Many students nowadays find themselves studying abroad for university for this reason or that, and being an international student has its advantages and challenges. As an international student myself, here are some ways I have survived being an international student at UofT so far!
1. Have a positive perception and outlook.
Perceive this as your next great adventure. Super cliché, but I believe that life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. Being in a new place can be understandably overwhelming and daunting, but it is such an adventure, and it takes you one step closer to being a world traveller and a global citizen. Embrace it!
2. Take your time adapting to the culture shock.
Although the extent to which people suffer from culture shock differs from person to person, just keep in mind that you are entering a new community and that nothing compares to actually living there. Learn the customs and traditions of the place you are living in and be mindful of cultural differences.
3. Don’t forget to immerse yourself and embrace the experience.
Your first priority is studying and obtaining a degree, but don’t forget to enjoy your time and meet new people. This includes befriending people outside of your diaspora/international students. Befriending domestic students is not only part of building a global worldview; it’s helpful to know people who know the place. Take every single chance to explore, from landmarks to hidden gems to things you usually wouldn’t do.
4. Be patient and honest with yourself.
Don’t be in a rush to move on. Deal with what you’re feeling instead of repressing it, and keep in mind that this is a big change and it will take time until you are accustomed to it, and finding your niche in a new place can be difficult.
5. Find your comfort zone.
Find the others – it’s comforting being around people who understand the excitement and struggle that comes with being an international student in a (presumably) new place. Most universities have centers for international students or the like, and getting involved with them is a great way to meet people who share a similar experience.
6. Make time for your family and friends back home.
I am of the belief that moving on from a place doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of the healthy and mutually beneficial relationships you made there. It can get frustrating with different time zones and schedules, but setting up Skype dates or dropping in with a simple text can do wonders for you and the relationship.
7. Find places or things that remind you of home.
The strangest things remind us of the comfort of being back home – whether it’s a coffee shop or nice spot outdoors or artwork or home decoration from where you are from. Try to build a home away from home at UofT – you’ll be here for at least a couple of years.
8. There will be issues and obstacles.
Don’t get too frustrated when domestic students complain about being too far from home. I know, they’re only like 30 minutes…or maybe 2 hours… away from home, and you’re probably a plane ride and a few layovers away, but understand that being a domestic student has its challenges too!
9. Get ready to do a lot of explaining.
Understand that many people may not have interacted closely with someone from your culture before. Be patient and informative, but don’t let people get away with bigotry, racism, or prejudice.
10. Be informed on immigration and visa requirements.
Keep in mind what the conditions of your study visa are, how long you can stay in the country post-graduation, and the like. Paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy can be frustrating, but this information is key.
What are your tips for international students at UofT? Feel free to comment below and share the article!
*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.