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5 life changing lessons I learned from studying abroad


As I prepare to fly back home for half term, I look back on the semester and realise that packing up my life and moving to Budapest on my own to study for a year was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have had some of the most incredible months of my life, but most importantly I’ve learnt an awful lot about myself and the world in which we live in. Here are the life changing lessons I’ve learnt whilst studying abroad:

‘Normal’ is subjective

I’ve learnt that ‘normal’ isn’t really a thing. We are led to believe that our own culture is superior to another and the things we do within it are ‘normal’ but that’s far from the case. One of my flat mates put apple sauce on chips and I was completely shocked as this was just so unusual to me, but she was equally as shocked when I put marmite on toast. What I’m saying is we think that what we do in our day to day life is ‘normal’ when in reality nothing can really be considered as ‘normal’.


It’s ok to be scared

Even though this has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life, it’s also been one of the scariest. It’s safe to say I was absolutely terrified before moving here. I was moving to a new country on my own, with a new language and leaving all my friends and family behind. I was second guessing myself and I felt ashamed for feeling so scared as studying abroad had been something I’d always wanted to do. However, I learnt that there is nothing wrong with being afraid as it means that what you are about to do is incredibly brave!

Two girls studying abroad sitting on a ledge overlooking the city of Budapest.

Seize every opportunity

One of the most important things I’ve learnt whilst studying abroad is to seize every opportunity. Even the little things like going out for coffee with a stranger, going out clubbing before an 8am lecture (believe me it’s more painful than it sounds) has led to some of the best experiences and funniest memories I have had. It’s important to remember that everyone is just as nervous and in the same boat as you, so just go for every opportunity that is thrown at you because you never know where it may lead.


Cherish family time

Being away from home you think that everything will be the same when you get back, but it’s not. I learnt this recently after my dog passed away this week. Your life at home isn’t going to stop or slow down just because you aren’t there, and it’s so difficult knowing that things are going on and you can’t be there to provide any help or support. Just sitting anxiously looking at your phone waiting for news knowing that you are unable to do anything really isn’t the best feeling. So, whenever you are with family members always cherish that time you spend with them, because they will always be there to support you no matter what and you may never know when is the last time you get to see them.

A woman sitting on a bench near a river in Budapest.

Patience is key

Moving to Hungary has taught me the art of being patient. Back home going to the doctors, to the bank and doing the weekly food shop seemed like the simplest of tasks. But over here I’ve found myself having to constantly load google translate, spend ages reading labels in (poor) attempts of English translation and failing to speak and understand Hungarian. However, this has really taught me the power of patience and to just relax! Even though it may take time, everything will eventually sort itself out.

Has travel taught you some key life lessons? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…