I am currently a foreign student living in France and I have been living here for 3 years now. During these years I have experienced all kinds of problems linked with studying abroad. For instance, cultural clashes, racism, communication issues etc… . I am writing this article for those who are planning to go to foreign countries and I hope that it will be of a help.
Most people consider getting college admission the toughest step when planning to study abroad, but as far as I am concerned, the most difficult and important part is to understand the foreign cultural
norms in order to get involved within the local society. Why is it the most difficult step? Not only because most foreign students don’t speak the same language as those from the welcoming country, but also because it is especially difficult to make friends with local students who are already in a group of friends. It is obvious that talking to someone in a foreign language is difficult. But there is a difference
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between not speaking a language well enough and refusing to speak it because we do not feel confident. The more we try not to make mistakes and stop talking, the less confident we are when we then have to speak and the less we want to speak. This is the vicious circle in which foreign students always get trapped into. If you want to study in another country, especially countries with a different language from that of your own, you must be ready to make stupid mistakes and of course, to be teased by others. Frankly, no matter how good we are at learning a foreign language, we will never be as good as the native speakers. So why be ashamed of making mistakes? It is once you can get over the psychological obstacle, that you can speak the foreign language naturally. And this is the key to get involved with local student groups.
Someone might ask why I have to get involved with the local groups, above all when I feel perfectly well when I am with people who come from my own hometown. In a big city, there will be no difficulty to find people from my country. But, if you want to go to another country just to get University knowledge, then you’d better stay in your home country. It’s always easier and faster to learn something in your mother tongue. The interest to study abroad is to understand other cultures that are probably quite different from yours. I believe, however, studying aboard is not something tough but a wonderful journey if you are well prepared.
Written by Ju Fei
JU Fei was born in Xi’an, China in 1989. She then
moved with her parents to the city of Guangzhou (China) when she was 5 years old. In 2007, she entered the Ocean University of China in Qingdao and participated in an exchange program between the Ocean University of China and l’Université de Bretagne Occitantale in Brest (France). She arrived in France in 2009 and has since been a student at l’Université Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne in Paris (France).