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### Unforeseen Obstacles Encountered While Pursuing Education Overseas

You’ve achieved your dream of studying in your desired country, pursuing your ideal field of study at your preferred university. But does this automatically lead to a happily ever after scenario?

Contrary to our idealistic views, studying abroad presents numerous challenges. These obstacles often catch international students off guard as they step out of their comfort zones into unfamiliar territories.

One of the initial hurdles faced by students is self-care. Hrishik Roy, a freshman at Dartmouth College, shares his struggle, “Adjusting to handling my own laundry was tough. I had no idea that different fabrics require specific settings on the washing machine, and that you can’t dry all clothes on high settings as it may cause shrinkage. It’s all about trial and error.”

Another unforeseen challenge is managing energy levels post daily chores. After tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning, students may find themselves too exhausted to focus on academics. Zahin Yasar, a junior at the University of Texas at Arlington, reflects, “Having some cooking skills prior to my arrival was advantageous. However, for those without culinary experience, preparing a meal like chicken curry could consume up to four hours, time that is precious. It made me realize the privilege I had back in Bangladesh where meals were readily available.”

Nevertheless, each individual’s experience with these obstacles varies, allowing room for adaptability. Zahin notes, “Gradually, you acclimatize to this lifestyle, learning to be organized. I now apply this organization not just to my living space but also to my laboratory setup.” Thus, hearing about others’ challenges shouldn’t discourage prospective applicants.

Despite self-care efforts, falling ill is an unavoidable part of life. However, accessing healthcare, especially health insurance, poses a significant challenge for many students. Hrishik explains, “At state schools, many students have to bear the cost of insurance without financial aid.” Likewise, Shayor Ahmed Khan, a freshman at UC Berkeley, highlights the uncertainty even with insurance coverage. “While insurance handles numerous medical expenses, students are often unaware of the extent of coverage and the applicable conditions.”

Moreover, the absence of a safety net from family and friends can be daunting. Shayor expresses his feelings of disconnection, stating, “Language acts as a barrier for many. In my case, it’s not fluency in English but the divergence in vocabulary that poses a challenge. Cultural differences play a significant role, contributing to a sense of culture shock.”

Financial management emerges as a pressing issue for international students on limited budgets. Every penny must be meticulously planned. Radia Waziha, a senior at the University of Calgary, recounts her experience, “Working minimum wage jobs in fast-food outlets helped cover living expenses. However, the physical strain impacted my academic performance.” She adds, “Even occasional indulgences can quickly add up.” Expenses like travel, groceries, and stationery can strain finances, underscoring the importance of tracking daily expenditures.

Adapting to a new currency system presents another hurdle. Initially, students may mentally convert foreign currencies to assess value. Zahin shares, “A Starbucks beverage may cost 3 or 4 dollars. In my mind, that’s 400 taka, which seems excessive.” This adjustment period can hinder social interactions initially, but with time and experience, integration becomes smoother.

Ultimately, the pursuit of a college degree entails more than attending lectures and maintaining grades. It involves skill diversification, networking, and identifying one’s niche—a challenging task in a foreign environment.

Tasriqul Islam, a consultant at VTE Group in Dallas, Texas, offers insights on navigating this challenge. “Identifying a career path is the initial step—seeking guidance from seniors in the field is beneficial. Networking is crucial to penetrate the industry. I engaged in campus job fairs, interacting with top company HRs, fostering valuable connections.” He emphasizes, “In the U.S., recommendations hold significant weight and are reserved for diligent individuals with potential.”

While studying abroad opens doors to opportunities, the journey is arduous. From mundane tasks like laundry to career aspirations, preparation is key to navigating the complexities of international student life.

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Noyolee Munim oscillates between rest and procrastination. Connect with her at