You’ve been working hard on your college or job application for months. After several rounds of interviews and tests, you’ve made it! The offer or acceptance letter is here. You’re moving abroad. You’re ecstatic. And then immediately anxious. Moving countries to work or study is a huge undertaking. People are often so overwhelmed that they procrastinate until they’re behind on everything, and then it becomes an even bigger worry. YouTuber and civil engineer Parth Vijayvergiya, who is from Jaipur and did his masters from Purdue University in the US, is now a study abroad expert and helps hundreds of students navigate the unknown as they step into a new country. He spoke to us recently about the four big things you need to focus on while preparing yourself for this big step.
Figure Out Accommodation Before Anything Else
Parth says, “If you're going to the US, it's such a big country that your requirements will change depending on which state you are moving to. You could be going to San Francisco where it does not snow but it’s still cold and cloudy. You could be going to Chicago where the summer is amazing but winters are windy and cold. Or you could be coming to Texas where it’s really hot and humid. And if you are coming to New York from a big Indian city like Mumbai or Delhi, you will feel right at home.”
So the first step should be to figure out your accommodation. If you are moving for education or work, getting a house or apartment closer to your university or office will help you keep your sanity. Commutes can be long and frustrating in a car-first country. So, once you have figured out this big piece of the puzzle, other things will start to fall into place.
Budgeting Is Essential
Parth explains, “This is how I have improved my personal budget over the last five years of living in a capitalist country. I first divide the cost into fixed cost and variable cost. Fixed cost would be something I need to pay every month and is inevitable, like rent, utilities (Wi-Fi, electricity, water), health insurance and any subscription services. Variables costs would be something which varies every month. This could include groceries, eating out, or travel.”
If you divide your salary or budget into these two categories, it will help you get a full picture of your expenses and how much you can save yearly. If you are a student with education loans, budgeting will keep you in check and stop you from over-spending often.
Prepare Yourself For The Culture Shock
“I’m sure most people have watched either FRIENDS or Breaking Bad or at least one American show. Shows like FRIENDS, while an exaggeration, can help us understand how people live in the US,” he says. But be prepared for these three major cultural changes:
- Small talk - When you’re running errands in India, you never ask the shopkeeper how their family is doing unless you have known them for a long time. In the US, however, people are open to having personal conversations with strangers or people they meet on their way to work.
- Calling everyone by their name - We call older people uncle, aunty, sir, bhaiya, didi, etc. But in the West, you call people by their first name. This can initially be difficult to digest.
- Culture Openness - You can wear anything, anywhere. If you walk around New York in a Mickey Mouse costume, people won’t even notice you. You can live your life however you want and ignore everyone else’s opinion of it. It’s liberating but also takes a little getting used to.
Dealing With Homesickness
Homesickness is inevitable, but there are a few things that can help. Parth advises, “Always carry some pictures of your family to the new country. Another thing which really helps with homesickness is food. Whenever you feel homesick, either make some Indian food or get some Indian food.” Another pro tip is to go out and make friends as much as possible, because having people around makes everything more doable.
It's inevitable that people will make mistakes and stumble, because moving abroad is a huge undertaking. When you move, everything seems to be working against you, from dollar prices to new rules to not having family and friends around. But keep your eye on the ball. Parth shares a personal mantra. “Looking forward to growth and remembering why you are doing this makes a huge difference. Remembering your parents’ struggle will keep you going. My goal in life has always been to be so successful that my family always travels business class. So, set a goal for yourself and don’t stop until you get it,” he says.
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