13 Adulting Tips while Studying Abroad for International Students

From embracing the high dignity of labor to stocking up on Indian groceries, here are 13 tips to make adulting seem like a cakewalk while studying in Canada!

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Adulting tips for international students while studying abroad: been there, done that!

If you were raised on a binge diet of Bollywood like I was, perhaps your idea of studying abroad is heavily steeped in KJo’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham aesthetics: storming into the campus in a Red Lamborghini that resembles a Batmobile, then bursting into a song with 30 synchronized dancers miraculously appearing out of thin air.

And that bubble is set to burst sooner or later for anybody planning to go abroad to study because taking tips on adulting from Bollywood basically means setting yourself up for a glorious failure.

Time to Face the Reality

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While the silver screen projects adulting through a rose-tinted glass, the reality couldn’t be more far-fetched. Highlights of survival tips for students studying abroad include waking up without your mom’s alarming screech, attending lectures, acing a student job, learning how to cook, and basically being the man/woman of the house.

But let this laundry list not scare you. Hold on to the excitement of leaving mummy’s house rules and dad’s stringent curfew hours. Embrace the freedom of adulthood, but as they say, with great power or freedom, comes greater responsibility.

From my personal experience of studying in Canada, I can attest to the fact that adulting abroad as a student is an adventurous obstacle race, and you’ll emerge on the other side feeling like a victorious roadie!

To make your life a tad bit easy, here’s a handy guide to survival in the first year of studying abroad; especially in Canada.

The Great Landing

Credit Score

Believe me when I say that the first week will be replete with bank visits. Befriend the bank staff and learn all about how to maintain a good credit score, how to make the most of your credit points, and how the banking system works, download the App, and make yourself fluent with the features.

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Health Insurance

A close cousin of the banking system is health insurance. Try and find out as much as you can about the health insurance options you can avail of, the doctors in your network, and so on.

Sales and Discount

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Unlike in India, garage sales and thrift stores are viable options abroad. Just be patient while you examine the pieces. And remember to never choose mattresses, bed linens, or couches from these sales. Bed bugs are a reality, and they can render you homeless if you aren’t careful.

Countering Homesickness

In the first week of setting up your house, put up some photographs of your friends and family in your room to counter sudden bouts of homesickness. Empty walls can bring down your spirits.

Day-to-Day Adulting 101

Daily Chores

Warm up to routine and discipline: Have designated days for laundry and grocery shopping. This will not only give structure to your week but will ensure you never run out of food or clean clothing.

Student ID

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Don’t underestimate the power of your student ID card. Often, there are student discounts at cafés, restaurants, and movies as well as free entries to museums and galleries with the card. Keep it on you always.

Student Community

And while you’re at it, also sign up yourself for various clubs and organizations on campus. They often organize weekly trips to local touristy spots for way cheaper than the regular tickets. Chances are, you’ll also make friends faster this way.

Part-Time Job

The dignity of labor is high on foreign shores. While you may think twice before becoming a barista at your neighborhood CCD or becoming a sandwich artist at Subway in India, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how things are different overseas when it comes to jobs. Take up whatever student job is available in the first month, even if it means scrubbing toilets at Starbucks. I was collecting cash at the closest McDonalds to my house. It will keep the money flowing in while you keep looking for something else on the side.

Comfy and Reliable Shoes

Invest in a sturdy pair of walking shoes. In your first week abroad, you’ll realize how seamless and easy public transport is, and how you can save a lot of dollars just by walking the extra mile. In a bid to keep yourself fit as well as your bank account healthy, buy a good pair of walking or running shoes that will take you to places on a budget.

PS: Download the transit apps as well as have the local city maps posted on your desk as well as a refrigerator to improve your sense of geography in the new country.

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Cooking up a Storm

You’re not alone if you didn’t pay attention to mom’s 20,000 reminders to start entering the kitchen and learning the A,B,Cs of cooking. And soon into your second week, after you exhaust all the food supplies you had carried with you, the only way to get some ghar ka khaana is either DIY or buy it at obscene rates from Indian restaurants.

Discounted Groceries and Food Items

An important hack is to always shop post 6:30 PM. You’ll find some gems in the reduction section but stick to a weekly menu. Also, cooking with your flatmates can be a more engaging and exciting process. While you split the costs, you double the dishes. It’s a win-win for all.

Bulk Buying

Buy basics like potatoes and onions in bulk; you’ll be surprised how long they stay fresh in cold climates.

Cooking, as you’ll realize, is the single most important life skill as you hop on to the adulting cruise. And once you ace that skill, adulting as you’ll see becomes way easier to tame than the world makes it sound.

Enjoy the Phase

The most important cheat code is to enjoy the process, although it may be filled with roadblocks and potholes. Just remember, if you could survive all the potholes back home, you’ll not be fazed by the potholed adulting poses for you in a foreign land.

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Arundhati Chatterjee
Arundhati has worked as a journalist for over seven years. As a freelance journalist, she had regularly written for magazines and websites such as Elle India, Hindustan Times, T2Online, and Wisden India. Arundhati did her Bachelor's in Mass Media & Advertising from the University of Mumbai and PG Diploma in Professional Writing and Communications from Humber College (Canada).
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