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Studying and living abroad

Hi, there!

My name is Thiago, I am a Brazilian postgraduate student at the University of Surrey. I live in England, but I’m currently based in Sweden for the time being, while travel restrictions are in place. Does it look international? It certainly does! J But I could add that I lived in Scotland, Malta, Estonia, and Germany, besides Brazil, England, and Sweden to impress you all! In this blog post I will talk about my international student experience and top tips for anyone planning on studying and living abroad!

One of the things that I enjoy the most about living and studying in Europe and in the UK is how international the student communities are. In my home country of Brazil we don’t have many international students in universities and we usually only hear Portuguese being spoken on campus. While studying abroad, I met some amazing people: from Rodyka from Mexico and Vlad from Romania to Frankie from New Zealand and Yunah from South Korea (and many more), they continue to be my friends nowadays! I love to learn about others’ foods, cultures, languages, foods, music, and especially food. Did I mention food?

Figure 1: Botanic Garden in Gothenburg, Sweden. One of my trips during my studies abroad!

In this way, studying abroad is a unique experience. You live many opportunities to open up your mindsets and reduce your stereotypes. Living under a different weather might be challenging but it’s compensated by visiting different places, gaining cultural awareness (including about your own country), and learning and practising foreign languages.  Not everything is a bed of roses though! Homesickness is real and you may feel lonely sometimes, as I did, but keeping in touch with your friends from home and hanging out with other international students do help to go through these times.

Here are some of my top tips if you want to study abroad:

1. Research

I can stress enough how important is to do your research about the university and the country where you’re going to. It’s important to know what the living costs are, if you have the adequate winter coats (or swimwear!) and if you are able to get by only with English. There are also grants and scholarships for international students that you may qualify for. Examine carefully websites, online forums, and brochures to help you to decide.

2. Know yourself

Studying abroad requires a lot of planning and it causes many changes that may distress some people. Think about what your strengths and weaknesses are, how you can be resilient and how can you celebrate your achievements. Perhaps it’s time to start some cooking lessons on YouTube or decide what you can’t leave without, so you bag your things appropriately. You don’t want to realise you can’t sleep without your stuffed Pikachu when it’s too late.

3. Reach Out

Some schools have international offices or you may know someone who had lived or studied abroad. Talk to them to learn about what their experiences were, what they enjoyed the most and also any struggles they had. Do not underestimate the knowledge that peers and teachers may have on this subject.

I hope these tips will help you to develop a new ambition and to fulfil your goal of living or studying abroad!