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Home > Going from HK > For Students Life is short; let's living / study abroad!

Tips for you to make the most of your overseas experience; and to overcome challenge and hardship (You may also want to refer to similar tips for people coming to HK)

First of all, you should tell yourself you have made the biggest step by stepping out of your comfort zone and decided to move to a different country where everything IS different from the world you know. So no matter what kind of challenge and hardship you will be facing in the next few months or years; you will be able to overcome it! Don't let the small drawback or tiny obstacle to stop you and affect you. Even the track for sportscars or racing horses is not 100% even. The path leading us to our success is full of surprises and that is why life is exciting. Be prepared for it and also be confident that you can do it; you will arrive to the finish point one day.


What can I do if I cannot go live / study abroad at the moment?

Nevertheless, to some of you the challenge may not be coming from yourself. There may be some circumstantial reason which prevents you from pursuing your dream at the moment. For example, you have financial difficulty; or there is some sudden, big change in your life. Does it mean the end of your dream to become a global-minded person; and embrace the many colorful, versatile cultures of our world?

Success is for those who never give up. There are still a lot of things you can do to master inter-cultural awareness. And most importantly, you can also influence other people as well as your home school by doing so.

Find out more about things you can do while you are waiting for the next opportunity.

And one more time before you give up the opportunity. If it is a financial issue, have you talked to the school about it yet? They may have special loan or grant for students who are eager to study abroad.

Now, let's do some assignment. Take out a paper (or open a writing program) and answer all the questions I have for you below. You may want to write it down because it will be very useful and meaningful for you to refer to them later; not only during your life abroad, but also when you retire and after.


Why do you want to live / study abroad?

Yes, what makes you to make such a big move?
Are there any people involving in your decision making process?
Why are you going to that country?
Why do you think that country can realize your goals?
Why are these goals important to you?
What do you think a successful living / studying abroad experience is?
What are the difficulties you are expecting (please don't tell me you are not expecting any)? How are you going to solve them?
What are the things that you think you will be excited about?
Have you been to overseas before? Did you enjoy it, or how did you overcome your problem there?
Have you live with a roommate before? Moreover, were you guys staying in a small place?
How do you deal with people misunderstand about you?
How do you deal with people who are different from you?

Understanding about Yourself

What is 'your nationality' (American, Japanese, German...) ?
What do you think people in that country think of people of your nationality and your country?
And who are you? How would you describe it? Are you comfortable to describe it to people you meet the first time?
Are you comfortable to talk about your religion, education, political view, society?
What is the popular culture there? Sports, music, movies, etc.. what people do in their leisure time?

Understanding about the Destination

What is the political system of that country?
What about the economy, education, history, geography, food, life, religion, sports...there?
Do you know the native language? Are you going to learn a few words before you go?

While You are Abroad

What are the things that you like about that country?
What are the things you don't like?
Are these things you have expected during the planning stage?
How do you feel as a foreigner here?
Do you think the locals treat you like a foreigner? Why is that?
And what do you mean the locals treat you like a foreigner? What have they do?
Do you think locals understand your culture correctly?
What are the similarity and difference they have on your culture as referred to the things you wrote down during the planning stage?
Why do think there are differences? Do you think you or your country can or should change them? How?
Or honestly, do you hang out with locals at all? If not, why?
What do you think are the differences between local culture and your culture?
Have your living style been changed and how?
Do you like any of these changes? Why and why not?
Do you think you are having a better life here than at home?
Do you miss home and what do you miss about?
Do you consider you have immersed with the local culture? Or you still feel dis-connected?
What does your daily life look like now? Is that what you were thinking of during the planning stage?
Are you still keeping up with things happening at home?
Are you achieving any of your goals? If not, what you can do to help with the situation?
If you are going home soon, how would you tell your friends in that country and what would you do with them before you leave?

Going back Home

What are the goals you have achieved?
Why are there goals that you could not achieve? Is it because they were made on your misunderstanding of that country during the planning stage; or you have not tried hard enough?
Have you achieved anything that you did not plan for?
Would you have a different plan if you could start it all over again?
Have the lives of your family or friends changed much after you come home?
What do they think about your experience overseas and the new you?
Do you consider you have become a new you?
How does it feel being home again? Are you excited that you can go to your famous restaurant again?
Are you missing your life in that country? What are the things you miss?
Have you adopted any new lifestyle that you got in that country back home?
Do you want to go back to that country?
Have you changed any of your perceptions about your culture and your country? Are you going to change your family and friends?
Have you changed any of your perceptions about that country; and are you going to change your family and friends as well?


Congratulations on finishing the assignment! You know what, now you can make good use of all your answers and produce a personal journal. Which you can share it with your family and friends; or even with people across your country. So that more people can be benefited from intercultural understanding; and our world will become a better place!


Prepare for the un-prepared

Yes, it is a dream comes true that you will be going to another country for a significant period of time, but not all dreams are sweet. Especially if you have not think thoroughly and nightmare will hit you anytime because you are not guarded from careful thinking.

Keep in your mind that these things may happen at anytime while you are abroad, and it is absolutely normal:

You will become emotional
You will suffer from homesickness
You will not get along with your roommates
It takes time for you to find your place and you have to work hard to get there
Your long-distance relationship will not work
If you are going to school in the US, check this: It gives you the crime data of any school
It is hotter / colder than you think
If things REALLY don't work out (you are not safe in the school / country, your grades drop and you and your teacher can't find a way for your to bounce back, etc.), it may be time for you to consider to go to another school or go home. It is another hard decision to make, but don't hesitate to make it if it is necessary. Just remember to talk to the professor, parents and friends to understand your problem better before you make the decision.

