Struggles of an International Student

Moving to a new country for education is an exciting endeavour. And being an international student, it puts you in a position where you can definitely grow as an individual.  While you study, you get to live in a new environment and experience different cultures. For some students, studying abroad also means different or more opportunities. You might feel that the experience you gain as an international student, gives you an edge that will carry forward into your career.

However, the excitement of it all comes with its own set of challenges that almost every international student will face. Here is a list of struggles you might come across and tips on how to overcome them.

1) Culture shock: Living in a different country is undoubtedly exciting. It is a chance to learn and experience life in a different place unlike how you might on a holiday. From the moment you land at the airport, you might think to yourself ‘This is my new home now’. All your senses are heightened as you take in your new environment for the first time. For some people, you might have moved from a tropical and humid climate to someplace cold in the mountains that are covered in snow.  And as you meet more people and learn about the new culture you have set yourself in, you also start to notice how different things are and even how different you are from the people who grew up in that country. And if you are feeling disoriented by all these new experiences, then you are facing a cultural shock. Don’t worry, this is more common than you think. Take your time to assimilate into this new culture. Try looking up an international student union, where you can find others in the same position as you and learn about your new environment with them.

2) Self-care: So now that you are living in a new country, presumably without your parents or family, how do you live? You might need to learn how to cook (I do not encourage eating takeaway every day). You will also need to clean up after yourself. Your parents cannot see how messy your room is and remind you to clean it. Getting on top of doing your laundry and even planning to cook some weekly meals for yourself will help you settle in more comfortably. A hot tip is also to be friendly to everyone and to make friends. Just because your friends are back in your home country or have moved countries themselves, does not mean you cannot make new friends. Going to the cinema and eating out is a much better experience with a friend or two, instead of going alone.

3) Managing your finances: You are now solely responsible for yourself. Even if your family is supporting you financially, you should be aware of how your finances are managed. How much do rent and utilities cost? How much do your groceries cost? How much is public transport? Maybe you should get a bicycle to commute? You might even want to look up a part time job to earn extra money for those movies you want to go to with your new friends. Or even going for a vacation, camping or a road trip, travelling to different parts of this new country you are in. You don’t want to be spending all your money on fun and games and have nothing to eat at home other than instant noodles.

4) Finding a job: If you’ve just moved and started your education, look for jobs that do not require much experience. Like working at the local supermarket and filling up shelves. Some people might think of this as a lowly job, but dealing with difficult customers will teach you a lot about how to manage people and yourself. They could even be jobs related to your hobbies or interests. Like working in the library, or becoming a lifeguard at the local swimming pool. And If you are further along in your education remember that internships, provide valuable work experience. Ideally, these internships and jobs should be related to your field of study.

Everyone wants fair-paid employment. It is unlikely you will land the first job you apply for. And rejections might make you feel disappointed and low. But never give up. Eventually, something will come along. Approach every job as you would approach your education. As a learning experience.

5) Landing a professional job: You have settled in, made new friends and you’re close to the end of your education. Maybe you have a year left or maybe just 6 months. But you are starting to think that you might want to continue living in the country for longer or even make it your new permanent home. As soon as you decide that you want to continue living in the country after your education, this also means that you will need a professional job. If you have applied for and done internships or part-time work in your field of study, then you are ahead of the game. And if you have not, you need to start now. Gaining work experience in your studied field improves your chances of being able to procure a temporary or permanent visa to stay in the country.

Even after gaining experience, the reality is that in most countries there are laws and regulations which companies need to abide by. It is so much easier for them to hire a citizen instead of a foreigner. In their defence, the company needs assurance that you have the necessary skills that they are looking for, or you have a right to stay and work in the country to save them the trouble of legal processes associated with sponsoring visas.

Abstract Transformations is aware of the challenges that international students face when trying to gain experience and secure paid professional employment. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunity to pursue their dreams, regardless of where they come from. Our organisation helps you fill the gaps in your skills and job search. We prepare you for opportunities and connect you with our network of employers.

Abstract Transformations is a Melbourne-based company helping graduates and professional with Employment and Migration Solutions since the last 25 years. Get in touch with our team today at or give us a call at +61-416-943-396. Our team of experts and Career Advocates help direct your career on the right track with solutions that are specifically curated to your needs.