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The International Student's Guide to Surviving(and Thriving) Overseas.

Updated on January 28, 2020
Tinotenda Manyumbu profile image

Tinotenda is an international student at The University of Melbourne doing her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering.

Just be yourself

Do not lose yourself in an attempt to fit in

The foolproof collection

  • Do not lose yourself in an attempt to fit in. Just be yourself and blend in. There is no need to suddenly start doing things you never used to do and get involved in things you might end up regretting. Just be yourself.
  • Seek assistance when necessary. There's nothing embarrassing about needing help. If you need counselling, course advice or academic support, do not hesitate. The university staff will be willing to help and you'll realise that you're not the only one.
  • Join clubs and societies. Free food is the main thing(for me) but you'll also get to meet new people and interact with other students who might be doing your course. It is also a much needed(I hope) break from studying.

Tinotenda(Me)


Research

Make sure you have done sufficient research before you take off, this is for your convenience.

Must-know

  • Research before you arrive
  • Google maps is your friend
  • Be open... generally; to new people, food, cultures etc
  • Don't expect your new home to be like your home country, you’ll just end up in a weird state because you miss home so much and you’re not fully accepting of this new one because it's not like back home.

Misky

Bachelor of Science(Mechatronics Engineering Systems)

The University of Melbourne


Source

The classic essentials

  • Budget
  • Pray
  • Bring as much stuff from home as possible eg photos, food from back home. It will come in handy.

Palesa

Applied Medical Sciences

Swansea University Medical School


Don't be a crowd pleaser.

You are allowed to say no.

What no one else will tell you

  • Make friends from that particular country, it makes cultural adjustments much easier.
  • Develop the ability to say no if you don't already have it, it's very critical.
  • Don't put anyone on a pedestal and do not be intimidated by other students' backgrounds.

Ndibo

Mechanical Engineering

Monash University(Australia)


Aspiring doctor's survival toolkit

  • Learn to cook your favourite home meal, you will miss it.
  • There are always phases of settling in, first denial then adjusting and finally accepting. Adjusting is hard whether it is with the weather, culture or the workload. Be patient and make plans ahead and start studying every day, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE.
  • Loneliness and Depression may occur. Journaling each day's micro-achievements may improve this. Self-motivation is a huge pushing factor.

Isra

MBBS

MSU Malaysia

Have fun

Just enjoy the experience.

Alone on a strange island

  • know your purpose:- you know you went there to study so don’t lose track of that
  • Don’t let distance affect you:- getting homesick is normal and being away from “your kind” is normal too so don’t let racism affect you. Keep your morale high and you’ll be good
  • Stay in touch with God:- from experience I’ll say that staying in touch with God can really help you go a long way. With peer pressure having an effect on the majority of university students for a long time now I’ll say you will never lose track if God is by your side.
  • Have fun:- you are finally away from home and you are exploring something different in a different environment with new friends so make the most out of it. This is a new chapter in your life so don’t live to regret not making the most out of it when you had the opportunity.

Doreen

Bachelor's in Business Management

Middlesex University(Mauritius)

Source

The 'quickie'

  • Settle in, adjust and adapt as quickly as possible
  • Nurture your hunger to grow
  • Discipline yourself at all times.

Nasir

Biomedical Health Science

University of Derby(UK)


Don't stop growing

Nurture your hunger to grow

For the social butterflies

  • Talk to people and engage with others
  • Use your money wisely till you understand the currency change
  • Find fun activities to do, on and off-campus

Kabelo

Bachelor of Science(Mechanical Engineering Systems)

The University Of Melbourne(Australia)

