More and more students are choosing to complete part of their course abroad. Discovering a new country, meeting new people, learning a language… But sometimes, reality is more complicated to manage, especially when you are thousands of kilometers away from your loved ones.
Most 90,500 French students go abroad each year🇧🇷 Among the most coveted destinations, often francophone and border countries, namely: Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and Germany. Whatever the country and the distance, leaving your home country to study is not trivial. But very motivated to leave, seven out of ten students recognize that living in a foreign country is difficult according to the 2019 HSBC “Education Abroad” survey.
Expatriate: the dream!
Today, being part of your course abroad is almost nothing extraordinary. More and more courses offer their students the opportunity to spend a semester or a year in another country. It works. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of mobile French students increased by 50%. In addition to being a real asset to your resume, studying abroad is beneficial both academically and personally.
as explained Lolita, 20, from Lille and doing her third year of foreign languages and cultures in English in London : “This experience brings me only positive things, I feel grown up and I have the impression of being a new person. I become more and more independent: now I do my shopping, my clothes, I prepare elaborate dishes.
Adapting to your new country: no easy task…
Just like Lolita, all expat students will tell you: moving abroad is a great experience, but there are also some difficulties for which one is not always prepared before leaving. Starting with integration in the host country. “I had never lived outside the family home, and in the early days, I must admit I had a little sadness, I felt far from my loved ones and a little lonely.“, says the student. For some expatriates, this feeling goes much further: seven out of ten respondents recognize that living abroad is difficult. 92% feel homesickwhich has consequences for their social life and academic performance.
For Beyza, 22, a final year mechanical engineering student at Troyes University of Technology, who is currently in Istanbul, Turkey, the biggest difficulty is the language barrier. “Courses are in English, so that’s fine, but once you find yourself out of university, it’s more complicated, especially when it comes to administrative services…”
According to the survey, integrating into the host country is not easy: 66% of respondents believe that adapting to a new culture takes a lot of effort and 37% mention the language barrier as the main difficulty. “It is often a shock to be confronted with these cultural particularities. We don’t say enough, but sometimes English isn’t enough either,” says Alix Carnot, director of Expat Communication’s international career center.
An adventure that can be (very) expensive!
Another difficulty that students often face is expenses. Between the cost of travel, tuition, accommodation and the cost of daily living, the bill can skyrocket and again, students don’t necessarily expect this. For four out of five young people, the cost of their education is a stressor. 23% of students had no idea of their fees before moving to their new country. “In Turkey, it takes time to get scholarships, explains Beyza. Some friends start to have financial constraints.”
According to Lolita, the budget issue is fundamental. The student advises to save before leaving. Ditto for housing: you have to anticipate as much as possible. “I advise you to prepare well and get to know the place where you are going to live, whether in terms of the reputation of the neighbourhood, the shops and transport in the surroundings… and above all, comparing prices! I think shared accommodation is still the best way to limit costs because in London, for example, student residences are quite expensive.🇧🇷
As you may have already understood, you must remain vigilant so that your stay abroad does not turn into a nightmare. “The bonds are very strong between foreign students because we go through the same difficulties, but It’s still a very good experience that I recommend to everyone.“, concludes Beyza.