Crossing Borders: Lessons Learnt From Studying Abroad

The more practical advice for easing the transition.

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We return to our network for more practical advice and suggestions on how to make studying abroad easier.

From film clubs to ultimate frisbee teams, going abroad offers young people the opportunity to pick up new activities they never considered before.

For anyone out there planning on going abroad, or those who are currently and may be struggling to adjust: you’re not alone!

Here’s how our contacts coped with the change in environment, culture, and people!


Raluca moved from Romania to study at Oxford, then NYU, and is now a trainee in Luxembourg.

Also studying in the UK was Aggelina from Greece, who attended UCL and Manchester.

Jon moved from Turkey to study at McGill in Canada.

He was joined by Prune from Spain, Sonja from Sweden, and Aubrey and Jeanne both from France.

Did you guys pick up any new hobbies to try ease the transition of moving abroad?

(Jon) “Yes! I had no real interest in film prior to university but I randomly joined the film club and spent a considerable amount of time at their events. Even getting jobs related to film in the summer. It would have been very unexpected for my high school self haha!”

(Sonja) ““My best friend at uni forced me to join the ultimate frisbee intramural team in our first semester. I was really bad at it, but rejoined the team every semester because it was so fun.”

(Prune) “I was a bit shy and did not used to enjoy going out with friends. I would not say it is a hobby but living abroad has helped me open up. An actual new hobby of mine has definitely been taking walks in nature like up the Mont-Royal in Montreal. It helps to take breaks from university pressure.”

(Raluca) “I can’t say drinking, can I?”


Haha! I think you may speak for most students with that one.

(Raluca) “Well in all seriousness, I did pick up new things like music and new cuisine recipes… Surprisingly, I adore British cuisine right now and I’m finding myself going to British restaurants which I never would have thought to visit before. Even in New York, the music scene was so good I picked up a lot there.”


Did the environment change the hobbies then?

(Raluca) “I would say so. But I think hobbies change with the people you meet. I am a very social person so the more people you meet with different backgrounds the more you pick up.

In New York I also got really into art because I met all these people who were into modern art and photography, and they took me to the right places. I’m exploring this much more in Luxembourg now which is great!”

(Aubrey) “I agree, people definitely change the environment as much as changing places in the first place. In Canada, there were so many more queer organizations, no matter how small, and it was really the people who got me involved so much more in events in that community!”


So what advice would you give to students thinking of doing a similar journey?

(Jon) “Don’t ever be afraid to try out new things.”

(Prune) “Definitely just go for it. The benefits you get from the experience are priceless!”

(Aggelina) “Choose a course that actually interests you and choose a city that you would be interested in living in and exploring. Studying abroad on your own is hard at first and you need to at least be able to enjoy your academic life and be able to build a social life too.”

(Raluca) “It’s something you need to really think about properly as it can be the best of times – for a lot of people it is – but it can be quite bad if you don’t feel ready or if you’re not in a good place mentally.

It can be draining in the beginning as there’s so much organising to do but going out of your comfort zone can be so worthwhile. You might not have the time of your life, but you will learn so much that it pays out in the end.”


Is there an ideal age to study abroad?

(Sonja) “Well I’ve studied abroad at the age of 17 and at the age of 20-23. I don’t think there’s an ideal age for it at all but I would say that if you’re gonna do it alone it’s probably best to wait until you’re at least 16, because it can get rough. My only advice is to do it as many times as you can, and don’t be scared by the rough parts – it gets better.”

(Jeanne) “There is not an ideal age! I actually think people should do it as soon as possible to find out what they actually want to do. Hopefully it can give you a boost in the right direction.”

(Raluca) “I left when I was 18 which was quite young, but where I’m from a lot of people go abroad at that age. I don’t think there’s an ideal age – I think it depends on so many different things like your personality and where you’re going. When you’re a bit older you’ll have more life experience, so you have a better perspective on things. It will be easier to take a bit step at 23 than 18 but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it at 18. I don’t regret it one bit!”

(Aggelina) “Definitely, I think the younger the better and soon after finishing school too. That’s mainly because still at an early age when studying is still part of their lives.”

We hope this conversation helped with the anxiety of going to study abroad and offered some potential ideas to ease the process. For the first part on the topic, where we explored the benefits and challenges of going in the first place, please click here.

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