The 11 Biggest Mistakes When Studying Abroad And How To Avoid Them


Studying abroad can be a transformative experience, offering a wealth of learning and personal growth opportunities. However, the adventure comes with its challenges. To maximize the benefits of your international education, avoid these common pitfalls.

Embarking on an educational journey overseas? Sidestep the common blunders. Discover the 11 biggest mistakes students make when studying abroad and learn how to navigate them for a fulfilling experience.  Students can sometimes find themselves saying, “I wish someone could write my homework,” amidst adapting to a new culture and academic system.

1. Not Researching Your Destination Thoroughly

Immerse Yourself in Knowledge Before You Dive Into the Experience

Many students get caught up in the excitement of going abroad and overlook the importance of in-depth research about their destination. Cultural norms, climate, local laws, and the educational system are just the tip of the iceberg.

How to Avoid:

Read extensively about the country and city you’ll be living in.

Connect with current or former students through social media groups.

Attend pre-departure sessions organized by your home and host institutions.

2. Underestimating the Cost of Living

Budget Wisely to Keep Your Finances in Check

The thrill of new experiences can lead to overspending, especially if you haven’t anticipated the real cost of living in your host country.

How to Avoid:

Create a comprehensive budget that includes accommodation, food, transport, and miscellaneous expenses.

Look into student discounts and consider part-time work if your visa allows it.

3. Skimping on Health and Safety Precautions


Your Well-Being Should Be Your Top Priority

Ignoring health insurance or safety guidelines can lead to dire consequences. It’s vital to be prepared for any situation.

How to Avoid:

Obtain comprehensive health insurance valid in your host country.

Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers and healthcare facilities.

4. Not Engaging with the Local Culture

Enrich Your Experience by Diving Into New Traditions

Sticking only to what’s familiar can limit the breadth of your international experience. Embracing the local culture is part of the educational journey.

How to Avoid:

Participate in local events and traditions.

Try to learn the local language, at least conversationally.

Avoid sticking only to student groups from your own country.

5. Overpacking

Travel Light to Ease Your Mobility and Mindset

Bringing too many items from home can be burdensome. Overpacking is a common issue that can make your transition more difficult than it needs to be.

How to Avoid:

Prioritize essential items and consider buying certain things after arrival.

Check baggage allowances and avoid excess fees.

6. Closing Off to New Experiences


Say Yes to Growth and Opportunities

Saying “no” too often can cause you to miss out on the unique opportunities that studying abroad presents.

How to Avoid:

Be open to trying new things, whether it’s a local dish or an unfamiliar academic subject.

Attend networking events and workshops that might be outside of your comfort zone.

7. Poor Time Management

Balance Your Studies and Exploration

Finding a balance between academic responsibilities and exploring your surroundings can be tricky. Neglecting either can lead to stress and missed opportunities.

How to Avoid:

Set a weekly schedule that includes time for studies, social activities, and rest.

Use organizational tools like planners or digital apps to keep track of assignments and engagements.

Studying abroad is a chance to grow academically and personally, but it’s not without its challenges. By being aware of these mistakes and actively working to avoid them, you can make your time abroad a period of memorable and transformative experiences.

8. Remember Why You’re There

Getting swept up in the cultural and social aspects of studying abroad is easy, but losing sight of your academic objectives can be a critical error.

How to Avoid:

Regularly review your academic goals.

Schedule study sessions and stay in contact with your professors or lecturers.

Balance coursework with leisure by remembering your primary purpose is to study.

9. Not Having a Support System

Building Your Safety Net

Being in a foreign country can sometimes be overwhelming. Students often make the mistake of not establishing a support system.

How to Avoid:

Connect with a student advisor or counselor at your host institution.

Reach out and maintain communication with family and friends back home.

Engage with student groups and international student offices which can offer support.

10. Failing to Plan for the Unexpected


Prepare for the Twists and Turns

Whether it’s a global health crisis or personal emergencies, unexpected events can disrupt your study abroad experience.

How to Avoid:

Keep emergency funds or have a financial backup plan.

Stay informed about the political and social climate of your host country.

Have a contingency plan for returning home if necessary.

11. Not Documenting Your Journey

The Value of Memories

In the age of social media, this may seem counterintuitive, but not taking the time to document your experiences can be something you regret later.

How to Avoid:

Keep a journal or blog about your experiences.

Take photos or videos, but also take the time to absorb the moment without technology.

Collect mementos that have significance to your experience.

In conclusion, studying abroad is a multifaceted adventure that, without proper planning and open-mindedness, can lead to pitfalls that diminish the experience. By anticipating these common mistakes, students can equip themselves with the knowledge and strategies to not only survive but thrive in their new environment. By avoiding these errors, your study abroad stint can transition from a mere academic obligation to a chapter of life filled with growth, discovery, and a well-rounded education.

Written by Rebecca Eulikk