The idea of travelling to a new and exciting country to study is certainly an appealing idea. You can probably find a great high school or college in your area if this sounds too difficult for you, but know that most students who study abroad do relish the experience. It’s a challenge – that’s for sure, but it’s also an adventure, and here is why.
You Will Miss Home
Most major cities feature something like a Chinatown or a Little Mexico. Outside of English speaking countries, you’ll even find America Towns and Little Londons. These areas are made up of people from other countries who want to surround themselves with the trappings of their homeland to stave off serious homesickness.
Even if you like to think of yourself as a free thinker, a rebel of sorts, even if you don’t consider yourself all that patriotic, being taken out of the environment you grew up in and placed somewhere else in the world is still a trying experience. It’s worth it if you have the opportunity to see the world, but after awhile, you will start to get a craving for foods and music and architecture and landscapes from your homeland.
Know the Law
It’s worth knowing customs laws wherever you’re flying. What may be legal in one country may not be in another, and some laws may surprise you. If you’re flying from one country to another, it’s pretty much a rule of thumb that you can’t bring any non-indigenous flora or fauna with you. If you have a pet hamster, for instance, you may want to leave him at home rather than try to sneak him into a country where he’s not native.
An escaped pet can cause serious damage to a country’s eco-system. For example, in Florida alligators are seen all over in the swamps, and some time ago people started buying boa constrictors as pets, then setting them free in the wild when they got to be too much of a hassle. The end result is that the boa constrictors and alligators wind up fighting one another and now you’ll see boa constrictors swallowing alligators whole. Maintaining a country’s eco-system is serious business.
If you’re going from Australia to the US or the UK, or vice versa, a lot of the customs you’ll encounter are merely slight variations on your own. Traveling to other countries you may be greatly surprised at just how different their traditions are from your own.
When it comes down to it, very little of what we believe, think, feel and do is inherent to all of humanity. We all eat and sleep, but beyond basic human functions, nearly every culture has its own idea of God, its own idea of what is and isn’t okay to eat, and what the custom is for shaking hands. Studying a guidebook is a good way to familiarize yourself with the unwritten rules of every individual society, and there’s a lot of information on the Internet, as well.
Finally, security is a big concern when travelling. Travelers are easy targets for pickpockets and con-men, even in other English speaking countries, and you need to make sure that you protect yourself. Try not to carry all your cash in one place, keep some in your luggage, some in your wallet, some in your sock, etc. A lot of cons play to your sense of sympathy, so don’t be bought by sob stories upon leaving the airport. Protect yourself and apply some common sense and you should be able to avoid cons and thieves.
Travelling and going to study abroad is certainly a challenge, and at the same time realization of a dream. It will give you some great opportunities and new experiences. But don’t forget that you still need to pass the exams and do well with your research papers. Create a good balance between your studies and the urge to explore your new environment, and you should be fine.