inspiration,  Life

The Truth About Studying Abroad

I had done some posts a while ago on Universities and Studying Abroad which had some great feedback and I wanted to do a post on what it’s like once you actually get to university but as you probably know I’m taking a gap year right now. So I asked one of my best friends Natasha if she would write a few posts on what it’s like in the first year of studying abroad since she is studying in Malaysia at the moment and she wrote this incredible post! I really hope this helps everyone 🙂

Leaving home is no child’s play. As much as I was looking forward to studying abroad and being on my own for a while, the moment I realized just how far away I am from my family and friends, I wasn’t looking forward to it anymore. I’m going to be honest, my first month in university abroad was hell. Now you’re probably wondering, where on earth did I end up? The answer to that is Malaysia. As it turns out, lots of people opted or are opting to study in Malaysia now as opposed to the UK and USA.

I’m from Kenya, which is halfway across the world, almost fourteen hours away from Malaysia. I’ve got to say, I had a major culture shock upon arrival. Things here are so different from back home. Although English is spoken here as a second language, not everyone can speak it (more about the same will be in an upcoming post).

Don’t get me wrong, Kenya does have some brilliant universities. There are however several reasons I chose to study abroad.

First off, I am a very reserved and shy person. Those who know me well are aware that I do not make friends easily. I decided that I have got to leave my comfort zone and try new things, studying abroad being one of them. I think this move to study in a foreign country has exposed me to what else is out there. I now know of a different life from what I was living back home. I’ve only been abroad a month, and it wasn’t easy, but I hope for the best in the months and years to come.

Secondly, I needed room to grow. Not in size (I’m plenty grown in size). I have never been away from my family or on my own for the duration that I’m going to be, and being the way I am, if I hadn’t made the move to study abroad I would be miserable and perhaps even more closed off than I already was. I am definitely more aware of a whole other lifestyle now. Never in my life would I have imagined myself where I am today. The truth is, when you’ve got it all planned in your head, be prepared for it to all fall apart and turn out completely different or even the complete opposite of what you imagined. It happened to me.

Next, no matter how close you are to your family, as a teenager and young adult, you will want your own space. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be independent and alone for a while. We all need a break. For me, university was that space. I remember being frustrated with situations at home almost every day, and I could not wait to leave. When I did leave and began to realize how difficult it was for me settle into university life, I really started to appreciate being near loved ones. Sure, they drive you up the wall sometimes, but they’re important in your life. It was hard waking up and realizing that I had a whole day ahead of me to figure things out alone. It’s easy to get mad at people. When I think of all the times that I got mad or angry at the most insignificant things I want to kick myself.

When you’re on your own, you appreciate doing things for yourself. I have to make time for laundry and cleaning and also grocery shopping, which I prefer to do on my off days or the weekends. Like any hostel, mine has rules, and one of the many rules is that we cannot cook in our apartment. It does sound ridiculous and I have been getting takeaways for dinner almost every day. I do not eat fast food as often as you may think, because even as a foodie, I cannot eat fried food every day. This has given me a chance to try out different types of food and once in a while I do treat myself to lavish meals. Not too lavish if I may add, obviously being a student I’m on a budget.

I do share my apartment with four other girls, and space in common areas like the fridge and cabinets can be an issue. That shouldn’t stop you from buying your essentials however. Housemate fights are common from what I have heard. Although I haven’t been in any, and I don’t plan to be, I have had to make some adjustments in order to feel at home. Be friendly to your housemates. Two out of the five of us are international students. This is a good chance to make new friends and get to know about new things, which is part of the growth process I mentioned earlier. As it has been only a month, we’re not the best of friends. That will take some time of course. We’re all away from our family and friends, and it’s vital that we maintain a good relationship. And who knows, we could end up staying in touch way after university is over too.

I will conclude by saying that although I have had some tough times in the past month, I am doing my best to make things work. I have three years to work on what I want to be in the future, and who knows the challenges that lie ahead. My advice to those of you who are going to start university or college soon, or who have already started, is that it’s okay if it doesn’t end up being the way you imagined. Not everything can go our way, and we have to deal with disappointment sometimes. I did have second thoughts when I started out. I felt lonely and I cried every chance I got, but it all starts taking shape in due course. It is difficult, but what I have learnt is that you have to make it work for yourself. Make it turn out the way you want. Fill yourself with positive thoughts and try to focus on what you’re actually there for. Travel around the country too, it can’t be all work and no play. This also applies to those of you who want to stay back in your home towns and go to university. Take the time to do things you wouldn’t normally do, and you could turn out to be a totally different person at the end of it all.

I would like to thank one of my best friends PoojaG for suggesting that I do this post. Putting my experience down in words has made me feel much better. Thanks Pooj for giving me this platform to get the message to people out there. I miss you so much and I hope to feature in your blogs in the future! You’re a phenomenal writer, and I wish the best for you!

I wish all of you the very best in your future endeavours!

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