Firsts are always special, as they say. That is why a child’s first words will always be special to its parents, a first job will always be special to a new graduate, and a first kiss will always be special to a couple.
Thanks to international education, students can also experience several firsts that they are not likely to forget. They may have already gained many firsts from the application process alone, but once they set foot in their new city, they’re surely in for more.
Listed below are some of the memorable firsts that students experience when studying abroad.
1. First time to commute/ride public transportation
Traveling is fun – whether it be in the metro or somewhere far away from the city lights. It can definitely be more fun if you immerse in your new country’s culture by commuting or riding in public transportation. What more when your school’s city or country has a unique mode of transportation?
Going from one place to another via public transport is a great way for an international student to be introduced to a country’s people and their customs. It can be scary at first, but it can also be exciting – and this is what makes it memorable. It can be a welcoming hug – all you have to do is hug it back.
2. First time to try the local cuisine
In every place that a person visits, it has been a custom to try the local cuisine. Being an international student is a ticket to devouring different kinds of food, including traditional dishes and street food staples. There are a lot of specialties to choose from–from sweet, savory, spicy, to exotic food and all of these will surely be a memorable first.
So don’t be afraid to try. Who knows, you may just discover your new favorite food!
3. First time to visit a museum or art gallery
Get to know local art spaces and appreciate a country’s history and art forms by visiting different museums and galleries in your ‘me’ time. You can definitely go beyond excelling in academic learning by experiencing your school country’s art and culture. After all, you are not just a student, but an international student who has been given a valuable opportunity to see more of the world and its people.
4. First time to explore a park
Before shopping malls, leisure parks have been a top destination for persons who love to walk, jog, or simply relax and feel the breeze. Countries have different kinds of outdoor spaces you can explore and enjoy, and the features of each would vary according to location, culture, and weather. Studying abroad allows you to step into these unfamiliar parks for the first time.
It could be your first time to picnic, kayak, stargaze, and feed fish in a park abroad, all on the same day.
5. First time to get lost
Getting lost can be one of two things: a huge hassle or an opportunity to wander. Sure, it can be scary for you as an international student who is new to the place, but it can also be a life-changing and memorable experience.
Elia Rathore, a writer who had experienced being an international student multiple times (she grew up in 10 different countries because of her diplomat parents), shares that she loves getting lost and that she’s trying to embrace and create detours.
“What are we missing when we only see what we want to see?” she muses. “Sometimes I get off the train at random stops, or I walk a different way home. For me, feeling lost is part of the journey.”
Being in an unfamiliar location – whether by accident or on purpose – gives you the chance to discover a place that may not even be on a map. What if there’s a cozy little bookshop within the area or an interesting restaurant just hiding around the corner, waiting to be found?