Why studying abroad wasn't for me
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Studying abroad in a foreign country is, naturally, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers an endless stream of benefits. Those willing to take the plunge will be rewarded with a greater sense of independence, huge amounts of self-confidence, and an enviable sense of cultural awareness. However, studying abroad also requires the right type of person. Here’s why studying abroad, as an exchange student at the University of New Hampshire, wasn’t quite for me... Before heading out to spend a year in the USA, my university offered several workshops where those students planning to study abroad had the opportunity to discuss worries and potential problems. Speakers were invited on to the campus, and they spoke at length about the reality of culture shock; a personal disorientation one may feel when experiencing a new way of life. Naturally, we’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives – probably most prominently when we made the transition to university – but it’s a much more fierce sensation when moving abroad. Being the guy that I am, I never thought for one minute that I’d be the person who experienced culture shock. We’ve been to the United States dozens of times, and I assumed these visits would put me in relatively good stead, ready to take on the life of an American student. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case - I was four-thousand miles away from home, and struck by culture shock; I felt ill each and every day. Most people generally get over culture shock within a short period of time, but I found myself bombarded with more issues. My course was much more advanced than what my advisor and I were expecting; it was a class aimed at senior years – the people who had been studying that topic, in depth, for four years. I was impressed with how knowledgeable those individuals in my class were, and unfortunately my introductory course in the UK didn’t cover it in enough detail. This meant that I’d be sitting the very same exam as someone much more advanced than me – it didn’t add up. I discussed changing courses with my academic advisor, but unfortunately the only solution would be to enrol on an “introductory” class (which would be similar to my first-year class in the UK). The other courses that appealed to me were only available in the second semester, so I’d essentially have to stick with my original course choices until then. I just couldn’t last the whole year, and returning home was the only option.
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