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Life Abroad

At first thought, the task of preparing to begin life away from home can seem daunting, if not overwhelming. Being surrounded by an unfamiliar culture, environment and social norms, while being away from family and friends, is something which more and more Chinese students experience in the quest to gain a western education.

With school courses drawing to a close, many students find themselves in the midst of preparing for further study abroad. As a foreign teacher, I often found myself being turned to for answers to help demystify the process and add moral support in many student decisions to journey overseas. Therefore, based on my experience, the following five steps may prove useful in assisting prospective overseas students in their preparations to study overseas.

Get to know your new home before you land in it

There is no substitute for good preparation. Arm yourself with background knowledge by researching information about the country you are going to. Learning about the history, culture, tradition, language and even details such as food, music, transport, weather and social activities of your new host country are all important. Thanks to the Internet, most of this can be found at the click of a button.

If you are fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a foreign native (from the country you wish to study in), be sure to ask them as many questions as possible on things such as good places to live, the cost of transport or important celebrations during the year. The information they provide would most likely not be published in any textbooks or tourist magazines.

Attitude is everything.

Don’t underestimate the power of the mind in determining how events turn out. Decide how to approach any situation, before you are placed in it. Positive thoughts about your new circumstances and a positive attitude toward your new home and hosts will bring positive results.

Alternately, many people set themselves up for failure simply by talking themselves out of success. Don’t sabotage your chances at being happy and successful in your future study and new life before they have even started. Maintain focus on one or two major goals (not too many) and work steadily and gradually towards these.

Pack using your head and your heart.

It’s not easy being practical when deciding what to pack and there is always that temptation to bring cherished personal belongings such as books, letters or fluffy toys. Whatever you bring, make sure that is will be something that you think might help your chances of succeeding.

This includes practical items such as study materials, old class notes, favorite textbooks or pens and even the contact details of previous teachers. It might also include some small luxuries such as study music or well-packaged snack foods. Items of sentimental value such as a flipbook with photographs of family and friends or a favorite item of clothing can help you feel closer to home.

Remember your roots.

Contact people you care about before and after. You are a person with feelings and relocating overseas is a big event. Talk to your close friends and family about your thoughts, dreams and fears for your new venture before you leave and make sure you keep in regular contact after you arrive and during your time away. Sharing the experience always halves any burdens and doubles the excitement of any achievements. Besides, with the ease and convenience of communicating via the Internet nowadays, there is no excuse not to keep in touch!

It is important to realize that while new and exciting things may be happening to you in your new environment, things and people back at home will also be changing. It is possible to feel isolated and experience “reverse culture shock” when you return home for a visit after an extended period of time away. The extent of this can be determined by such things as how involved you become in your new culture and how involved you stay in your original culture. Remember your roots, they are an important part of who you are.

Take opportunities as they come.

Learn from all experiences. Value both your achievements and disappointments as learning experiences that can be applied to future situations in life. Value all positive outcomes and more importantly, don’t take negative outcomes at face value. Instead, try to see the lessons in mistakes and turn them into opportunities for future improvement. Opportunities are present all the time, but often they go by unnoticed. Recognizing opportunities is a skill which anyone can learn through practice and patience.

In summary, travelling overseas is an amazing opportunity for personal growth, which not everyone has the chance, or the inclination to take part in. By no means should my advice be taken as the only way to do things. The beauty of learning through experience is that it proves that there is no right and wrong way, instead preparing you for the best personal way in which you can deal with issues as they arise. Still, I hope my suggestions will be of assistance to students (including previous ones of my own) who will study abroad from 2004 onward and I wish all the very best of success.

  海外生活全攻略

  很多中国学生一想到自己要出去接受西方教育,要远离家人和朋友,要投入到一个陌生的文化、社会环境和社会规范中去,总会觉得无所适从,很茫然。

  随着学校课程的逐渐结束,那些将要出国深造的学生们的准备工作也进行得如火如荼。我作为一名外国教师,经常有学生来问我关于留学程序上的问题,并希望我可以给予他们精神上的支持。因此,基于我的经验,我总结出以下五个步骤,并希望对有留学志向的学生有所裨益,能帮助他们更好地准备留学。

  到达新家前先了解它

  充分的准备是必不可少的。通过寻找你所要去国家的背景知识,将自己“武装”起来。学习东道国的历史、文化、传统、语言甚至如食物、音乐、交通、天气、社会活动等细节都是非常重要的。由于有了国际互联网,现在我们要找这些知识只需按一下鼠标就行了。

  如果你有幸认识一个外国人(一个你想要去留学的国家的人),请一定要向他请教你的所有疑问,例如适合居住的地方、交通费用或一年里的重要庆典等。他们提供的信息很有可能是教科书或旅游杂志里没有提到的。

  态度决定一切

  不要低估意志对事物的决定作用。在遇到各种突发境况前先想好处理方法。对新环境的乐观看法和对新家的积极态度会带来好的结果。

  同样的,很多人就是因为没想过自己能成功,而让自己和成功绝缘。因此对你还没有开始的海外留学生涯,你一定要心存乐观,保持快乐的心态,不要让成功的机会溜走。集中精力在一两个目标上(不要太多),循序渐进地朝着这些目标奋斗。

  收拾包裹时要心脑并用

  收拾包裹并不是件容易的事情,总会有想带一些私人珍藏的冲动,例如书本、信件或绒毛玩具等等。不论你带什么东西,请确保这些东西对你以后的成功会起到一定的帮助作用。

  这包括一些实用的东西,例如学习资料、以前的课堂笔记、喜爱的教科书或钢笔,甚至是以前教过你的老师们的详细通讯方式。这还包括一些小件的奢侈品,如学习音乐的东西或包装精美的零食。有情感价值的东西可以让你觉得离家不远,例如家人或朋友的相集或钟爱的衣服等物品。

  把根留住

  不时地与你所关心的人联系。你是一个有感情的人,而出国留学是一件大事情。在离开前向你的家人朋友倾诉你的想法、梦想和恐惧。并且确保在你到达后以及其后的时间都要与他们保持经常的联系。与他人分享你的经验会让你的痛苦减半,使你的快乐倍增。何况,现在通过互联网可以很方便容易地与人沟通,我们没有理由不和他人保持联系。

  有一件很重要的事情我们必须要意识到,那就是:当你在新环境里经历着新鲜刺激的事情时,故乡里的人和物也会发生变化。你很有可能感到被遗忘,并且当你经过一段时间后回国时可能会体验到“反文化冲击”。这种“反文化冲击”的程度取决于你融入他国文化的状况以及你对本国文化的保留程度。记住自己的根,它们是你自我归属感的一个重要组成部分。

  不失时机地把握机会

  在体验中汲取知识。把成就和失望都当成是在学经验,一种以后可以用得到的经验。重视所有的成功,但更重要的是,不要只看到失败的表面。尽量从失误中吸取教训,把它们变成以后成功的机会。机会无处不在,但经常在人们的忽略中消失。每个人都只能通过实践和忍耐来学会抓住机会的技巧。

  总而言之,出国留学对个人的成长来说是个不可多得的机会,不是每个人都有这种机会或有出国留学的意愿的。我的以上建议绝对不是唯一的行事指南。实践学习的美妙之处在于根本就没有对或错的方法,有的只有你最适合的方法,你得用你的方法面对任何的挑战。尽管如此,我希望我的建议能够对从2004年起准备出国留学的学生(包括我教过的学生)起到帮助作用。我希望他们一切顺利。

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