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What Nobody Tells You About Studying Abroad

What Nobody Tells You About Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is a thrilling idea. When you started to tell people about your year abroad, everyone told you that you would have an amazing time. They were right, but they neglected to mention the less than amazing things that happen when you study abroad, too. If you can relate, check out 8 things that no-one told you about studying abroad.

1. The first night panic

The journey to your new home is exciting, and it is great meeting all of your new housemates for the first time. However, once you have unpacked, total panic sets in. You can’t stop thinking “Why did I do this again?”

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Home can feel very far away during the first few nights in an unfamiliar location. If you are feeling scared, consider going out to meet new people. It can feel very scary to start off with, but remind yourself that lots of other students are probably going through the same thing. If you want to meet other students, try visiting your University’s café or library.

2. Being bewildered by new currency

Who knew foreign currency could be so confusing? It took you weeks to get the grip with the exchange rate – you regularly held up long queues while you figured out the currency in your hand. If you are still struggling with the currency, there are lots of apps available that help to make currency conversion more understandable. This will help you to figure out prices no matter where you are.

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3. The difficulties of the language barrier

You thought you were pretty clued-up on the language you would be using, but you regularly find yourself in scenarios where there is a miscommunication. On particularly tough days it can feel like no-one understands you, even though you know they aren’t used to your accent.

If you are frustrated by the language barrier, remember that every miscommunication teaches you something new; after a few months you will feel like a natural. If you want to learn quicker, consider taking a night class or asking your housemates to help you learn colloquial phrases.

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4. Missing the strangest things

You expected to miss your friends and family, but not your make-up remover. Lots of products are not sold abroad, which can leave you missing your favorite snacks or brands. Your new friends showed you alternatives, but they just don’t compare to the brands that you know and love.

Next time you go home, stock up on all of your favorite products that you can’t buy abroad. You can also bulk order products online – no-one should have to go without their essentials!

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5. Random feelings of homesickness

You are now fully settled into your new life; you have started your classes, befriended the people you live with and you even own a blender. Despite this, every so often you find yourself feeling incredibly lonely.

Don’t worry if you feel this way. It can take a long time to fully settle into your new life. Try talking to another international student about your feelings, as it is very likely that they will know what you are going through.

6. Repeatedly answering the same questions

Every time you meet new people, you go through the same motions. Everyone asks the same questions about where you come from, and often they will throw in a few incorrect myths too.

If this is starting to bother you, realize that there are advantages to the conversation. People are genuinely interested in the subject, and you will feel more confident because you know what you are talking about. Take the chance to tell strangers about all of the little-known, awesome things about your country!

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Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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