Expectations vs Reality for International Students

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life

Before passing through the customs gate and lining up to get your seat on a plane, maybe you thought studying overseas would be all in pink, red and yellow colors. But, once you step out of the airport, challenges and hardships are ahead because you are living on your own now. Accommodation, jobs, making friends and finding love are four obstacles that you will have to seriously face despite all the colors.

1/ Shares Houses or Shared Rooms?

Expectations: You move to a share house or a shared apartment with other friends in order to save on living cost

Reality: You realise that your room is as big as Harry Potter’s room under the stairs.

My life studying in Australia

My life studying in Australia

Expectations: It’s going to be fun, since everyone will always share cooking, cleaning and party time fairly with each other

Reality: The next day you might find your bacon, your eggs or your leftover meal missing from the fridge


Or even your shampoo runs out quickly2310170442_4ed8ba26c2
2/ Getting a dream job?

Expectations: When watching television about studying overseas, university students tend to have part-time jobs in fast food restaurants, coffee shops or bars. giphy (16)

Reality: However, you need to pay a decent amount of money to be certified when working in bars, clubs or even cafes. Despite getting the certificate, you are required to have previous experience almost everywhere. And fast food restaurants turn out to be a good workplace only for international students under 18 years old.

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Expectations: You thought that getting a part time job within 40 hours of a fortnight restriction could pay for all of your expenses.

Reality: However, you might work even more than 40 hours every fortnight to get cash in hand. You might even be underpaid, but you don’t know it. Or you quietly acknowledge that you work underpaid without fighting for your rights because of misleading threats to your visa status from your boss or your agent. Because of your silence, instant noodles or cheap chicken drumsticks are your daily meals.

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3/ Making lots of local and international friends?

Expectations: You are so in love with Hollywood movies and imagine that when studying overseas, you will have lots of close friends from different countries.10429827_882734098408840_148202098892270080_n

Reality: There might be 20 different nationalities in one tutorial but people prefer to connect with those from the same background. University campuses are massive and the hustle speed moving from different lectures to tutorials is fast. Yet another barrier to your friend target.

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Then, you have to spend extra effort participating in different clubs and societies to get more friends. But you share more hardships, struggles and time together.


In the end, facebook, wechat, whatsup, viber or twitter are the platforms for you to meet new friends virtually or to reconnect with your old friends back home.

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4/Looking for MR.RIGHT or MRS.RIGHT?

Expectations: When you live overseas, you might suddenly fall in love with a stranger at the club, in a bar, in the park or even on the bus

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Reality: Entry to clubs and bars might cost you a fortune, and this is excluding the price of drinks and food. So you might just want to skip this option to meet your charming prince or hot queen.

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If your loved one is still in your hometown, the time differences or unbalanced lifestyle between love, study and work might causes stress. giphy (12)


Even though there are challenges, movies only show a small part of the picture. It is a story with an end. You, on the other hand, are still writing your story. It is always changing; that’s part of the excitement.

A belief in love will beat anything. Life is what you make of it.

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Last modified: April 3, 2016

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