For those who have excelled in the IELTs and/or TOEFL, congratulations! You are now one step closer to your overseas graduate school dreams! However, getting into grad school is one thing, but staying in graduate school is an entirely different animal. Here are some tips on how to survive (and enjoy) graduate school abroad!
Follow Your Visa Conditions
Remember, when taking graduate studies in a foreign land, the government of that country did you a favor by granting you your student visa. All you need to do in return is to follow the conditions stated in your student visa. So, this means that you should not get a job outside your university, if your visa restrictions include work. However, your scholarship may provide employment for you in the university, so this means you don’t really need to seek work. Please, obey your host country’s immigration laws, to avoid getting deported, which can ruin your dreams in an instant.
Make the Most of Your Research
Unlike undergraduate students, graduate students are more focused on research, so do make the most of what your host country offers you, with regards to research. For example, if you are studying in Seville, you can study the Spanish colonial era by accessing the primary sources found in the Archives of the Indies, which is the best repository of documents pertaining to the Council of the Indies, which made policies affecting the Spanish colonies, including the East Indies (Philippines). As a result, graduate school abroad allows you to gain access to more sources for research, so please, make the most out of them.
Manage Your Time Wisely
Time management is important for graduate students, but more so for those studying abroad, since graduate studies in other countries, especially in the Ph.D level, place more emphasis on research than coursework. Also, you will likely only be working in your host university, or even not be working at all, so you need to manage your time more. Instead of balancing work and study, you might be balancing study and tourism, since there is a lot to see in your host country. Balance your time, and you may be able to satisfy the explorer in you.
Explore Your Host Country
Even though your priority in graduate school is to finish your degree, when abroad, it is still important that you explore your host country, for the sites and sights can give you inspiration for research. Also, you will never know if (or when) you will return, so take advantage of this chance to see a new place.
Enjoy the Local Cuisine
Finally, the most important tip I can give you with regards to graduate school survival abroad is to enjoy the local cuisine. This is because nobody can survive without food, so you really have to open yourself up and eat what the locals eat. Also, this is part of the experience, so you really need to go explore where the locals have their meals, just like how I was able to experience Indonesian cuisine in their roadside eateries. Remember, the best way to immerse in a foreign experience is through food, for eating is universal.
Don’t Just Survive, But Live
Studying abroad for a Master’s or Doctoral Degree may be harder than pursuing graduate studies here, but it will be worth it in the end, for it exposes you to new research connections and new friends. So, you really need to remember that surviving grad school abroad is only half the battle. You also need to remember to live, and enjoy the experience, since life is not about mere survival, but constructing stories and building relationships,which research always does.