The day is finally come. After months and months of planning and years and years of dreaming have passed, you are ready, waved (perhaps in tears) good-byes to Mom and Dad at customs, passport confidently in hand, 2 months of supplies of instant noodle and chilli sauce sachets packed. It’s the first day of your semester abroad, and even though you’ve already come to terms with being independent, there may remain a few daunting thoughts and butterflies in your stomach. Here are 10 Tips Surviving Your First Days Study Abroad
1. Find Your Study Abroad Rep at the Airport
A more reassuring effort is to start with enough guidance. Get help from your Education Consultant who can assist you as new student with pre-arranged airport pick-up. Be sure to have a clear picture on what to look for once you have landed. You will find yourself at ease and ready to embrace the new experience.
2. Exchange Some Cash Money
Hopefully you have landed in your new accommodation with the right foreign cash. If not, you may want to exchange a small portion of it, not much, just enough for your first 24hours necessity as you may have understood that exchange bureaus in airports charge notoriously high commission. Or have you prepared that cash? A week’s worth of money will certainly give you ample time to settle in and find the nearest ATM.
3. Give Mom and Dad a Call
Remember to turn on your mobile device and notify them via Whassap chat or Skype, or give them a quick call to let them know that you have made it in one piece and safely. That quick text/hello will make a world of difference for them and a relief for you to let people at home stop worrying about you.
4. Click, Text & Share
That first feeling immerse during your first week would be a funny memory down the lane. Why not capture that emotion and you will actually lose the sense of unease, once you shared that photo and text in your diary, blog or Instagram, whichever will help you channel out that anxiety and joy.
5. Unpack and Get Settled In
Congratulations! You’ve made it this far. It’s now time to transform your living space as your home sweet home. Don’t be surprised if you need to head to the store to pick up few items you kind of forgot to bring with (hangers, comfortable house slippers?). Once everything is nice and organized, you’ll kick those feelings of homesickness away, and step outside with more confident than ever.
6. Leave Your Bedroom Door Wiiide Open
Yes, you are in a new country with places you have not yet seen, foods you have never tasted, and people who are strangers to you. Instead of curling up into a brooding ball of solitude and texting your friends about how much you miss them, now’s the time to let your inner extrovert shine! Venture out into the hallways and strike up conversations with other students or visit the nearest fresh food market and gradually, if you make friends along the way, be sure to organize some meeting times/places to hang later.
7. Securing First Point of Contact
Be it the university’s marketing officer, or your family’s friend; you can always value the littlest insight in your attempt to adapt with the local culture. Check out the upcoming activities in the next few days, so you can start a mental list of things you need to do in your first weeks. They may have tips on where to find the nice, yet affordable Indonesian restaurant, etc. You’ll never know if you never ask!
8. Explore Your Campus
Be lost in your campus during your first day of study is not something you would want to experience. Why not take a tour around your campus before the start of the semester. The best way to get familiar with the surroundings is to explore by foot. Seek out the most important buildings on campus, the public transport options to and from campus or where your classes will be conducted. Explore by yourself (if you are that adventurous type), but notify a friend or resident director that you will be doing so, or find a mentor program from the university’s marketing officer (check out tip #7 to avoid solo trip).
9. Sort Out the Nitty Gritty
Opening a local bank account, reporting at the embassy, buying cooking utensils, getting the bus card, looking for second hand reference books for half price of the new one, signing up for classes, the list may go on and on. But if you start taking care of that little by little, all this up front work will ensure smooth sailing for the coming months. Many of these activities may be pre-planned in the welcome orientation from your campus; however, knowing these things ahead can actually help you save some cost and time.
10. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Usually settling down with the campus life takes longer than the length it takes to settle in your daily life living on your own. Don’t feel down if your first day doesn’t go as you expect. Keep reminding yourself: it’s only the beginning! You may stumbled on some culture and language difference, but have confidence in yourself that your good intention will not go astray and you’ll soon be in the community that you are mostly comfortable.