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How to Adapt to a Foreign Country: Advice for International Students

How to Adapt to a Foreign Country

Studying abroad delivers new opportunities and amazing experience in unusual environment far away from the family and friends. Adaptation to a new country takes some time. Following are some recommendations to facilitate the process.

Cheer Up

You might feel nostalgic for home at first. It is a normal reaction to new living conditions (climate, food, language), so keep your spirits up. A majority of students who chose to study abroad experienced the moment when they felt frustrated or wanted to give up everything and get back home. You just have to get over it and busy yourself with some activities to let this feeling pass. It is very important not to be shy when asking for help or making new acquaintances. Remember that any difficulties are temporary.

Socialise More


Of course, people differ in their need for contacts with others, but even if you are an introvert, try not to withdraw into yourself too much. Universities often arrange meeting parties for new arrivals to get acquainted with each other. International students can join university clubs for socialising, discussions, and cross cultural exchange. As a rule, universities have communities of fellow countrymen, but don’t hang on them all the time, try and make friends with people from other countries: it is one of the bonuses of studying in international environment. Many international students say that they have made friends with Russians; this helped them to better learn local traditions and rules of conduct, develop a liking for Russian cuisine and even learn to cook some Russian dishes.

Ask Volunteers for Help


Most universities have volunteer organisations and Cultural and Social Adaptation Departments. They provide all kinds of support to newcomers, meeting them at the airport or railway station, showing around the campus and the city and helping move in a dormitory, make themselves at home and settle everyday problems. During their adaptation, new arrivals get tips on student life, currency exchange, food stores, cafés, getting to the campus etc. Volunteers support students in the course of their studies and are always ready to answer questions, give advice or lend a hand.

Study the Host Country Language and Culture


Foreign nationals often admit that lack of proficiency in Russian is one of the key problems they face in the country. They cannot express themselves and are sometimes misunderstood. They mostly experienced that problem in small towns; in large cities, many residents, especially youths, can speak English. In any case, basic Russian will be useful even if you have come to study on an English medium programme. It is best to learn some key phrases in advance to make things easier. Russian language courses are available to international students at the university; some universities run special adaptation courses that cover Russian culture and mentality and teach to say simple phrases in Russian for everyday communication. It is important not to feel shy and practice more. Of course, you’ll make mistakes, but that’s perfectly normal, nobody will criticise you, on the contrary your attempt to learn the language will surely be appreciated.

Attend Interesting Events


Learn more about the host city and see its places of interest. Go on excursions; visit museums in your spare time. As a rule, any city holds many free public events. Information on these events can be found on the Internet. You can travel in your free time on weekends and holidays. Russia has an abundance of beautiful places which you have to visit by all means. Invite your course mates to travel with you - travelling together is cheaper and more fun.

Join Hobby Groups or Societies


Student life is quite eventful; you will never feel bored. You can pursue various hobbies, from films or foreign languages to chess playing and hiking. There are student theatres as well as art, dancing and music groups. Of course, universities have sport facilities such as fitness rooms, stadiums, swimming pools; a majority have their own football and volleyball teams. Festivals, holiday shows national culture days are held all year round; international students can participate in them as organisers or artists.

Keep in Touch with Your Family


Communication with your relatives supports you giving you comfort. Call your family or friends now and then; it is particularly important for newcomers until they make some new acquaintances. Russia has inexpensive and fast Internet, so communication is not a problem. Free wi-fi is usually available at academic buildings while dormitories have dedicated lines. Allot some time for contacts with your family but don’t focus on it; try to make the most of the new environment and opportunities provided by studying abroad.