When in a foreign country, you’re usually there on a holiday, only staying at one place short term. So naturally, thought of living away from home to a place that wasn’t familiar was quiet daunting and stressing to say the least. However, it’s all part of the exchange student journey and I was ready to give it a good go.
Stepping into my apartment dorm for the first time is where the concept of living away from home really hit me. However, most students in the United States travel across the country to live at or near the colleges that they attend, so almost everyone was in the same situation as me.
Personally, living away from home (overseas) meant that had to say goodbye to things that make your life easier back at home. First things first, the concept of not having my family there with you (although, easily contactable through skype/facetime) physically as a support group really hit me. At the moment I really do miss my family a truckload, back at home just their presence alone would ease up a tough day at work or university.
Nevertheless, living away from home is a growing experience and as you grow older, you have to rely on your own instinct, motivation and drive. Speaking of drive, I miss driving so much, although here in America, they drive on the right hand side of the road – which I still get confused when walking the streets. As I bring up walking, I do a lot of that here alongside with using public transport system (New York City has a great system). Which is why I miss driving – it was a convenient for me back at home and saying goodbye to that for a long period of time is something I have to accept whilst living away from home.
I am lucky to have awesome apartment-mates so sharing your living space with people who you do not know isn’t as bad as it sounds. I am living with a group of international students from Chile, Japan, Mozambique and Brazil – they’re always friendly and open to explore new surroundings in New York City; this ensures myself that I will always have a fun and safe time whilst being in a unknown area.
Furthermore, living away from home means you’ve got to provide yourself with the basic needs to live in a dorm. Over here at St John’s University they only provide you with a single bed, mattress, table and storage for your clothes and belongings. It took me a considerable amount of time, money and effort to transform my apartment dorm into a “home away from home”. So if you’re looking to study exchange and live away from home for the first time – this may be the “make or break” situation for you. Buy the necessities (toiletries, beddings, snacks) and then things that make you comfortable but don’t go breaking the bank – remember you’re in a foreign city/country, you should be spending most of your time outside exploring and of course, attending classes and studying at your campus! (Here’s a photo of the simple setup I have):
It all comes down to a balance of a good attitude and reasonable expectations whilst living away from home that shapes my exchange experience. I can only hope to have more learning experiences (good or bad) that can fully enrich my exchange experience here and that teaches me that living away from home isn’t something to fear, instead it’s something to look forward to and another way to grow up individually.