It’s easy to go to TikTok and see countless international student documenting about their lives and journey as international student abroad from Canada to Australia. International students in Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand, and more are one of the trending TikTok keywords you’ll see in the app, which shows people are interested in becoming international students and looking for further information.
If you’re a Filipino, the international student trend is mainly catered to Filipinos since most migrants or permanent residents started as international students at the beginning. There are many pros and cons of watching international student videos on TikTok or YouTube; whether you find their videos entertaining or educational, you’ll learn much from this real-life scenario rather than just being a TikTok trend. Here are the top lessons you’ll learn from the international student life trend in TikTok you should not miss, especially if you’re planning on moving abroad as an international student as an OFW!
1. Money will be a huge issue
If you think international students are all fun and games, think again since you’re curious about the international TikTok trend! Many Filipinos or non-Filipinos who have taken this path know how expensive it can be, such as securing your visa requirements, paying your enrollment fees, buying plane tickets, the things you will need abroad, having a budget for your housing and transportation abroad, and more!
Being an international student means you must have much cash on hand and in the bank, enough to support your studies abroad, rain or shine! Living abroad is hard, especially if you’re new and have to budget your finances as a student. It’s safe to say, depends on the country you plan to study in and the program you want to enroll in. Your budget should always be more than just enough. It all depends on your financial capacity since money will determine your success as an international student.
There are many stories online or in real life where international students still need to finish their studies since they don’t have enough funds anymore or the costs of living are too expensive that doing part-time work is not enough. Before you plan to be an international student, you have to decide whether you’ll be a do-it-yourself (DIY) application or have an agency. Of course, getting an agency can be expensive but saves you a lot of time and energy, but if you want to be hands-on, save money, and research everything yourself, diy should be your route!
It’s essential to keep in mind that being an international student is expensive since you’re investing in many things such as high-quality education, better quality of life, paving the way for future generations, personal development, and more job opportunities for you! Many content creators will tell you what’s the rough estimate of the money you should have when being an international student abroad.
Keep in mind the countries that have a reputation for being expensive for international students, like the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada to name a few, while countries like Spain, Germany, Taiwan, and Norway as examples. You can’t go to battle without ammunition, which is why money can help you go far as an international student. If you plan to be one, it would be best to have relatives or family abroad to help ease the burden or check out numerous scholarship program offerings.
Many Filipinos can study abroad for free under a scholarship, and this can help a lot! One of the biggest mistakes aspiring international students make is loaning huge amount of money or selling their properties and risking it all, including their families, just to get there; that’s the last thing you want to do since it will cause more problems for your future prospects abroad!
Most people who can study abroad are well-off people whether celebrities or people who really have saved up a lot of money. Since studying abroad, you need to have money in the long run since a lot of things can happen while you’re there. During the pandemic, many international students suffered since they ran out of money, and their parents or families back home couldn’t send money to them; they resorted to food banks and cutting costs drastically just to survive!
2. Timing is crucial when applying and being an international student
Money is not the only thing that can make or break your prospects of being an international student but time also! There are many factors can work in your favor or not, depending on the type of visa you will apply for when studying abroad, age limit can be a huge factor!
If you already have a school or university in mind to apply for, you need to know when is the admission deadlines and submit the requirements on time since it can hinder your application if you’re late and most of the schools abroad takes time to review applications and accept student. Not to mention the processing, and waiting time when applying for visas or waiting for your student acceptance letter requires a lot of patience and a huge time frame!
It would be best a year or two to start your researching process and saving money if you plan to push through in being an international student so you have take your time in attending seminars or school conferences to help you decide on what school, country or date you’ll be attending! You don’t want to rush the process since you might forget any requirements that can hinder your visa or student application.
Another thing to consider is what intake you should enter, like in Canada summer season its because it has only 4 months, unlike the winter or fall has 8 months of study time which means in the summer less time to study, and the students will have to cram and the workload is heavier.