Living in the Dorm / Hostel

You probably won't have a choice or have limited choices which dorm you will stay. The best way to deal with it is keeping an open mind. If you are open and friendly, every dorm will become the funniest dorm on campus.

Ask if the school or landlord allow you to arrive earlier than scheduled if it is important to you.

If you are arriving with your parents, they may do something accidentally embarrass you. Talk to them instead of making it a big deal. Just remember they are about to say goodbye to you, it is normal that they may act strange. 

If you know the contact information of your roommates before moving in, try to contact them and plan for what to bring or how to decorate your room together. So that you all can save some effort from bringing similar things. After all, it is always a good thing to say hello before you meet each other.

Things you may ask each other before you meet or at the first time you meet:

What are your hobbies and interests?
How was your high school?
Have you ever shared a bedroom with someone before (not when you travel and stay in a hotel)?
Where are you from and how is it like?
What are the things you don't like to be asked?
What are you going to study in this school and what are you looking for?
Are you planning to do any sports or join any club?
What is your lifestyle, as the sleeping times, habits, etc.?
You prefer verbal communication or we can put up a message board?
Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, will they come visit you (often)?
Cleaning views?

The Roommates' Bill of Rights (The College Dorm Survival Guide)

Roommates' Right:
Be respect
Open Communication
Clean living quarters mutually
Personal safety and security of possessions
Comfortable sleep and study conditions
To be asked before their possessions are used
Stay true to their own values
To agree to disagree
Access to residence staff
Civilly treated
Comfortable in their own living space

Roommates' Responsibility:
Respect each other and each other's privacy
Communicate openly with each other and discuss potential conflicts before they get out of hand
Keep living space neat and clean
Maintain each other's safety
Maintain a comfortable environment for sleep and study purposes
Compromise as appropriate
Abide all residence hall rules and regulations

To make friends in the dorm:

Keep your door open when you are inside
Or simply take the lead, organize some activities for your neighbors
If you wanna see a movie or play video games, organize a movie night or tournament instead
Be friendly and smile all the times
Let everyone know your name and your face by putting a picture and a message board on the door
Stop using IM or Email if you just want to talk to the guy or girl next door (few doors away)
Take up a job in the dorm if there is something available, or ask for permission to create one such as, recycling campaign director, hall newsletter organizer, language exchange partner.

Talking to the locals in your dorm:
Ask what are the upcoming holidays and what they will do
Ask about the meaning of their names
Ask them about the country
Ask them what they are making if they are cooking in the kitchen
Ask them to teach you a few words in their native language

It is time to check-out

Know about all the check-out procedure and be a responsible resident one last time
Clean your room
Donate things that you don't need and won't take home
Take pictures of your dorm, roommates and friends
Sign a memory book
Make a dorm-alumni group
Make a dorm / floor T-shirt
Say goodbye to everyone!

Things I can do (or Parents / Teachers can do to help young people) if I cannot go live / study abroad

Learn a different language

Language plays a major part in forming a particular culture. It is one of the key identities of a unique culture. If you go to learn a new language, not only you will be able to explore some new language structure, but also new form of writing, sometimes new alphabets, characters, symbols, etc. Besides, you will also know about the culture, the daily life, the traditions, the food, the literature of the people you create and speak in that language.

When you go to learn a new language, the teacher is usually a native speaker and a native from the region where the language is spoken. He or she will be a very good source of information every time you have question about that particular culture; and you should ask him or her a lot of questions so that you will know more and more about that culture.

Once you have reached a basic level of using the new language, it will further open you to a wider resource and opportunity in understanding that culture. You will be able to listen to songs and watch movies in that language and about that culture. You may also have chance to meet and talk to more and more people of that cultural background. So once you have mastered a new language, you are already half-way abroad.

Encourage your parents, teachers, schools or organizations to think globally

Not everyone can go live / study abroad so we should do as much as possible to provide opportunities to help them to contact and understand the rest of the world. You can raise the following in a class / staff meeting next time:

Suggest to organize assignments, trips, studies which include other cultures. Ask students to find out how people in different parts of the world celebrate New Year; not only in your country for example. Take students to see a Chinese Opera instead of Broadway Musical sometimes. Organize food gatherings of different cuisines for your staff activities.

Give a world atlas (or ask your parents / teachers to get one) to your students or children; and read with them from time to time. Even better, get a world almanac. Ask them to make presentations of different cultures / countries.

Involve in charity work or activity regards international concern

Charity work and movement related to global issues will enable you to know more about what is happening in other parts of the world; and may also give you the opportunity to meet people from other countries. In this globalized 21st Century, there is no more excuse for anyone, especially young people, to have zero idea about what is going on around the globe. 

Support the international section of your school or organization

If you are a student, join the international society and work for the international office, to organize activities for international students and become friends with them. Support them in getting-used to the new environment and begin 'cultural exchange at home'  together. If your school has a decent number of international student, it will enable you to 'travel around the world and have contact with all the cultures in the world' even without boarding the plane and spending a nickel. You will also have friendship from around the world which you can continue even after you finish school. Your friends from around the world will update with you things happening in their countries and become a source of information if you decide to visit their countries later.

If there are overseas colleagues in your organization, be-friend with them, be a good host and learn about their cultures.

Last updated: August, 2017 (Version 6.0); since January 01, 2007
Best viewed in 1024 x 768 resolution; IE 11 / Safari / Chrome / Firefox - By Lorencio H M Shiu; all rights reserved MMVII - MMXVII

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