Sunday, January 26, 2014

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Studying Abroad

Monash Abroad - United States of America
Monash Abroad - United States of America (Photo credit: Monash University)
by M. Patrick Quinn

Moving to another country to study is an increasingly popular idea among university students these days, and it's not hard to see why.

You get to experience and entirely different culture and learn all of the customs and idiosyncrasies of a new place, all while completing a degree. It's truly the best of both worlds.

However, there are some common mistakes that first timers who are studying in another country will eventually make. They're not huge and they're not life threatening, but they can definitely dampen your experience.

Here are some of the biggest blunders you can make while studying in a foreign land.


Do some research on the country you're studying in before you leave your home country. If you show up unprepared and ignorant of their customs and laws, you could find yourself in a whole world of trouble.

This is especially important in countries in Africa or Asia where customs differ greatly from those in North America. Before you leave, do some online research and maybe pick up an informative travel book that will guide you through the differences in culture.

Only Speaking English

While you don't have to be fluent in the language of the country you're studying in, you should at least know a few key words and phrases. If you show up in a new country and just start talking to everyone in English and expecting them to cater to you, it's a quick way to insult and upset people.

Even knowing words for "please" and "thank you," will most likely get you a smile; people know that you're trying, and they appreciate that. It's much better than assuming everyone should just be able to speak English, and you might even get someone who will teach you a thing or two and let you practice! 

Only Hanging Out With People From Your Country

You're halfway across the world; you came to study abroad, so why are you only socializing with people from your own country? You can do that at home! One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not getting to know the locals, or the other people from other countries who are here to study as well.

Try and get to know some of the people in town, and challenge yourself to meet people who aren't from your home country. You'll soak up much more culture and knowledge then you will otherwise, and hey, maybe you'll have a place to stay if you come back!

Only Traveling in a Group

While group traveling can be fun every now and then, relying solely on travel groups to take you around and show you the sights is not only lazy, but expensive. If you strike out on your own, you're going to see much more than just the standard sights.

Be impulsive, seek out restaurants or bars that are off the beaten path, explore on foot, and don't be afraid to get lost ... just be sure to bring a map.

Overall, the most important thing when studying abroad is just to get outside of your comfort zone once in a while - you'll be glad you did.

Visit John Cabot University for more information on study abroad scholarships.

Patrick Quinn is a Copywriter at Higher Education Marketing, a leading web marketing firm specializing in Google Analytics, Education Lead Generation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, and Pay Per Click Marketing, among other web marketing services and tools.

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