No matter how similar your new country may be to your home country, there are bound to be things which trip you up. From confusing bus timetables to unfamiliar weather, new cuisine to language barriers, being an international student is not without befuddling moments.
What might be a social norm at home could be totally different in your university country.
Eva Kvedaraviciute*, a University of Portsmouth student from Lithuania spoke to Study International about her experiences studying in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic as well as her sandwich year in Spain.
“To be honest, I didn’t really feel a big cultural shock [when I moved to the UK from Lithuania],” Kvedaraviciute told Study International. “To me, the worst part was probably when I moved to Prague and I didn’t understand what people where talking about as I don’t speak Czech!”
Kvedaraviciute left Lithuania to study International Business in the UK and it opened up even more doors for international studying. She has since undertaken a semester away in Prague and a year in Barcelona.
“For example, in the UK it wasn’t a shock as I could understand people in the shops [and] I could understand the street signs and so on. But in Prague I understood literally nothing so it was a bit scary! What if I get lost or I need help but no one would understand me?” Kvedaraviciute said.
She explained she felt the same when she moved to Barcelona for her sandwich year.
The language barrier, unsurprisingly, is often the biggest challenge international students face. How to tackle it? Time, Kvedaraviciute said.
“You can’t learn a new language in a day, but once you know the city, [and] you have friends or colleagues that speak the same language as you, you stop paying attention to how people on the street or shops talk,” she said.
“In the first week or two, when you don’t know anyone and you are alone, you want interaction so you hear and listen to people waiting for [the] bus etc. But when you find friends, you can talk to them and that language barrier doesn’t seem like a barrier anymore.”
Kvedaraviciute admitted it isn’t always a breeze adapting to life in the UK.
After three years, “I’m still not sure what side to look at when I cross the road,” she joked.
Whatever you make of your new country and whatever challenges you face, you are bound to come out stronger and better for it. Take each day as it comes – and enjoy!
* Student has chosen to use a pseudonym.