So, you’ve gotten into your dream college, you’ve packed, unpacked and then re-packed your bags, and you are raring to leave your home and your country behind and go overseas. Adventure beckons! The pull of your passion is strong, you can feel your calling, it vibrates in these very bones of yours, and you cannot resist anymore. Gandalf has come for you, Bilbo Baggins, and it is time to go on an adventure!
But wait, unlike Bilbo, you don’t have a group of dwarves and a supremely powerful wizard to help you out with advice for this massive undertaking?
What do you do?
Well, worry not, here are some tips for the uninitiated that I’ve picked up from many a wandering wizard and roaming minstrel.
Make Friends (From all around)
Once you are in an unfamiliar land, you may feel homesickness creeping upon you and gravitate towards people from the same country as you. The bonds are easier to form, you know where and what each of you comes from, and it is a good way to combat homesickness and keep that bit of India alive with you there. However, only fraternizing with people from your homeland to the exclusion of all else is a major no-no. Making international friends and forging strong ties of friendship with them is a must, after all, that is one of the most crucial elements of an international education. Not only will you be making a great and varied set of friends, but they will also be part of a strong network which will be of great help for you to get a job or to work in that country. And even if you move away, they will always give you a reason to come back and visit.
Engage in Interesting Activities and Groups
A real problem when you are alone in an unfamiliar place, especially if you are an introvert and don’t make friends easily, is ending up lonely. It is the swiftest way to despair and depression. Stay away from it, do not give in, and take important steps to remedy the problem if you ever feel alone. One great way to do this is to indulge in group activities, involve yourself in some sport. Take part in a book club, go running and make friends in the park or the gym, participate in forums and discussions on topics which you are passionate about, there you’ll meet like-minded individuals. It is also a great way to network and improve your connections!
Don’t be Afraid
Do not be afraid of taking the opportunities which come your way. If you face a problem, convert it into an opportunity and solve it. Look at things positively and don’t fear participating in new and unknown activities (not of the illicit kind, mind you!)
Of course, you should also be cautious and not plunge into things without thinking. Remember to look at things from every angle before deciding whether it is worthwhile and safe. If it is, then don’t hesitate to go for it!
Work while you Study
Spending in international currency while coming from an Indian background is not easy, what with the high tuitions and cost of living. Make sure to work while you study so that you can have some residual income to take care of your needs and then some. Teaching and research assistantships are a great way to not only get some income, but also to get good experience and have a stronger resume.
You should also look at internships while you study, this will not only provide you with good experience, but if you do well, it may automatically result in a job offer for you!
Explore and Experience
Hey, you are in an entirely new country – perhaps even in an entirely new continent. Go out and explore. Experience the rugged natural beauty of the place as well as the sprawling city and its many nooks and crannies. Feel the beating heart of the city, get in touch with the vibe of the country, become one with it, and experience the best that the place has to offer. Indulge yourself and tick off those places on your wanderlust list that you’ve always wanted to visit. After all, there’s no experience like the experience that life and travelling provides you.
Go on then, follow your dreams and fulfill your dreams. Shoot for those twinkling stars and experience the wondrous majesty of the universe.