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The study abroad spectrum of your comfort zone

The thought of relocating to another country to study abroad may seem like an opportunity for new adventures for some, but for others it’s quite a scary thought. Whether you are moving abroad to study in America, Canada, London, Germany, China, Mexico or any other destination, dealing with at least a bit of culture shock and adjustment challenges is inevitable. To advance your career and get global perspective, studying abroad may not be something you can miss-out on, but if you are scared of the changes, here are some things to consider if you want to stay on safe side and feel more at home:

1. Study program: semester abroad vs. a degree

If you're having a hard time accepting the thought of committing to 3 years in a foreign country, doing a bachelors’ degree, masters’ degree or a doctorate, you might want to consider doing a semester abroad instead of a full degree. Most higher education institutes have international programs for longer and shorter periods of time which students can apply for. Using this facility in the university you study in, whether it's in your home country or not, can keep you sheltered in many ways. There's not half as much bureaucracy as when applying for a degree abroad. You do need to get accepted for the program, but since you're already studying at the university, you're half way there. Plus, in many programs there are no additional tuition fees to the ones you are already paying. By studying for a certain time period abroad, you are gaining cultural experience and gaining the benefits of the experience without dealing with many of the hardships of doing a degree abroad. Just make sure you only stay for the honeymoon phase. 

2. Destination: close vs. far

Distance does matter. As you fly further away from home, the weather changes, the food becomes foreign, the languages are less similar and the cultures differ. Choose whether you'd like to stay in your comfort zone, or expose yourself to complete new worlds. For example, living in a country where you don't speak the language that's being spoken can cause more of a culture shock than living in a country where the language is familiar to you. Don't forget that the further you move, the more expensive your flight back home will be.  If you want to stay closer to home and to go back and visit every now and then when one of your friends gets married or for a family birthday, this is something to consider. 

3. Living arrangement: dorms vs. renting an apartment

Living in a dorm on campus doesn't sounds as fun as renting out an apartment in the city center of Berlin, London, Barcelona or Mexico City, but it does save a lot of energy, time and money. If you think the search for an apartment is tedious, try searching for one abroad. In a country you haven't lived in before, you may not speak the language of, don’t know common portals to search on and are unaware of the standards and even familiar with the neighborhoods. Renting a room at university is the easy option. In many universities, the dorms are available on demand, the price is affordable and there’s no need to commute around the city catching trams, trains and buses to get to campus. Living in a dorm is one way to stay sheltered during your study abroad experience and even meet other students who chose that option too.  

4. Relocation: with a friend vs. alone

Moving abroad is a process which requires a lot of courage. Sometimes all you need to gain that courage is to do it with a friend. Relocating with a friend allows you to share the experience with someone and consult about different challenges which may appear. When studying abroad, you will meet a lot of people, and sometimes having a familiar friend who you know from home, can give a lot of confidence. 

There you have it. Four things to consider to keep your study abroad experience in your comfort zone. For more information, go to: 


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