Adjusting to School in a Foreign Country

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Adjusting to School in a Foreign Country


Attending a school in another country requires dedication, commitment, perseverance and tolerance.  It is important for the student to realise that things will be different, the culture, the curriculum, the teaching and learning.

So before you decide to enroll at a school in a foreign country the following must be taken into consideration.

Leaving your family behind

Leaving your family behind and moving to a foreign country is one of the biggest adjustments.   Within a day you will become independent and will have to make your own decisions and take responsibility for your actions.  Independence is great but it has its challenges.  You will not experience absolute freedom because your new school and accommodation will have rules of their own, and many times the rules are more stringent.  Prepare yourself to become homesick.


Your immune system will have to adjust to a different climate which could cause a temporary relapse in your health.

Culture, beliefs, sexual orientation, religion and lifestyle

The acceptance and tolerance of different cultures, beliefs, religion and sexual orientation plays an important part in how well one adjusts to the culture/ethos of the school.   It is important for a student to hold on to their way of life but to be open to learn from one another.  Making new friends can become a challenge – peer pressure will be one of the challenges you will have to overcome as soon as possible otherwise your hopes and dreams might be shattered.

Dietary requirements

Every country has its own staple diet.   Your home cooked meal will differ from your mother’s cooking, that’s for sure.  In some countries or communities the food is often more, or less spicy.   You will never be completely satisfied with the food served, however make sure it is nutritional.

School day

Your school day will be extended.  Prepare yourself to stay longer at school.  It can become a challenge to adjust to a longer school day.  It is expected of you to remain focused for longer and the work load increases.

Teaching and learning programme

The teaching methodology, the curriculum and the minimum pass requirements will be different.  It will be expected of you to take greater responsibility for your education.  The teacher will be available for consultation and guidance but the ultimate achievement of your goals will be dependent on a sound work ethic and effective time management.


The language of learning and teaching will influence that pace at which we learn.  If it is a foreign language of learning and teaching then it will definitely slow down the speed at which you process information, and will result in an increase in anxiety.

It is strongly recommended that you attend a Language School if you are unable to speak, read and comprehend language of learning and teaching at your new school.

Excessive workload

There will be an increase in your homework, assignments and projects.  An extended school day means more homework, more assessments, more studying.  If you don’t have a strong work ethic you will find yourself losing focus of the purpose as to why you decided to study in a foreign country.  You will be introduced to new subjects and the syllabus of familiar subject will change.

Time zone

Adjusting to new time zones will affect your sleeping habits and the biological rhythm will be out of sync.  You will have problems sleeping at night.  The temperature of the room, the bedding and adjusting to a new mattress will add to your sleep deprivation.

It usually takes a student a minimum period of three month to partially adjust to a new country.   Therefore I recommend that you read as much information of the new country and school that you will be attending.


BY: Saleem Jackson

Principal at Abbotts College Claremont