Studying abroad can be a very different experience especially in University life. The auditorium where the classes are held is bigger, there is no dress code (especially for women), the lecturers do not pressure you to attend classes and there is usually no attendance as it is in many colleges. I personally feel few colleges are very strict and conservative in their views of how they treat students and when you go to a college in other countries, particularly western countries, there is a plethora of difference. Although it might take some time to adjust to a new culture and a new type of lifestyle including change of food etc, for me it was an amazing experience to study abroad. I got to meet so many people of different cultures and races and the world becomes a bit smaller as I met people and have friends from around the world. Here are a few tips to adjust to Universities abroad, particularly in US, UK, and Australia.
Keep an open mind – Know where you come from but at the same time be open to different cultures and races. When you go abroad, mix with all other kinds of people and expand your horizon, because what’s the use of only being around your own kind of people? That causes segregation and fear of other cultures, which is always not good. I have experienced so many people who go to other countries and still don’t do anything different and new. Try to explore the new culture and the new place for what it is, if you don’t find your local food, for instance, try other foods!
Motivate yourself to study – You cannot depend on the teachers motivate you to study and are always behind your back, in the west, this is hardly the case if you don’t have self-drive and self-motivation then no one will motivate you to study. Be interested in the topic and get yourself involved in activities relating to it. Try to learn as much as you can about the subject and see what topic interests you to dwell further into it.
Usually, a Planning course is a Master’s qualification – Unlike in some countries where City Planning is also a bachelor’s qualification, in the west, it is a Master’s qualification with a Thesis component. So be prepared for this. There are a lot more opportunities for planners in the western countries than there are in other nations with a much higher pay! So decide where you want to work before you decide where you want to study as they are intertwined and can determine where you get your job. As many countries focus more on the traditional planning aspects, there are many more pressing issues in the west such as public spaces and public art.
Build a good rapport with your colleges and staff – This is really important as they can determine your future life. This usually happens as the bond between the teacher and student is valued in all colleges. For instance, I had a really good relationship with some of the staff where I did my Masters and they gave me good references and will also give me references for the future. So this is a lifetime relationship and it will always stay with you, so make it a good one!
The above are just a few tips on how to adjust to a new country in the west. A lot of students go abroad to study because the universities in their country usually do not rank as highly as in the UK or USA. There is still a long way to go in improving universities and colleges to compete to the same level as these western countries where Universities offer a lot more facilities and freedom for the students. It’s unlikely that you will feel very lonely in the western countries because there will be many people like you and you can talk to. Whether you want to be in your own country or explore more alternatives in the west, you should let your ambition drive you!