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Fixing a Challenging Study Abroad Experience

Venturing into a new country can be intimidating under any circumstances. When you’re planning an extended stay, whether to study or to complete an internship, that can make the experience even more daunting. And while international work and study trips can be highly rewarding, they can also bring some hardships.

Students who travel through ALZEA INDIA enjoy life-changing opportunities; they get chances to hone their skills, make new connections, and broaden their horizons. And yet, we also understand that students may face some challenges, whether cultural isolation, loneliness, or simply a feeling of homesickness.

The question is, what can you do when times get tough? How can you get a difficult internship or study abroad experience back on track?

Here are a few suggestions from the ALZEA INDIA team.

How to Handle a Tough Study Abroad Experience

1) Reassess your goals.

One of the first things you should do when met with hardship is to pause and reflect on why you wanted to study abroad, or have an international internship, in the first place. What are the personal and professional goals you’re trying to accomplish? And what’s preventing you from achieving those goals? Meditating on these questions can help you gain a fresh sense of perspective, and potentially develop a game plan for setting your international experience to right.

2) Take a chance on something new.

Maybe part of the reason your internship is hard is because you feel stuck in the same area with the same group of friends. A change of scenery (and a change of company) may do you some good. Use the next free time you have to explore a part of town you haven’t been before. Refresh your sense of adventure.

3) Seek new friends.

Connecting with locals isn’t necessarily easy, but it can be a meaningful way to combat loneliness or homesickness. Stay alert for chances to say hi and forge connections, whether at a cafe, a coffee shop, or the local library.

4) Practice self-care.

The difficulties of your study abroad experience will be compounded if you’re not in top physical and mental health. Take an inventory: Are you eating balanced meals each day? Are you getting enough sleep at night? Are you finding some opportunities for exercise? Are you allowing yourself some down time to alleviate anxiety and stress? These can all be important steps toward refreshing your perspective and bolstering you against adversity.

5) Step away from your screens.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing along a phone, laptop, and/or tablet to help you stay in touch with your family and friends back home. However, we see a lot of students who are so absorbed by their screens that they don’t really engage with local culture. That makes it so much more challenging to have a pleasant, meaningful study abroad experience. Consider placing some hard limits on the time you spend with your devices.

6) Be ready to handle situations independently.

Finally, we’d simply note that unforeseen circumstances can arise on any trip abroad, and students must be prepared to deal with these “curve balls” courageously. For example, you never know when you’ll have to handle one of these issues independently:

  • Lost passport
  • Sickness
  • Theft
  • A chef/boss criticizing you
  • Co-workers treating you badly

Know that anything can happen as part of your internship experience, and part of your job is being ready to fight through these challenging times.

Hang in There

Even really great life experiences can bring some challenges; indeed, the challenges are often what help us to grow. What we encourage, more than anything, is hanging in there. According to the great inventor Thomas Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Take these words to heart whenever your international experience becomes arduous.

With any questions, or if we can help you in any way, please reach out to ALZEA INDIA directly.