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7 Things No One Tells You About Studying Abroad

Get ready for the biggest adventure of your life.
PHOTO: Pixabay

1. You’ll always try to find ways to be as matipid as possible.

Everyday expenses that you used to take for granted will pile up. Be proactive by doing your research, and you’ll be amazed at the wealth of offers and discounts available for students. Travel cards that deduct a certain amount from your train fare, 10% discounts at restaurants and shops, free printing at your school—take advantage and never feel ashamed about having to be stingy! You might also want to check notice boards around your school or dorm. Students who are moving out or simply looking for ways to make cash might just be selling appliances and household items you need for a way marked-down price.

2. Doing laundry is a difficult and constant battle.

If you’ve never worked a washing machine in your life, prepare to struggle as you figure out just how to work your dorm’s old-fashioned looking set. Your mom’s advice to separate your colors from your whites will also haunt you on your first attempt to wash your underwear—only to find them stained pink from a lone red sock. Oh, and those knit sweaters you’re so excited to wear? Hand-washing them will be an assault to your non-existent muscles, because those things get really, really heavy when wet. You’ll definitely have to get creative about drying them in the middle of winter, too.

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3. Terrorist threats are an all-too-real part of your existence.

Living in a big, bustling city has its advantages, but it also means targeted attacks and hate crimes hit closer to home. It certainly doesn’t help when your parents constantly fear for your safety and never miss a chance to tell you to stay away from public places. While you do have to be vigilant (as you would in any place, regardless of how busy or peaceful it is), you also need to remember that you can’t live your life cowering inside your room for fear of a random shooting or a bomb threat. Yes, you should take the necessary precautions and listen to government warnings if and when they send them out, but you should also grant yourself the freedom to enjoy and explore your new city.

4. Your first winter won’t come easy.

It really won’t. For us tropical dwellers who only know scorching heat or the occasional breezy rainy day, living through that first winter will be tough. You’ll find yourself getting out of bed and commuting to work in relative darkness, then leaving school at 4:00 p.m. to the exact same view. You’ll curse the heavy winds, the icy pavements, and your frozen nose and fingers—then rejoice at the fact that winter thankfully has an end date. In the meantime, bundle up and don’t try to act like you’re too ~*cool*~ for gloves or a scarf.

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5. It won’t always be as picture-perfect as movies or shows depict it to be.

A lot of us have an idea in our heads of how exciting and fun the whole experience will be, and for the most part, we’re right. But once things settle down, reality will kick in, bringing with it stress, terror profs, rapidly emptying bank accounts, and all sorts of unpleasant things that are ultimately part of life. You’ll quickly realize that moving away from home doesn’t mean abandoning your responsibilities—if anything, they’re magnified because you’re in unfamiliar territories and figuring out a whole lot of things on your own. So while you’re having a grand time Instagramming every single thing you see, there’s also that looming feeling of having to adult in all sorts of ways.

6. Long distance relationships are a pain in the ass, but they’re also incredibly fulfilling.

If they work out, that is (LOL). Kidding aside, be prepared to exert as much effort as you can if you’re determined to survive your time apart. You and your partner should establish what you want out of the relationship. It might seem stifling or too serious to create boundaries or ~*rules*~, but it’s important that you’re both on the same page if you really plan on making everything work. And once you reach the end and finally reunite, you can take extra pleasure in the fact that you guys somehow survived despite the miles and time difference between you.

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7. It will change the way you see things.

And I don’t just mean because of the formal education you’ll be receiving. When you experience other cultures firsthand and meet people who don’t share the same background as you, the tendency is always for your mind to expand. You’ll see the way they view things, you’ll learn what makes them tick, and you’ll realize that there’s so much more to the world than what you already knew. 

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