So you’ve just arrived in your study abroad destination. You’ve left your friends and family behind, you have no idea what to expect and you’re rapidly discovering your language skills are not going to cut it in the world of immigration paperwork and housing contracts. How do you settle in to your new life?
I’ve been on my year abroad in Japan for two months now, so here are my top tips for feeling at home in a new place!
You’re bound to go sightseeing, but don’t underestimate the importance of exploring your immediate neighbourhood, even if you’re living in the middle of nowhere like I am. Knowing that shortcut to the supermarket or finding a favourite café off the beaten track will make you feel less like a tourist and more at home.
Evening card games, dinosaur origami, family dinners and having my Japanese corrected by a seven year old; my time with my host family has been a great way to experience a slower pace of life, practice my language skills and get to know places around the local area. Staying with a host family isn’t for everyone but it is certainly an experience I would recommend.
When you don’t speak the language, this can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, it’s probably the best way to interact with local students so try to persevere and sooner or later you’ll get to know people. Local friends will introduce you to the best places for students and make you feel part of the university community.
Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to experience life in another culture, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore home comforts. Balance new experiences and exploring with whatever makes you feel at home! Heinz Baked Beans and Cadbury’s will always beat sushi and mochi for me, and there’s nothing wrong with that.