Minus the Gram and Glam: The truth about leaving home and living abroad

By Zaninka Umutesi
On 13 December 2022 at 11:26

Many young people express their desire to leave their country to study abroad expecting different benefits. Some of them have strong belief that most employers take in consideration a person who studied abroad hoping they will add an international touch to their work.

With this promise of a brighter future, the excitement to travel and gain new experiences, meet new people, all this can look good until you actually start living this life.

The reality is that a person’s responsibilities increase, and the individual is required to mature fast to be able to handle the new changes in their life, or suffer the consequences.

With the influence of social media, living abroad can look enticing, and exciting.

The different people and places, the various means of transportation, the new culture, and more can make it look as though the people studying abroad are living their best life.

However, there are a number of posts, blogs that contradict this glamorous life.

Language barrier is the first concern for anyone moving to a foreign country.

A person can take between three months to two years to be able to speak, understand and write a language.

We don’t all have the same capacity to learn, especially when it comes to languages, it is easier for some than others.

It would be ideal to find yourself studying in a place where you already know the language, but that is not a luxury that we can all have.

At times even when you already know the language, but the accent is different and still face the same problem of miscommunication and being regarded as a stranger.

Jayne Tuyisiime is a student from Uganda pursuing studies at Mount Kenya University Rwanda .

Tuyisiime says that even after three years of living in Rwanda, she still struggles with writing in Kinyarwanda but is more confident to speak it.

She tells IGIHE, that when she came to Rwanda, she could comprehend only a few words.

Tuyisiime continues to say that people who heard her speak in Kinyarwanda would assume she was fluent and would try to have friendly conversations with her, to which she would neither understand nor be able to respond to.

"People would try to talk to me and when I did not respond they would think I was ignoring them and consider me arrogant," says Tuyisiime.

After a year and a half of struggling with the language, with the help of her colleague, friends and neighbors; Tuyisiime is now able to form complete sentences in Kinyarwanda confidently.

Most of the young people studying abroad will tell you that once the excitement wears off and you start looking at your new reality, life starts looking terrifying and you start missing home.

Depression and anxiety are some of the things that can occur during these new life changes, these are the results of homesickness, culture shock and more.

Feeling like a failure anytime they encounter a challenge in class or with their classmates and lecturers especially they start comparing the education system they are in versus the one from their home country.

Some people will feel guilty anytime they remember the amount of money their parents or guardians spent to send them abroad.

This can make them develop a sense of unworthiness and rob them of the ability of dealing with failure, and instead have them beating themselves up anytime they encounter a setback in life.

Without parents or guardians checking on you every 24/7, an individual decides how to spend their days.

We do not deal with the pressures of life at the same speed or in the same way, some will work hard and for some it is easier to give in to defeat and find other ways to deal with the changes.

Ishimwe Wilson is a young Rwandan, currently studying in Poland.

His parents sent him to study in Poland, so he could learn to take care of himself and be more responsible financially and learn how to manage his time.

Ishimwe says that when he was living with his parents, all he had to do was eat, shower, study and sleep but now that is only the beginning of the rest of his day.

During a conversation via Whatsapp, he tells IGIHE that he now learnt to do his own cooking, an activity that was once alien to him but is now one of his favorites.

He learnt to wash and iron his clothes, make time to go to class and keep up with a system he is not used to.

Ishimwe says, he does all this while keeping track of how he uses the allowance his parents send.

This has however encouraged him to find work and make extra money and reduce the amount his parents would usually give him per month.

With over 5 thousand followers on one of his social media accounts, Ishimwe holds that glamorous international student life.

Various locations, a new outfit with every post, giving off an image that he is always out and about having fun which is not completely wrong but he also purposely dismisses the pictures of him waking up at 5 in the morning to get himself ready and catch the bus on time.

Most of us go by people’s social media and assume that the life portrayed in posts is reality.

Ishimwe and Jayne had a few things in common. They are grateful that their parents trusted them enough to send them alone to foreign countries.

They seem to be more confident in the different languages commonly used in the countries they are living in.

They have learnt how to deal with people, start a new life, and make a home away from home.

Many young people express their desire to leave their country to study abroad expecting different benefits. Net Photo