where Instarem comes in, making these two essentials a breeze.

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Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned. 

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