Outer space perspective

  • Learn how to make your own food: Don't rely on takeout! (Cooking skills basically, or adapting to new cuisines). Students love FOOD! Many times, I don’t really think about when my next lecture is going to be, but when I’m going to have my next meal. It’s often tempting to order in or eat out, but one thing to remember is that nothing beats a balanced home-cooked meal. That’s in terms of cost, in terms of your own health and sometimes it’s even more time-saving. No student has the time to cook every day, well at least I know I don’t have that much time, so one could prepare food in bulk for the week or for two to three days. Then you can just reheat your food whenever you want to eat. Save money, save time, be healthy, be happy and improve your cooking skills.
  • Budgeting: This is probably one of the biggest challenges I faced when I started university. How do I make sure I don’t overspend and end up broke mid-month before my allowance comes in. Well, you must take a few precautions and be disciplined. Set out money for the necessities e.g. rent, bills, food. After prioritizing those needs, you can set out a limit for other luxuries e.g. Netflix, new items of clothing, fast food. Another tip that could be useful is paying for items using cash instead of your bank card. I guess you think about your purchase decision more when using cash than when it’s just a tap away. Don’t spend everything you get for the month during that month. Start from the early days to build a habit of saving. This will help you in the future where you could use your savings in case of emergencies. Remember, you’re no longer a phone call away from your parents, you’ve now got to be responsible and take care of yourself.
  • Study hard!: Now that you’ve learnt how to feed yourself, learnt how to be responsible financially, what’s left to do? Work your behind off and make the best of being abroad. For me, it’s really an opportunity to be able to pursue a career in Aerospace Engineering. A course that doesn’t just sound challenging, but that is challenging, demanding and cumbersome. You must put in the work if you want to be successful. Remember you’re no longer just working to pass a final exam, but your building your career, building your future. Make the right friends, be in contact with the people who can help you progress academically and professionally. It does cost a lot to be an international student, DON’T WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY. Work! Work! Work! Go the extra mile, trust me, the reward when you have put in the work is worth it.

Exauce

Aerospace Engineering

Queen's University Belfast


Remember

Study hard!

Recipe for sanity

  • Learn to take care of yourself. As a student and as a young adult- you will need to learn how to cook and actually eat regularly. There will be days when you have to muster up the courage to go to the doctor alone etc. Don’t be slow to loving on yourself in the simplest ways such as healthy eating habits, sleeping well and getting check ups if need be. You’re not going to be perfect, quite frankly university can be a mess but it’s in the everyday things
  • Reach out. When you get the chance to establish connections with people, go for it. Joining societies, going for seminars and talks, going out with flatmates etc really keeps you busy. They are all necessary distractions and I think they help add structure to your days outside of school. The more you’re surrounded by people the easier the transition into a new life becomes. However, this process is slow for most people so in your own time make the friends you’d like to keep around you.
  • Sometimes we hold onto the comfort of home so much that we try to find it overseas. Listen, that country folk society may remind you of home but understand that they’re not obligated to emulate what home felt like for you. It’s great to speak your mother tongue and make friends with your people. But just as you didn’t get along with everyone back home, you won’t always get along with everyone (from your country) abroad. And that’s okay. If you all get along and respect each other then that’s great too!

Anonymous

Business Analytics

University of Southampton



Since you've come this far...

  • There is no heaven on earth. Every place has its advantages and disadvantages. When you travel a bit and get exposed, you will see that no place is really better than another, no matter what the figures and reviews say.
  • In light of the first point, and also just as a default setting you should be on as you go through life, be quick to adapt. Find what is important and needed for you to survive and thrive and do it. Learn the language, understand the culture etc
  • Remind yourself why you are there everyday. Remind yourself of your purpose everyday. Meditate and think deeply daily. Because it is very easy to go astray. The world is set up for you to break out and be extraordinary, so don't float along like deadwood in the stream of life. Be intentional about being in that country, be intentional about your classes or whatever, be intentional about everyday, according to the plan that you drew out.
  • Bonus tip. Save and invest. This is not the time for lavish living, you don't have a stable source of income that you control, so be disciplined and shrewd.

Tinotenda

Mechanical Design, Automation and Manufacture

Sanming University(China)


Closing remarks

Hope you found at least one of the tips useful. Please leave your suggestions and comments in the comment section.

Special thanks to my special friends(Tino, Nasir, Ndibo, Kabelo, Misky, Doreen, Isra, Palesa, Exauce and others) who made this a success. Thank you guys for your input.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Tinotenda Manyumbu

Comments

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    • profile image

      Momz 

      2 months ago

      So so good my girl.

    • profile image

      Nasir 

      2 months ago

      Dope content. I love the idea, and thank youu ❤️❤️

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