9 Common Challenges International Students Face Abroad

9 Common Challenges International Students Face Abroad's photoBy Ernest Emeka
Thu Jul 18 2024
9 Common Challenges International Students Face Abroad

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The first thing Joyce Adeyemi did when the chilling wind hit her face at Heathrow Airport, London, was to kneel with her hands lifted to the heavens in reverence. As she celebrated herself, she didn't mind the little ruckus she must have created. Coming to the United Kingdom as an international student was a dream come true. However, she didn't realize that she would miss Nigeria for weeks.

Read: Accommodation for International Students in the United States: A Guide

Studying abroad is a rewarding experience for millions of international students. It offers them an opportunity to become better in every aspect of life. After studies, many make breaking news in their fields with witty innovations and ideas. However, studying abroad comes with challenges. 

9 Common Challenges International Students Face Abroad

Let’s look at some of these challenges and consider ways you can tackle them.

Finding a good accommodation 

International students often find it challenging to grab the right accommodation. Many students relocate abroad, erroneously believing they can find accommodation in minutes. On-campus student accommodations have limited spaces to house everyone, which opens up off-campus housing options to more students. 

1.    Housing scams have become a common occurrence abroad. You should not make payments to an apartment you have not seen. 

2.    We have different websites like Amberstudent that can help you with accommodation.

Fear of Missing out (FOMO) is real!

The fear of missing out abroad is underrated. Since you are far from home, the thought of missing out on your loved ones can come up, especially for partners and families. Here is how to overcome this challenge:

1.    Ensure you keep tabs on your friends and loved ones. Find time to ring them up or drop messages.

2.    You can make video calls fun with them or create family games for everyone.

3.    Find ways to overcome the feeling.

Culture Shock

Studying abroad requires learning and adjusting to a new lifestyle and culture. You may find some lifestyles shocking, especially if you have no idea about them. Reading cultural shocks online is one thing; living in such a culture is a different ballgame. How do you cope with culture shock?

1.    Do your research about the cultural differences, local etiquette, and customs before you go.

2.    Ask questions when you relocate. 

3.    Explore the city and make new friends.

Social Connections

Many international students struggle to make friends with people from different backgrounds. The limited social connections abroad can leave you in a box. Here is how to make social connections as an international student:

1.    You can join school clubs related to your field of study.

2.    Join virtual spaces to foster genuine friendships.

 Language Barriers

A common challenge students face abroad is a language barrier, especially in non-English speaking destinations. In addition, some students struggle to communicate fluently or understand easily in English-speaking countries. The fast pace at which people speak and the use of slang can pose challenges to international students.

Meanwhile, some students often feel reluctant to ask for clarification out of fear of making mistakes or insecurity. Here is a simple way to cope with the language barrier:

Read: Hotel and Accommodation Scam: An International Student Guide

Before you go, you should learn the language with online resources like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo.

1.    Practice speaking every day.

2.    Visit public spaces like parks or markets to talk to people. 

Financial Challenges

International students from developing countries experience financial challenges abroad.

1)    Getting Jobs and Loans. You may not find a job immediately after you come to a country. Sometimes, it takes weeks or months to land your first job. Unfortunately, you have limited student work hours, except during vacations. In addition, getting student loans may take time before you can get one.

2)    Pressure to Achieve. Many international students feel constrained to explore the full range of possible careers because of the pressure to make ends meet. The presence of "Black Tax" and high living costs has driven many students to struggle with finances. How do you cope with financial challenges as an international student?

1.    Know how much money you spend on different things as an international student.

2.    Consider scholarships or grants specifically for international students.

3.    Don't be pressured to send money home when you have little or nothing abroad. 

4.    You should plan financially by setting up a budget.

Academic Challenges

You will notice that the learning style abroad is the opposite of what you experienced at home. In addition, you have academic expectations that must be met. It could throw you off track if you don’t grasp this challenge.

Academic writing and research are underrated in developing countries, and many international students feel pressured. Also, schools abroad emphasize classroom discussions. Sometimes, discussion formats translate into debates that may seem odd to some students. 

9 Common Challenges International Students Face Abroad

How to cope with the academic challenge of studying abroad

1.    You should take proactive measures to understand how your host country functions in its education setting.

2.    Research your university's academic expectations and get yourself prepared.

3.    Don't hesitate to ask for clarification. 

Comfort Food 

No matter how much you love junk food, you will want to try cooked meals. Many Africans find their host food lists alarming and not tasteful at the onset. The craving for homemade food will hit you hard, especially if you have little money to eat out. Food is an aspect of our identity and a cultural element that plays a part in our morale. 

How to cope with this food challenge as an international student

1.    When you exhaust your initial supply, you can find your preferred ingredients from your home country's stores abroad.

2.    Learn how to cook before travelling abroad.

3.    You can eat at some local restaurants in your destination.

Adapting to a New Lifestyle 

International students face challenges associated with cultural norms, weather conditions, accommodation rules, etc. While each destination offers something unique, many students might take time to adapt to their lives abroad. 

You can adjust to your new environment in the following way:

1.    You should familiarise yourself with local customs.

2.    Explore different areas within your host city.

3.    Read up on the weather conditions before you travel.

4.    Ask for clarity if you have challenges.

5.    Talk with other students.

Living abroad might seem quite difficult when you relocate newly, but it becomes more exciting and fun in the future.

Read: 10 Best European Universities for International Students

 We hope this article can help overcome the highlighted challenges and help with a smooth transition to studying abroad. Before you go abroad, the Pay4Me App can help you make cross-border payments in minutes.


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