Unexpected Challenges of Studying Abroad

By Jordyn Austin on March 21, 2017
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As a college student, there are times you may be presented with the opportunity to study abroad. It is always said that studying abroad is something students should experience if they ever can. If you ever study abroad, you’d want to be prepared for the trip. This may include anything from currency conversion to luggage weight limits. Naturally, one cannot be prepared for everything, so here are some unexpected challenges of studying abroad.

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Passports

If you are traveling outside of the country, you will need a passport. Sometimes passports can take quite a bit to be ordered and mailed to you. Even though you applied for a passport early, there could be the unexpected challenge of it not being mailed to you on time. No one expects delays, but they do happen.

Currency

There is a possibility you could experience issues with exchanging currency, especially if you decide to do it at airport stations. This can cause a problem for the remainder of your study abroad trip, because you may not have the proper currency to buy things in a certain country.

Another unexpected challenge of studying abroad is not bringing enough money. Sometimes items are more expensive than we anticipate. Other times, we may want to purchase more or participate in more activities that we were unaware of beforehand. Not having enough money can put a damper on the trip, if you want to do everything that your travel partners are doing.

Luggage policies

Another unexpected challenge is luggage policies for flights. You have to check the airport and see what specifics they say you can and can’t bring on the plane. There are also specifications for liquids that are permissible. If you don’t read carefully or read the wrong lists, there is a possibility that you can be detained and not let on the plane because you didn’t follow the policies.

In the same way, you could be hit unexpectedly with charges because your luggage is over the weight limit or even forced to leave a bag behind. If you weighed your luggage, but used a faulty scale, or assumed you were not over the limit, this could happen to you.

Travel delays

Traffic delays can certainly be an unexpected challenge of studying abroad. Whether the delay is while you are trying to get to the airport or if the flight is delayed, it can be a challenge. It is always best to get to your destination very early, but as a traveler, you cannot predict everything that will happen.

Injury

There is also the challenge of unexpectedly getting hurt in a foreign country. Unless your trip secured international health insurance, this can be very expensive. No one really expects to get hurt on a trip, but it can happen anywhere at any time.

Pick-pocketers

Another unexpected challenge of studying abroad is the possibility of being pick-pocketed in another country. This can be an unexpected challenge because it can really set you back depending on what the person got away with. Sometimes pick-pocketers steal a lot of money from you.

Communication factors

When you study abroad, there could be the unexpected challenge of a larger language barrier than you anticipated. Some people just study a few words before they leave and others expect that there will be an interpreter. However, this is not the case all the time. It is said that one of the best ways to learn a new language is through immersion, but this can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to communicate something very important and can’t properly get your point across.

Another language challenge you may face is accidentally saying or gesturing something offensive. You could unknowingly offend someone by the way you move your hand. In some countries, it is offensive to tip at a restaurant. Some hand gestures that are accepted in the United States can be very crass in other places of the world. It is best that you read up on some of these customs before you study abroad, but it is a possibility that you won’t learn or remember everything.

Clothing

Oftentimes, students who study abroad are given little information on what is proper apparel or attire in another country. However, again, you cannot predict everything. In this case, you could be in a situation where what you are wearing is considered offensive in a country. This can be a challenge because you could end up being embarrassed or feeling bad about what you have on.

In addition to proper attire, you can check and recheck the weather all you want. There is always a chance the weather can change in an instant because it is so unpredictable. In this case, you could run into the issue of being too hot or too cold, or of not wearing the proper shoes in inclement weather.

In spite of the challenges you may face, do not let this deter you from studying abroad. All you can do is try to be prepared the best way you can. If any of these do happen to you, remember to stay positive and try to continue to enjoy your study abroad trip.

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Senior at Kent State University, planning to go to graduate school for Journalism. Aspiring traveling journalist. I'm super excited to be a writer for Uloop News to continue to build my writing portfolio! I hope to encourage college students around the world!

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