Oxford: It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. There are a number of prestigious schools around the world that are the dream destinations of many an aspiring academic. Getting the acceptance letter, however, is only one of many steps to come. Now that you have done what it takes to be accepted, you have to do what it takes to get there and be successful.
Between here and there are a few tips that will help you along the way:
Going to school abroad can be both exciting and scary at the same time. To fight off the sense of loneliness and unfamiliarity, you are going to want to bring everything with you, including your familiar kitchen sink. It’s true: Everything is going to look and feel a lot different over there, wherever “there” happens to be.
But this is an urge you simply have to fight. For one, your folks are going to need that kitchen sink. For another, you are going overseas to have new experiences than the ones you grew up with. Bringing with you everything that is comfortable and familiar somewhat defeats the purpose. Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to pack light, and immerse yourself in the local products and culture to the extent that you can.
Packing light also has the added benefit of saving a ton of money in moving costs. If you choose to go with a full-service outfit, such as United Van Lines, which manages international moves, it may save you a lot of stress. However, if you decide to try to move everything including the water bed, the half-ton desk, and your ATV, it’s going to cost you quite a bit more than you may be willing or able to pay. Packing only the essentials means paying for the overseas shipment of only the essentials.
If you wanted to party like it’s 1999, and get brain-wrecked every night by your brain-wrecking substance of choice, you could have stayed home to do that. Your acceptance into that university is the opportunity of a lifetime. Such good fortune is often twice shy when once spurned.
Among the biggest distractions worthy of your best avoidance efforts is the Greek life. If you are looking for just one good reason not to join a sorority. The first among them is that it is too time-consuming. The reasons get even better, and more unequivocal from there. Anything that reduces your chances of academic success when studying overseas should be avoided like the plague: a thing that should also be avoided at all costs.
Learn the Local Language
Consider how you feel about people you see in your country who cannot speak the local language. Do you feel pity, annoyance, or both? They can never fully assimilate into society. They cannot hold a casual conversation with a local person. They can only partially understand what is going on around them. And they are greatly limited with regard to what they can do, and where they can go. Their freedom is curtailed by their own inability to communicate.
If you cannot be bothered to learn the local language for the place you are headed, that person is you. It might be possible to get by on translation apps for a little while. But they should be considered stop-gap measures. On that same smartphone you are using for translations, you can learn a completely new language with the use of a variety of apps, some of which are free. Learning the local language is also a simple matter of respect for the local culture.
Of course there is more to think about than these three things. Figuring out the currency might be near the top of the list. You might also find converting to the metric system a bit challenging. The main thing is to make room in your heart and mind for new experiences and information. You’re not in Kansas anymore.