Publish at May 10 2022 Updated May 16 2022

Daring to study in an expatriate context

Be sure of your project

Covid-19 has put obstacles in the way of human mobility. Good news ecologically but much less so for the travel industry, among others. Nevertheless, this global situation has not removed the desires for expatriation. French expats surveyed have by no means regretted their decision despite the more difficult context. While many plan to return to France, the majority (60%) will stay in their new home.

What motivates them so much to expatriate? Already, the curiosity to live in a different culture or to embark on an adventure joins many. Some do so to gain access to better socio-economic conditions. In this category are those who have had a professional development and students. The latter will look for more open environments than the Hexagon in relation to continuing education. Not to mention the sometimes more enticing remunerations in their sector of study.

Prepare your project

Of course, one does not embark on studies as an expatriate without having thought about it. What is it that you are looking for in terms of education? Is it a particular program that is unique or very rare in the world? Is it to train to eventually work in the country in question? Or to gain additional knowledge that will be appreciated in one's field? From this basic idea, it will be easier to see what type of training to take. Would it be full-time, face-to-face learning on a campus? Or rather online courses that allow you to take care of, among other things, the family?

It's best to choose study in a language that matches the language of the current or future work environment. Are you planning to stay in Poland? Then learning Polish and taking a course in this language will lead to better social integration. On the other hand, those wishing to return to France should select a course in French or at least in English. You should also think about the monetary issue. While some countries offer free education, many will require tuition fees. In the case of a France-Quebec connection, thanks to political agreements, expatriate students will pay roughly the same as Quebecers. On the other hand, others such as the United States or Great Britain are raising rates aggressively.

Preparing for the shock

An easy thing to forget with expatriation is culture shock. Indeed, no matter what the destination is, the expat finds himself in an environment that is not his own, perhaps even a foreign language, a different history, etc. Research would show five stages of this acclimatization period:

  1. Fascination: Everything is wonderful, everything is new, beautiful and exciting. A honeymoon phase that can be explained by the change in routine.
  2. Frustration:After a while, everyday troubles spoil the euphoria. Whether it is culinary differences, communication difficulties or dealing with local authorities, these things upset the person and lead to anger, dissatisfaction and a desire to return home.
  3. Acceptance: The expatriate eventually accepts all annoyances. He adapts to this reality, acquires a little more ease with the local culture and in discussions with others. The problems encountered no longer seem insurmountable.
  4. Satisfaction: The host country now feels like home. An attachment is created with the people and the surrounding environment. Friendships have developed and even romantic relationships.
  5. Nostalgia:This phase is experienced mostly by those who return to their native land. Surprisingly, this environment seems foreign because it has changed since the departure. While trying to get back to the life before, the individual is confronted with the reality that the loved ones have continued their existence and evolved without him/her.

To counteract this shock, it will be important to discuss the different feelings with other expatriate students, for example. Especially since this is facilitated by social networks. By exchanging, everyone will be able to help each other in their integration elsewhere. Also prepare by reading about the habits and customs, familiarizing yourself with the language spoken and knowing what steps to take. French diplomacy has written a guide for young people wanting to leave for a time to study or work abroad. Sites have specialized to inform future expats such as Expat Student in a French version or Le Petit Journal.

Finally, host countries too can offer services to ensure that the integration of expats is smooth. For example, the HEC Montreal community has been running a mentoring program since 2020. The idea is that other students can guide "preppies" through the institution, with administrative procedures, what is expected of them by professors, etc. By the way, they are a great help in explaining certain elements of life in the Quebec metropolis.

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References :

Aubry, Marc. "Why Expatriate To Canada To Study?" French Radar. Last updated November 16, 2021. "Coping With Cultural Shock While Studying Abroad." L'Etudiant. Last updated: November 26, 2021.

HEC Montreal. "Mentoring: One More Tool for Successful Integration." Last updated March 22, 2022.

"How to Manage Culture Shock." Expatica. Last updated: May 1, 2022.

"Le Guide Du Jeune Expat." France Diplomatie - Ministère De L'Europe Et Des Affaires étrangères. Last updated in March 2022.

"Why Do French Students Prefer To Expatriate To Start Their Careers?" Berlin Translate. Last updated: May 25, 2021.

"What Future For Expatriation?" Last updated August 2021.

"Resuming Your Studies While Expatriating." Femmexpat. Last updated: April 5, 2022.

"Getting Educated While Expatriated." Femmexpat. Last updated: November 30, 2021.

"Studying Abroad As an Expat." Expatica. Last updated: June 7, 2021.

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