Studying Abroad: Expectations vs Reality

Going to a different country for university is ‘the dream’ for almost every student. It is one of the most important decisions in life and kinda one of the bravest as well. Once things have cemented and you get to know for sure, like a 100% sure, that you are going for real real, then let’s just say your imagination kicks into an overactive drive. It is a wowza emotional rollercoaster- a big bundle of nerves rolled into copious amounts of fear, mixed with a buttload of excitement and…ohhh..the endless expectations..of course.

Not to burst the bubble, but reality, as it often is, is quite different and loves to play whack-a-mole with expectations. To save you the broken-heartedness of a reality check at a later moment, most probably when you’re actually experiencing it, we’ve listed below a few major oopsie expectations vs the cold hard reality. 

Expectation #1: I’m going to be sightseeing every day, travelling to a new country every weekend, and living my best life!


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Reality: There is no doubt that life will be amazing and things will be quite different from the norm. You’ll have endless opportunities to see awesome sights, meet new people, eat drool-worthy food and party like crazy. But, again not trying to be a sour puss, not every day will be like a clip taken out of a Hollywood movie. The truth is that you’re a student. You’re going to have a LOT of coursework and studying to do. There’ll be days where you’ll be attending classes all day long and will be too tired to do anything. Also, sometimes you’ll be too broke to live your travelling adventure fantasies..cuz again, you’re a student..duh!

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Expectation #2: All that walking around the city will make me lose weight!

Reality: This one is just no, like NOOO! This is one of the biggest misconceptions. The whole being in a new country with new food, new snacks and new desserts tends to come in the way of any physical exertion you’ll be doing. Also, uni students go out a LOT and eat junk most of the time…so yeah..You are more likely to put on weight than lose it, at least in the first few months. Maybe, after the ‘newness’ excitement fades, the expectation will end up true…but don’t hold your breath! And, try to eat healthy, your body will thank you!


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Expectation #3: I’m gonna have a lot of international friends.


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Reality: New place, new people, away from everything and everyone you know, also has some downsides. Culture shock, homesickness, social anxiety, general intimidation of your new environment, take your pick. Bottom line- You’ll look for comfort, common ground and similarities, which means you’re more likely to end up with friends from your home country or of a similar cultural background. You’ll eventually settle down and make a ton of those international friends, so don’t stress too much.

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Expectation #4: I’m def going to fail a semester, or I won’t have too many classesdepending on what kinda student you are.


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Reality: The thing is- every country and every university has a different educational structure, some are more similar than others, but it’s not the exact same. The reality is that most professors understand the plight of international students and cut some slack here and there, but just like any other thing in life, you will have to work hard to do well. It won’t be an easy breeze, but it also is not impossible. Just don’t let your assignments pile up, maintain a regular study time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. 


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Overall, you will still love the experience of studying abroad, perhaps not every single moment but a big chunk of it. After all, it is a once in a lifetime experience!

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