3. Respecting the law of the country is a must
Of course, anywhere you go, you have to respect the laws and policies of the country you’re visiting or will be taking residency in. If you’re an OFW who plans to be an international student, then you know how crucial this part is.
The last thing you want to do is to do illegal things that might get you deported and waste all of your efforts to be an international student. Many students are getting deported for not following the law or the limitations of their student permits or visa like not taking a full-time job if you’re a student or not tampering your pathway residency requirements and more!
As an international student you must be on your best behavior since one of the common reasons for deportation is visa violations such as not attending your indicated school or overstaying. If you need a part-time job it would be best to stay within your authorized hours or designation.
Other reasons for deportation or visa termination are failure to comply with academic requirements, not being enrolled or not financially capacitated to stay in the country. This is why money, having the right resources and taking the time to know the ins and out are important before becoming an international student.
4. Know what you’re entering before committing
There are many factors to consider before you become an international student, just like in marriage or making huge decisions in life, you must think about it many times! You have to consider your reasons on why you want to study abroad, is it because you want to experience a new ambience, gain more educational knowledge to hone your skills and go back home or eventually immigrate to that country.
Maybe you can consider other options aside from being an international student to migrate applying for other visas available or pathways if becoming an international student is not affordable. However if you’re firm in your decision to study abroad, you must know what are your goals in studying abroad, what course, what internships you plan to take and what universities are you looking for. Keep in mind that immigration officers will ask your educational and professional background, especially if the course you’re studying abroad is related to your career or undergrad studies.
Another factor to consider is what country do you plan to study or eventually migrate to and why? You must have a strong why and raise the pros and cons like cost of living and employment opportunities. It would be better to study abroad where you have relatives since they will be your support system and can help you settle there. You must do an intensive research on the country you plan to study from the culture to the climate.
Money is a huge factor to consider. Again, it is something you have to weigh since there’s a huge risk is you need to be financially equipped. If you plan to study abroad, you must consider taking IELTS or TOEFL classes to improve your language proficiency since most English-speaking countries require you to take these classes and have an IELTS test with a high score to be considered!
You also have to consider if you can easily adapt to new cultures easily and what your working knowledge about the country since you might experience culture shock once you get there. It all boils down to how far will you go in pursuing your goal to be an international student and making sure it all works together for good!
5. Mental health problems will arise
One of the common issues content creators raised in their videos on TikTok is the mental health problems they experienced as an international student. This is not in any form to discourage anyone from pursuing their studies abroad but to have an open conversation on mental health wellness and how making huge decisions can affect your well-being.
Most international students abroad opened up about feeling homesickness, anxiety, depression, and isolation, whether at the beginning of their international student journey or not. You must consider the hardships and struggles you will face as an international student and how you can cope up and staying on track of your studies.
Many international students are known died because of suicide due to mental stress from their studies or fear of disappointing their families back home, you must consider your strength and perseverance as a person if you plan to study abroad since its not for the faint of heart. Which is why it would be wise to be an international student where you already have family members to help and support you throughout your journey! If you’re having mental health issues, don’t be afraid to seek help, talk to someone and take care of yourself, since getting sick physically due to stress will make things worst!
6. The adjustment period can be tough
In the beginning the adjustment period can be challenging for anyone since the process of becoming an international student by the time you arrive in the country is just half the battle, the real journey starts when you attend classes and live there.
The adjustment period might take some time along with the culture shock but eventually, you will slowly but surely integrate and adapt into the city. You must consider having a healthy routine to help you on track and productive at the same time. During the adjustment period, give yourself grace and love since its not easy to take the leap of studying abroad and start anew but you managed to push through!
7. Independence will help you grow
Another common topic content creators shared about their international student journey is having the freedom to grow and be yourself, its high time to explore and know who you are as a person. Its like you’ve finally left the nest and its time for you to survive and see where life can take you.
There’s ups and downs to independence like realizing the things you’ve taken for granted back home, not seeing friends, but at the same time having your own space and pursuing your dreams to study abroad! Take it as a challenge and an opportunity to expand your horizons, meet new people, experience new things, and enjoy your life as a student!
