Subscribe Popup

- See more at:

The 4 challenges international students face abroad

Studying abroad is an incredible experience that brings both personal and professional growth. Living in another country and immersing yourself in a different culture is very rewarding but may come with some challenges. Here are some tips on common issues to help make your experience stress free:

1. Feeling Homesick

Getting out of your comfort zone might be fun at first, but after a few weeks of fun, you might start to miss your family and friends. The people who know you the best, are not with you to share the incredible experience you are going through. Bringing your pet along to study abroad is one way to stay less homesick, but here are a few other ideas:

  • Make new friends that will become your family abroad. 
  • Stay in touch with everyone back home by downloading apps such as: Facebook, Skype, Watssap, Viber and more.
  • Find your local community. 
It is always good to share your new adventures with someone familiar and to also stay up to date with news from back home.

2. Finding a job 

Studying abroad might seem like the most expensive thing in the world. Getting a scholarship is one way to fund the experience, but you might also need to find a job, which will allow you to keep swiping your credit cards.

After sending your student visa application and proving that that you meet the study permit requirements, you need to find out how many hours (if at all), you can work yearly.

In the USA, international students are not allowed to work, except in jobs on campus. It is recommended to either ask the faculty members or career centers in your university about opening jobs, or just search their website for job opportunities.

A campus job can be anything like: becoming a library assistant, tutor, lifeguard, teacher's assistant, doing research and more. Keep in mind that these are part time jobs and are usually also temporary jobs, to allow students to stay focused on their studies.

3. Losing your passport abroad

Your passport is your most valuable document and it is very important to take extra care of it when you are abroad. Many places only accept passports as a form of identification for foreigners so you often have to carry it around.

Losing your passport may seem very scary and is definitely something you want to avoid but in case it happens, here is what you should do:

  • File a police report at the nearest police station.  
  • Find and contact the closest embassy or consulate of your home country.  
  • If you have a flight waiting for you, and you need to travel right away, you can ask for an emergency passport, if not, you will have to wait a bit for the new one to be ready. 
  • Keep in mind that you might need to pay a fee for the passport renewal. 
It is also extremely important to have both a document and an electronic copy of the document for reference to prove your citizenship.

4. Overcoming language barriers 

Studying abroad is an excellent opportunity to learn a new language, whether the language spoken in your new home is Spanish, French, English, Italian, Russian or Chinese.

Taking a language course is one way to get familiarized with the local slang words or to ordering food at a restaurant.
Being surrounded by native speakers is also a huge help in learning a language.

A nice nice way to practice “social language” while making new friends is finding a tandem. A tandem is someone who wants to learn the language you speak and is native in the language you want to learn, it’s a win-win for everyone – and it's like a free course! Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be shy, talk, talk and talk a little more!

Facing challenges is an important part of life that makes your grow. Your journey abroad will be so rewarding you will be wondering why you didn’t go earlier. No one said it's going to be an easy journey, but at the end of the day, it will be worth it. 

How to study abroad with a disability

Studying abroad is an eye opening experience that should be accessible to everyone, but for people with disabilities, studying abroad might seem impossible. If you fear that you might not have access to all the resources you need in the new land or on campus abroad, we have some good news for you. There are people who did it before you, and there will be people who do it after you. So why shouldn't you too, step on this journey and enrich your life? According to The Institute of International Education, there is a rise in interest in study abroad programs among people with disabilities. Today, it's becoming easier for the prospective scholar with a long term disability, to make this dream come true

Here are some tips on how to go about doing this:

First: find the right program
Finding the right program can be a difficult task for anyone. Here are some tips to find the one that best fits your needs: 

1.    Resources:
There are a number of resources that can be used to find information on accessibility services. Abroad With Disabilities is one of them. It is a nonprofit organization, that aims to provide information on how students can study abroad with their disabilities and is an excellent resource to begin research.
It was co-founded by Juanita Lillie, who is visually impaired and faced challenges while on a three month study program in Costa Rica. That didn't stop her from traveling, zip-lining, horseback riding and experiencing the place to the fullest. 

2.    Contact schools directly:
If you’re interested in a specific program but are unsure whether or not you will be able to get the right accommodations, it's best to get in touch with the school's staff directly. 
Have an honest conversation about what accommodations you need. Make sure to contact both the program’s study abroad faculty and disabilities faculty to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

3.   Make a list of programs:  
You find a school that has responded well to your needs and has made you feel comfortable, add it to your list of potential programs to apply to. Don’t settle on a program just because it can accommodate you. It may take some time and effort, but at the end of it, you will find a study program that suits your needs. 
If a school responds unfavorably to your needs, don't get offended. Some schools don't have enough resources to provide certain accommodations. On the positive side, there are other schools which will be more than happy to meet your expectations and provide you with an incredible experience.

Second: Go the Distance
Once you’ve found a program that you’re excited about and feel comfortable with in regard to accommodations, you may find that your mind is still not at ease. This is a normal reaction for anyone going abroad. Know that you’ve done your research and that you are ready to take the next step: actually going.

1. Make sure you have all you need
If you take any specific medication, don't forget to bring a supply along. Also, be sure to bring a copy of the prescriptions and get medical health insurance before you start your travels. 

2. While abroad talk to the school staff: 
Maintaining an open dialogue with disabilities staff is key. If your needs are not being met, they will be able to do something about it. 
Have a good relationship with your teachers, they should be aware of your needs so they can help you if needed. 

3. Prioritize: 
It’s also important to not take on too many tasks. Everyone has their limits and in order to minimize stress its better to have a comfortable amount to do rather than more than you can handle. Fortunately having too little to do will never be an issue while abroad.

Other Resources
Lastly, studying abroad is a great opportunity to try new things, learn about new cultures, and experience the world from new perspectives while being in an academic setting. It’s an opportunity that everyone should be able to take advantage of regardless of a disability.
Here are some other resources regarding health and studying abroad provided by GradTrain:

1. How to Calculate the Living Expenses and Tuition of Studying Abroad in the United States. This is helpful because many of these can include treatment for a disability or health insurance. These costs should be taken into consideration when looking at programs.

2. Packing tips for international students. This is relevant because some disabilities require packing specific items such as medicine or prosthetic equipment.