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How can I prepare myself in terms of attending an University abroad and how can I ensure that I get accepted into it?

Im planning to settle abroad but haven't still finalized where and I would like to know a few tips to ensure that I get into it and also make sure I feel safe and secure and make sure that I don't feel lost, at the end of the day. It will be my future home and I would like to belong in that place rather then feeling like a misfit or an outcast. I would appreciate personal experiences of fellow proffesionals on the same. university

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Laura’s Answer

Hi Indhu! I went to university abroad in Hong Kong and I didn’t even speak the local language. First of all, to ensure you get accepted, make sure that the university accepts your high school qualifications. If you’re doing a globally recognised curriculum such as AP, A levels or International Baccalaureate, most universities would accept you. If not, it’s worth checking if they accept a locally recognised qualification. Secondly, do some research on whats the average score threshold for the major you are applying to. The university should same some indications on their website. When you apply, make sure you write a compelling personal statement and work towards scoring well on your exams (It might help you get a scholarship too). Choosing which country to go to is a vital decision which depends on your preferences. I based mine off of the world university ranking i.e the best one i could get into, and one with a reasonable cost (international students generally pays twice the price) . For me, it sure was difficult not speaking the local language. But all my classes are taught in english so there wasn’t really much of an issue. You should always have a positive mindset when it comes to fitting in. I believe you’ll always be able to find lifelong friends in university, no matter where you go. Join the university freshmen groups on social media before moving abroad and don’t miss out on events held during orientation. This is where you’ll meet most of your batchmates. Hope this helps!

Your answer indeed did help me Ms. Laura. Thank you for sharing your valuable experience! Indhu H.

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Indhu.

Wow, I have not studied with the intention of living in the country where I studied. I cannot offer information on that detail, however, hopefully my experience working internationally can help you in some small way.

I traveled abroad to study for my major in college, Romance Languages. I went to study and use Spanish that was part of my major in college. I think that this is a very specific and obvious way to study abroad. You can imagine that there is a high number of pros in this situation. Not only did I live in a home where no one spoke English, I also took classes in the local language, forcing me to really use the language. By the end of the three months, I was dreaming in the language over English. it was incredible. I suppose one thing that you would need to know before you go - How would going abroad enhance what I am learning in my major? I think that some majors would hugely benefit from travel to the right location include: History, Language Studies, any of the arts (from painting to acting to culinary arts), etc. I am less sure about the STEM subjects, but I am sure that there are countries there where seeing a different society's interpretation of STEM that may differ from country to country.

One of the things that I did not do ahead of going abroad was learn about the country I was visiting. That was an error. I found that the greatest challenges that I had with my travel to Mexico was actually the fact that I am Puerto Rican. My knowledge of Spanish was influenced by a particular country's use of that language. It created tension that my American peers did not have. This ultimately came into play when I visited countries like Australia and Malaysia, where American English clashes with British English and cause gaps in understanding. Also, many of the challenges that I have had working internationally come from cultural misunderstandings. It can be easy to offend in other cultures with the ways that Americans do things. You need to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible and understand how to apologize when it inevitably happens.

Some advice for you - learn about other cultures ahead of traveling to those countries. Learn about cultures. There is a cool app from Culture Wizard (https://www.rw-3.com/) that can give you some cultural insights that you might want to consider when traveling. It asks for your home country and the country you will be traveling to. It gives you a comparison of the countries on certain factors and how you may need to change your behavior to be successful in that country. It has a cost, but it is very worthwhile when you begin traveling. I would also recommend that you study cultural differences and learn about them regularly. Some books you might want to read include: Global Dexterity by Andy Molinsky, Managing Across Cultures by Solomon and Schell, and Cultural Agility by Paula Caliguri among many others.

I hope that you find what you are looking for. Just be prepared for your journey so you can get the most from the experience. Good luck.
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