8. You need to get part time jobs to support yourself financially
This is also a part of money will be an issue in your journey as an international student since depending on your student permit or visa, you can get part time jobs to support yourself financially or add some extra money to your allowances, if you’re a side hustler back in your hometown, its your time to shine!
Make sure you are capable of managing your time and priorities well since you don’t want to neglect your studies since you’re busy working, one of the top part time jobs international students has like on- campus jobs like teaching or research assistant or librarian, freelancing jobs like remote work of writing or graphic design, hospitality jobs like part-time jobs of servers, baristas or hotel staff. There are many part-time jobs you can take advantage of once as long as you have skills.
9. Visa problems are to be expected
There are many videos about visa problems of international students, and it’s for more than just content since these are real problems occurring offline you might want to consider these problems you might encounter, and it’s best to know what to do. You can either get your visa delayed or denied, which can cause a lot of anxiety and problems that can affect your educational journey.
You have to make sure that you have all of the requirements needed and you have the presence of mind when it comes to handling your affairs. Expiring visas are one of the everyday stressors of international students since they have to check updates about visa extensions or what are the new policies about it.
10. Culture shock will happen
Yes, you have to expect culture shocks once you arrive as an international student abroad, its important to manage your expectations before you arrive and to research intensively throughout the process of application. Culture shocks are normal since you come from a different country, and it might take a while to adjust, but you will soon adapt and settle once you’re there. Sometimes you just have to trust the process and have faith!
11. Relationships will be compromised
Yes, its not easy to maintain relationships back home since you’re now entering a long-distance relationship with them, whether romantically, platonic friends, or immediate family members. Since you will be busy with your new life abroad, trying to get settled and navigating the mundane and culture there, you will have a hard time in the beginning to communicate with them always.
Of course, when homesickness and loneliness strikes, you will talk to them always, but once you’re busy, that’s when the challenges will creeps in. Having an open communication, patience, and understanding will help you build a stronger relationship with your relationships back home, and you can also start new ones in your school or the city you’re currently living in.
12. Having a strong support system is important
Starting from scratch abroad, leaving your old career, lifestyle and family back home can be tough but know that you’re embarking on a new journey as an international student, and all of your sacrifices will be worth it!
If you’re thinking of furthering your educational background abroad, it would be beneficial for you to study in a country where you have relatives or closed friends you can trust to help you through highs and lows. It is not easy to study let alone manage your daily expenses and lifestyle but if you have someone by your side to guide you and help you settle as you start a new chapter of your life abroad, it would make all the difference and much easier for you.
13. Being stressed about studying
Studying abroad is not easy or glamorous as it looks like online; just like any post-graduate degree or higher education program, you need to dedicate your time to excel and maintain a good standing in your program since not having good attendance or failing your classes can affect your visa status in the country that you’re studying in. Exam season is one of the stressful time for students since they have to cram studying, do their part-time work if they have one, and take care of themselves independently.
One of the worst thing that might happen during exam season is getting sick from stress and eventually not being productive because of it. Again, being an international student means you need to be dedicated to what you’re studying but still manage to live your life exploring and making friends!
Many students online are vocal about the pressure, stress, and challenges they are facing while studying, so you better think twice and think hard if you’re cut out for it! When things gets tough in your studies, just keep in mind why you’re there on the first place, and just keep on moving forward! It’s normal for students to feel stressed when studying, but there are many ways to be destressed like eating ice cream as therapy, hanging out with new friends, talking with your loved ones back home, taking a nice hot shower, or sleeping to unwind.
14. Racism is not unlikely to happen
Once you arrive, it’s better to keep in mind that international students online are vocal about their experiences with racism or locals who are friendly to them but not to the point you can enter their circle, leaving them isolated and discriminated.
Not everyone has this experience but its important to consider the city or country you’re living in and how they are about hate crimes and racism, how open they are to diversity, and more since these little things can affect your studies, it is important to do your research and find a university or school that has a Filipino community or good reviews not just on campus but also the surrounding areas!