Thinking of coming to study in the UK? Living and studying in a different country is always going to be a life-enriching experience, but you need to be aware that there are some disadvantages too. First, though, we’ll look at the advantages.
1. There is no better way to learn a language than to live in a country where it is spoken. It may not be easy at first, but to live immersed in English gives you so much more opportunity to learn quickly. Be aware, though, that there can be a temptation to socialise only with people who speak your mother tongue. You need to make sure you take full advantage of the opportunity.
2. Different education systems may promote different methods of learning and teaching. Some countries put a heavy emphasis on rote learning. In UK universities you are expected to learn through research and investigation, and form your own opinions. Attitudes to assessment also differ greatly. In the UK the emphasis is often on continuous assessment, although exams still play an important part.
3 The university will help with finding accommodation, and there are always student advice centres, but basically you will be on your own. It may be the first time you have had to share a flat, cook for yourself, manage your finances, or organise your day. It can be a real ‘in at the deep end’ experience, but you will become a more independent person through it.
4. Although television and the internet have made us all more aware of how other people live, it’s not until you actually experience a different culture that you realise how diverse the world is. You learn about the big things, such as the way society is organised, and little things, like the way people queue. Studying abroad is an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
5. Future employers will always be impressed when they see you’ve studied abroad. It shows initiative, and of course your language skills will be more competitive. You may have had a work placement, or even studied on a sandwich course, which will have given you skills you can take to the workplace. Just working part-time while you study gives you some work experience.
Now we’ll consider a couple of disadvantages:
1. Nearly every foreign student experiences this to some extent. It suddenly hits you that everything around you is so different from what you are used to. The food, the shops, the list is endless. You may feel lonely and isolated, especially if you are struggling with the language. Your university will have organisations and societies for overseas students, and these can be a great help when you are first settling in.
2. Studying abroad is expensive. You have to pay tuition fees, which are usually higher than for UK students, as well as living expenses. You may be able to get a scholarship, or get financial help through a student exchange scheme, so check out these options before you apply. Depending what type of visa you have, you may not be allowed to work legally. You need to be realistic about whether you will be able to make ends meet when you are in the UK.
(Source: British Council )