Again, but Better: 10 Things No One Tells You About Studying Abroad

studying abroad

There are both good and amazing things about studying abroad (like the ones that you watch in movies or read about in books). But there are also other things that you don’t expect (the ones that I’ll be talking about here). 

This post is written from my point of view. I have moved around A LOT and because of it, I have studied and lived in different parts of the world. 

What made me want to talk about this topic?

Well, the idea came up to talk about this topic because of the book Again, but Better by Christine Riccio. Btw, I did not finish reading it, but that is another conversation. 

The book is basically about this college girl with no friends who is studying a career she doesn’t like to please her parents and because of it, she decides to move to London for a semester abroad. 

(Spoiler alert: her life becomes a thousand times better).

So… today I’m gonna tell you 10 things that those cliché movies and books don’t tell you about studying abroad.

studying abroad

# 1: You’re gonna miss so many things about your country/culture

Comparing your country/culture to the new one is INEVITABLE.  

I remember that I used to miss this specific ice cream shop so much that I always complained and said that the ice cream in that country was the worst hahaha. 

Also, I never thought about traditions or food from my country as “different” or “unique”, but once I moved it was one of the things that I missed the most! 

AND those restaurants who tried to mimic the type of traditional food I grew up with and called it by a different name were (and are) the absolute worse!!

# 2: Meeting other people from you same country will be amazing

Meeting people who don’t need an explanation of what a particular word or phrase means is the best! Especially when studying abroad. 

Also, it’s always nice to have someone who understands the culture shock and be able to share things about it with them. 

Of course, if you’re going to study abroad with your friends from high school/college because you’re doing some type of ‘exchange’, it’s very likely that this will not happen to you.  

# 3: Even your ‘host’ country shares your same native language, the culture will still be very different

Customs are different, the food is different, even the same word can have a different meaning. 

Also…. the punctuality of the people, the time when people have lunch, breakfast, or dinner is different.

# 4: You’re going to meet people who don’t care that you’re from another country

A lot of people are actually interested in learning about different cultures and are drawn to people who are not like them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

In my case, I met some people who didn’t know where my country was located in the map or even knew that it existed! 

In movies and books, they make it seem as if people from other cultures/countries receive all the attention in the world when studying abroad.

# 5: Everyone experiences culture shock differently

What I don’t like about a specific city might be the same reason why another person loves it! 

Some people adapt really easily, but other take their time getting used to their new environment! And either way is totally okay!

# 6: The first few weeks are the best

New places to visit, new food to try, new language or accent! It’s like being a tourist! 

It’s also interesting to know how different this “new country” is compared to yours! 

# 7: The adaptation process can take a long time

Like I mentioned before, everyone adapts differently to a new country. 

Facing a new culture, information overload, and sometimes even the language barrier can be factors that influence this process.

I’m one of these people who takes time adapting, so that’s why I like mentioning that taking 2-4 months or more to adapt is okay! 

# 8: You will begin to appreciate very much the lifestyle you had or still have

For this one, I’m specifically talking about studying abroad for a short period of time (1 semester- 1 year) and staying with a host family. 

Usually, when a host family offers some rooms from their house to international students who are doing an exchange, they offer their home because they get paid to do it. 

This means that because you’re living in a house that’s not yours, there are aslo certain rules that you have to follow. 

Regardless of your residence situation, it’s inevitable to compare your previous high school/ university to your new one. 

# 9: Being a tourist is a completely different experience from studying abroad

Going on vacation somewhere is going to the top tourist attractions, eating traditional food, listening to people speak another language, staying at a hotel / Airbnb, etc. 

The worst thing that can happen to you as a tourist is that you hate the city. But, you know that in a few days you’ll return home. 

When studying abroad it is not just days or weeks; it’s months and even years. There are very few choices if you don’t like it. 

# 10: Studying abroad is not a synonym for an extended vacation

There is a change in teaching methods, new teachers, new class schedules, etc.

It’s a new lifestyle that you have to adapt to without forgetting about your studies but enjoying it at the same time. 

I movies and books, they never show the characters studying or learning about the different teaching/grading system. And ofc, they shouldn’t need to do that because I don’t think that most people care about these details in fictional stories. 

Good organization is key. 


Studying abroad might be a choice (like, if your college offers you that opportunity), 

it might be because of your parents’ work, for an internship, or for other reasons. Sometimes it is for a semester but other times it is for years. 

Whatever the reason might be, it’s a change that brings you good things, things that you’ll never expect but in the end, it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.

Your Thoughts:

Have you ever studied abroad?

If you haven’t, would you like to?

If you have, do you agree with this list?

  1. Jas @ XIV Blog

    Ahh yes, I agree with every single point. I spent ten months in the US as an exchange student and stayed with a hostfamily. It’s an adjustment and life is NOT like it is in the movies (that was my expectation of course…)
    The organisation I went with said many times: It’s not worse, it’s not better, it’s just different when it came to differences between cultures and I had to continually say that to myself so I would be open to new experiences.
    Still, best year of my life and such an experience! 🙂

    • val @behindthatstory

      Yess, being an exchange student was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had!!! Fortunately, my host family was amazing so I had a great time. And yeah… movies don’t highlight the adjustment part 🙃 I’m glad to hear that it was the best year of your life tho 💛

  2. Marta @ the book mermaid

    Oooohh, I could relate to this so much!! I absolutely loved my time in Germany, and it was only four months (I’d LOVE to go back), but I definitely felt the impact. I loved practising new languages, learning about new cultures and sharing my own, but it definitely made me miss random things from home and it made me appreciate what I have very much!!


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