Studying Abroad: A Summary

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So this is it. Having been writing articles for one whole year, this is my last column for Indonesia Mengglobal. I’ve written for you my collection of tips, stories, and lists to help you in your current or future venture abroad. I’ve written you stories on why I decided to study liberal arts, what I regretted not doing when I studied in Melbourne, what to prepare before your departure to Australia, and how I took a corporate job after years of studying politics. But what does it all come down to? What can we ultimately learn about studying abroad? Why should we consider studying abroad at one point in our life? Please bear with me as I try to summarize everything down for you.

  1. It is physically, mentally, and intellectually challenging. Yet every second of it is valuable.

Studying abroad is not easy at all. As fun as it may seem, it is physically, mentally, and often, intellectually challenging. Physically, you have to move away from everything you have been familiar with – your home, your family, your favorite food (yes, those sate ayam, nasi uduk, mie abang-abang, gorengan). It is mentally challenging as you have to come to terms with the fact that you need to step out of your comfort zone, adjust to your new surrounding, and be in a complete survival mode.

You need to try and speak the local language all the time and adjust to their culture, which may not always fit your belief. Even the different sense of humor matters. And again, you have a load of responsibility to complete your studies, your main responsibility, which ultimately brings us to the intellectual challenge part.

You are abroad for a purpose: to complete your studies successfully. You need to prepare yourself with loads of readings, assignments, group projects, and many other activities. This intellectual challenge, after all, is combined with the physical and mental challenge that you have to go through. However, believe me, when you get through all that, you will realize how far you have come to conquer your limitations, your duties, and a whole set of challenges. Remember that when you come out of it, you will come out as a true champion, which is why it is worth it.

  1. It is not easy, so don’t ever be afraid to seek help.

You need to always note that you are not alone. There are many other students who are also responsible to complete their studies. This is why you need to socialize, make friends, and help each other out. In my experience, studying in small groups have always helped us motivate each other and seek each other’s help when we are stuck with a question, assignment, or just simply when we lose motivation to continue.

Also, remember that your university is there to help you grow academically. Essentially, they have their resources to help you out and solve your problems.

Struggling with your essay structure? You can go to your student centre and seek academic writing assistance. They will support you with skill training and materials to help you structure your ideas, readings, and writings. Ultimately, you can always come up to your lecturer/ tutor to consult with them when you are stuck. Struggling to understand your subject when exam season is coming? Again, you need to let your tutor know and he/ she can help you out with materials, readings, and practice questions. The point is, never be afraid to seek help.

  1. It comes with a handful of freedom, which requires a great deal of responsibility.

Let’s face it. You are on your own in a country where not many people really know who you are or which family you come from. You are there to associate with fellow students, many of whom are also on their own. Also, you are in a new country that will excite you with its novelties. You need to experience all the fun, but, more importantly, you need to always put your studies above everything else.

I have personally met many people who joined student society and, along the way, spent far too much of their time on it and much less on their studies, which eventually didn’t end up really good. Other example, you may find yourself with a lucrative part-time job. Firstly, don’t let the part time job drives you away from your main responsibility to complete your task as a student. Also, don’t spend too much of your earnings to buy things you don’t really need. Save some along the way.

All in all, you should study hard to fulfill your main responsibility and purpose abroad. Make use of the library, consult with your tutor, seek help from your student center, and form a study group with your friends.

On the other hand, as you are there to experience the life outside of your usual comfort zone, experience the most out of it, but always handle with care. Get that part time job, join that student society, take that barista lesson, volunteer at that non-profit charity event, and enjoy that football game.

After all, remember to come back to your country proudly with a degree in hand and whole series of experiences that you will always cherish for the rest of your life.

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Mary Rasita
Mary Rasita is a Master of Arts graduate in Political Communication from the University of Leeds in the UK. Prior to that, she did a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications & Political Science at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She finally resides back in Jakarta and is now working as an Analyst at Indonesia's e-commerce giant, MatahariMall.com. During her time in Melbourne, she has co-founded a Melbourne-based print magazine called Perspektif. She is keen to sharpen her knowledge in 'the internet of everything', intersectional feminism, and observational comedy.