Studying Abroad: A Survival Guide

Remember how I said I wanted to do more vlogging but wasn’t sure if I would ever get it done? Well, I finally got one out there.

Do ignore the dodgy selfie/thumbnail. I have yet to figure out how to make one so this is the best I can manage for the time being. I also apologise for the questionable audio quality. I don’t own a mic (I might get one at some point) and I sound like a dying goose falling down the stairs in real life so that’s really not a good start. DSLR audio combined with iMovie shenanigans was the best I could go about it.

Good news is if you don’t want to subject yourself to the horror, my ‘script’ of the vlog is at the bottom of this post so just scroll your way over there if you wish. It’s not a word-for-word transcription (I did a lot of improvising in the vlog), but all the main points are there.

Also in case you were wondering what finally got me back to this, it basically started from here:


And I figured, “Eh, might as well.” I do want get back into vlogging, so what better chance was there? So I entered.

And ten days later, I got this email.

If you can’t read that, it basically says that I’m part of the vlogger team now (don’t know anyone else who’s a part of it, though) and they’ve got plans for the future. So I gotta stay tuned.

And that was it—so far, anyway. While I’m not entirely sure what a ‘university vlogger’ is supposed to vlog about (student events, maybe?), I’m looking forward to it. It’ll probably mean I’ll have to go out more often, which is something I’ve been doing more of lately, but has never been the easiest. But we’ll see. Fingers crossed everything goes well.

(You’ll notice that the vlog was meant to be three minutes long and mine was eight? Well, I made a supercut version for . . . whoever was in charge of this, which was basically the exact same vlog but with 3/4 of it cut out.)

Anyway, have some transcript!

Hi, everyone. My name is Dev. I’m a second year, international, creative writing and publishing student and today I want to tell you eleven steps on how to survive your first year in university as an international student.

So, yes, I’m an international student. I’m from Indonesia, which means that I am sixteen hours away from home on a plane. So that might give you a rough idea of just how far I’ve literally had to come just to get to where I am today. The culture shock is real—it’s possibly one of the realest thing you’ll ever have to deal with as an international student. The transport’s different, the way of life, you’re miles and miles away from home, the food.

I remember coming in to campus for the first time for fresher’s week and I just thought “holy shit, what have I gotten myself into?” I have never felt so scared and nervous in my life. I didn’t know where anything was, I knew no one, and I wanted to run away. Like if a car or a train were to hit me at that moment, I would not complain. But eventually I met people, both from my courses and outside of it, I found myself doing things that I never thought I’d ever have the chance to, and it was amazing.

Of course, not everything has been smooth sailing, as with everything in life. I hit many bumps and made a shit ton of mistakes, but I’m still alive and that’s why I’m here making this video. So step number one!

  1. You’re going to get a lot of questions and comments about your international status. A lot of them are going to be repetitive and, while the attention is nice at first, it’s going to quickly become annoying and at some point you’re going to feel like punching someone in the face because of them. Don’t actually do that. Eventually, these questions will come to pass so the best way to go about it is to suck it up and deal with it for the time being. (Also, quick side note for locals: you may think that “your English is really good!” is a compliment, but trust me, it’s really not. If that’s the case, it probably means we’ve been speaking it our whole lives. So shhh.)
  2. Embrace the culture you’re stuck with, no matter how ridiculous or weird you think their way of life is. At least, some aspects of it.
  3. I found that imitation is the best way to go about anything. Literally, though. If you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing or how to go about anything because different cultures and shit, just look at the person next to you—or anyone nearby—and see what they’re doing. Then pray that you won’t look too much like an idiot.
  4. Get involved with the university. Join societies, volunteering programs, career opportunities, and befriend second and third year students (or, heck, post-graduates if you come across them). That way when you reach second year and beyond, you’ll already have connections.
  5. Play the international student card as often as you can. It may seem daunting, especially with all the preconceived notions and restrictions that come with it, but, trust me, with a few tweaks here and there, it will also open so many doors to opportunities you never considered possible.
  6. As with everything in life, when in doubt, just do it the way you would do your eyeliner—fucking wing that shit.
  7. Get to know your new hometown a little better. Visit all the tourist-y places or explore the more hidden areas. It probably has a lot more to offer than you think.
  8. Bring your ID with you at all times—you never know when you’re going to need it or when people are going to ask for it.
  9. You’re going to feel homesick, some days more than others. But that’s why Skype and group chats exist. You will also find that people love talking about how far away they are from home—even if it’s only a five-hour drive or train ride away. Don’t say anything about how you have to travel by plane to even see your loved ones. It’s not a competition. Missing someone is a perfectly normal thing to feel, no matter how far away they are.
  10. Always prioritise yourself before others—self-care and all that. Always give it your best shot, but don’t push yourself over your limit. You don’t have to force yourself to go out if you don’t want to. If you can’t attend a lecture because of your health, explain to whoever’s leading it what’s up. Ask for help when you need it—no one’s going to think you’re weak or stupid for doing so. Because at the end of the day, the only person who’ll be there for you is you.
  11. You’re going to be alright. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; there are people out there—be it in university, your friends—who are more than willing to help you. Give yourself a break every once in a while. And if you find yourself being overwhelmed, just breathe.

If you’ve made it this far into my post, then thank you for reading! Hope you found some of the advice useful. I’m thinking of writing a follow-up post for this because I got more advice, though it probably won’t be in vlog form because it takes too long. Let me know if you have any advice of your own or if you have any experience studying abroad and we can bond over that if you want!


p style=”text-align:justify;”>Until next time,
The DEVil herself 👹

(Side image taken from here)

4 Comments Add yours

  1. MJ Cobra says:


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dev. says:

      Thank you! ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 艾凯特 says:

    I just came back from studying abroad in China and totally relate with everything you mentioned – particularly the point about prioritising yourself and not taking on too much pressure/ stress 🙂 Studying abroad is a fantastic experience but can be quite overwhelming at times – good luck with your studies!


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