18th January 2020
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Enjoy Your year study abroad

Studying in a different country can be an exciting time. It could also be damaging if not properly handled. I wrote about my experience of culture shock and how it affected my grades in the first semester during my Masters programme.  For me, studying abroad is only an opportunity to gain academic knowledge, it is also a period of self-discovery and self-acceptance. During my studies in Budapest, I got to know myself in a way I couldn’t have fathomed and, I also felt validated. Living and studying abroad has given me the confidence to push forward with my chosen career. Along the line, I have gained some lifelong friends. I am going to share few things you can do when studying abroad for the first time:

Have an open mind

That is the first thing you must do. You are in a new country, new culture, new weather, new everything. Things might seem strange at first and you might not understand why things are that way. In short, you will feel like a fish out of water and, it’s completely normal to feel that way. However, you should keep an open mind. Be open to learning new things and understanding why things are that way. You might not agree with everything but that’s OK too. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand. Don’t wallow in ignorance or assumptions. ASK. Most times, you will find out that your culture isn’t much different and that humans are humans everywhere.

Make friends with people from around the world

What I find most times when studying in a new culture is that, people tend to stick to their kind. They make friends with people from the same or familiar cultures. This will do you no good at all. You might finish your studies with the same mentality and would have not gained any more skills apart from academic knowledge. You will also not gain the soft skills needed to work in today’s multicultural world. This is not to say you completely ignore those with same cultures as you. NO. But it would do you a lot of good to have a mix of friends. It helps that whenever you visit the countries where your friends are from, you would always have someone to lead you around.

Visit historical sites and places

Get to know your environment. Visit places that are historical and of value to the country. Traveling is always part of education. Visiting these places opens your mind and gets you connected to your new temporary home. It builds your knowledge of the world, sharpens your mental skills and boosts your confidence. You never can tell when this will be needed as you journey through life.

Don’t be afraid to try new food

I must admit that I am not adventurous when it comes to food. However, when I started learning to try foods different from my regular palate, it did me good. Trying Goulash soup in Budapest for the first time was really exhilarating. Or Achieke et Poisson in Cote d’Ivoire. I was glad I did. The food was quite different from what I was used to. And most importantly, I didn’t die. Trying new food won’t kill you I promise. You just ensure that you are not allergic to the ingredients and you are good to go.

These are just a few things to do when you find yourself in a new place of study. Take advantage of this opportunity that academics have given you. From my study in Budapest, Republic of Benin, Ghana and Georgia USA, I have made lifelong friends from all over the world. I also have a new perspective about life that I wouldn’t have gotten just sticking to what I knew. Don’t be afraid to explore, to learn and to enjoy.

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