Expat Life

Where to Turn for Support While Studying Abroad

Student Support Centres
Student Support Centres
Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Going to study abroad is a dream come true for most students. While the experience comes with highs such as exposure to a new culture, a new language and newer methods of learning, it also comes with a set of lows such as alienation, homesickness, peer pressure and competition. Coping with so many life changes all alone can be daunting, but knowing that there is help around the corner can be quite comforting during these troubled times. Here are a few support groups that can help you cope with the challenges of staying abroad.

International Student Support Departments & Peer Support Groups: Moving across the oceans is a big deal. The international student support department at your university will welcome you when you arrive and extend its support throughout your stay in the country. It takes care of crucial things such as timely visa, immigration advice, guidance regarding the culture and everyday challenges, organizing social meets and diversity meets, plus planning exciting trips. It prevents you from feeling like an outsider, helps you cope better with the pressure of studies and environmental change. Since it is easy to comprehend when a peer is explaining, peer support groups are the next best support for you. They will help you blend in more easily by providing you with the knowledge, experience, emotional, social or practical help in the new place.

Student Societies: Student societies don’t just help you make new friends, they improve your social life. Imagine the ease and fun when you’ll get to interact with someone with similar interests. It has a great impact on your future career moves such as employability with enhancement in personal skills, qualities and knowledge. There are sports societies, subject societies and then come others such as cheerleading, music, dance, etc. In the wake of organizing events to continue the work of your society, you will also learn to conduct market research, plan budgets, raise funds, promote the event before you finally deliver great performance at a competition or at an event. Student society activities do not only study your CV, but also help you be a part of activities that help boost your self-confidence.

Academic Tutor Or Mentor: An academic mentor or tutor is a positive role model for every student that helps them to develop various skills and strategies necessary to reach their programme goals and get prepared for the future. Your academic mentor will guide you regarding time management and inculcate the importance of habits like taking notes, reading textbooks, active listening, etc. During your study programme abroad, they will help you learn how to own your interactive sessions with fellow students and minimize your dependency on them for future success in the programme.

Student ‘Family’ Schemes: Many universities run ‘family’ schemes for their students to battle homesickness. As an expat student, you will be allotted a senior student as your ‘parent’. You can talk to these people about your social or academic struggles such as difficulty understanding lectures, social awkwardness in the new environment, etc. As these seniors may have been in a similar position as you, they will probably have the best advice to get you through these issues.

Local Police Department: Your safety in a new place is one of the biggest concerns. Besides being aware of your surroundings, you should put your trust in the local police department in case of any mishap. You should always take care of yourself and your belongings. In case of anything unfamiliar or suspicious, you should quickly get in touch with the local police department. If you’re witnessing a crime or being bothered by unwanted elements, pull yourself together and call the local police department to apprise them of your location and situation.

Local Hospital Or Clinic: Most study programmes abroad require you to participate in a student health insurance program. Make sure you check for the same with your institution before signing up for the study programme. Every student also gets a card that covers basic illnesses and accidents, including accidental death or loss of a limb. If you don’t have a mandatory health insurance, make sure you have enough cash or a debit or credit card to pay for medical services. However, it’s best to find yourself a suitable insurance plan to avoid insane medical expenses abroad.

Hobby Clubs: Join a hobby club at your university. Whether you’re a sportsperson or like acting or play a musical instrument, you can follow it up with other students and keep yourself happy. You can be a part of as many events being planned and can enjoy regaling your friends with your talent. This will help you bond better with people around you. Jamming sessions can also encourage you to learn a new skill.

These support systems abroad not only help you get through one of the toughest phases of your life, but also opens your mind to new ideas, beliefs and experiences that go a long way in making you a global citizen.