More and more students are choosing to complete part of their coursework abroad. Discovering a new country, meeting new people, learning a language… But sometimes reality is more complicated to manage, especially when you find yourself thousands of kilometers away from your loved ones.
Most 90,500 French students go abroad every year🇧🇷 Among the most coveted destinations, often French-speaking and bordering countries, stand out: Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and Germany. Regardless of the country and the distance, leaving the country of origin to study is not trivial. Still very motivated to leave, seven out of ten students recognize that it is difficult to live in a foreign country according to the 2019 HSBC “Education Abroad” survey.
Expatriate: the dream!
Today, being part of the course abroad is almost nothing extraordinary. More and more courses are offering their students the opportunity to spend a semester or a year in another country. It works. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of French mobile students increased by 50%. In addition to being a real asset to your CV, studying abroad has both academic and personal benefits.
as explained Lolita, 20 years old, born in Lille and studying the third year of foreign languages and cultures in English in London : “This experience only brings me positive things, I feel like I’ve grown up and I have the impression of being a new person. I’m becoming more and more independent: now I do my shopping, do the laundry, prepare small elaborate dishes.
Adapting to your new country: it’s not an easy task…
Like Lolita, all expat students will tell you: moving abroad is a great experience, but there are also some difficulties that one is not always prepared for 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 that I had a little sadness, I felt far from my loved ones and a little alone.“, says the student. For some expatriates, this feeling goes even further: seven out of ten respondents recognize that living abroad is difficult. Among them, 92% feel homesickwhich has consequences on 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. “The courses are in English, so that’s fine, but once you’re outside the 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 the international career center at Expat Communication.
An adventure that can cost (a lot) 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 quickly add up, and again, students don’t necessarily expect it. For four out of five young people, the cost of education is a stressor. 23% of students had no idea of their fees before moving to their new country. “In Turkey, getting scholarships takes a long time, explains Beyza. Some friends are starting to have financial constraints.”
According to Lolita, the issue of budget is fundamental. The student advises to save money before leaving. The same goes for housing: you need to anticipate as much as possible. “I advise you to prepare well and find out about the place where you are going to live, whether it be in terms of the reputation of the neighborhood, the shops and transport in the vicinity… and above all, compare prices! I think that 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 Still a very good experience that I recommend to everyone.“, concludes Beyza.