It’s my second week of living alone in Canada now, and although the semester has just started, I do have a few tips on how to survive your first week of studying abroad:
1. The first few days are going to be hard. It’s okay.
I came here knowing absolutely no one – I have no relatives living here, no friends, no anything. I had to skip some social events ran by my residence to attend some academic stuff, so even though I managed to start talking to my neighbours, I was still alone and lonely. It was my first time having to eat meals all by myself in the cafeteria, and if you know me in secondary school, the idea of eating alone is very stressful (though that actually never happened).
Slowly it gets better because there were campus wide events that put you into groups and you get to hang out with them for the whole day, and as a result, I get to meet a whole lot of people. And even though I still go to the cafeteria alone sometimes, I’d go and sit with people who are by themselves (there are always some in the caf) and strike up conversations.
2. Routines help
You’re not going to take a bath the same way you did at home – everything changes, including the routines you’re used to. To adapt to a new environment as soon as possible, try establishing routines. I find it really helpful to physically write them down, for example, in the morning I’d boil some water to make tea first, then I’d brush my teeth blahblahblah… I’d do my laundry every week on tuesday, clean my room on sunday, sleep at 11:15 and wake up at 8:15 etc.
3. Don’t judge
My residence has mixed-gender shared bathroom, and before I came here I was so upset and was regretting my choice so bad because I could only imagine the toilets being very dirty and gross, and everyone I talked to was like ‘seriously? why don’t they have separate bathrooms?’. However, now that I’m living here for 2 weeks already, I can say that it is very clean, and it’s completely opposite of what I’d imagine it to be. (You rarely see people in the bathroom since everyone has different schedules)
4. Spend time to explore the city before classes start to get stressful
You’ve got the chance to live in a different city now, so treasure it and go explore. Ask someone you know if they’d like to join you on a weekend adventure, or if you couldn’t find anyone, go on your own!
5. Go to different events and speak to strangers
Back in secondary school, I would definitely not go to any of the school activities if my friends are not going, but in university, you can just go and talk to a stranger – usually they’d include you in the conversation (because people are so friendly here) and it’s a good way to socialise and make friends!
You are stepping out of your comfort zone, so it’s totally fine if you’re feeling a bit lost – as cheesy as it sounds, life really begins at the end of your comfort zone 😀 I was totally not expecting all the challenges I’m facing right now – I thought I’d ‘just leave everything behind and start a new life in a different country’, ‘doesn’t matter if I have no friends there I’d just make some’ and ‘yes I’d finally be an independent adult and do the laundry on my own’, but no, it’s not like that (oops). You get to learn and grow a lot though, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