9 factors international students consider when choosing to study abroad

International students abroad


International students exist in almost every university around the globe. Especially, countries like the United States, Australia, UK, Canada, China, Japan, India and Germany that attract thousands of international students every year in both undergraduate and graduate level. So, what’s going through the head of international students before their arrival at the host university where they will live and study at?
Through this practical guide we will go through and highlight the factors the international students take into account before leaving their home country to study in a public or private university or college abroad.

Hope you enjoy it!

1. University reputation
“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit and lost without deserving”
William Shakespeare, British poet, playwright and actor

Prestigious universities attract many international students every year. Sometimes, the competition among students is fierce, as the acceptance rate of some educational institutions is quite low so international students consider this is as an indicator of high-quality education and excellent academic background after graduation. Moreover, the reputation of the university includes other factors like world university rankings, researches and initiatives taken by the university to benefit the local community, and the country where the university is based in.

2. University tuition fees
“Studying is something I really love doing, and I just hope to have enough money for tuition”
Alexandra Kosteniuk, Russian former Women’s Chess Champion

“Money matters” play a crucial role at the selection of a university for the majority of international students, as the tuition fees for international students in some universities are relatively high and sometimes not affordable, even for wealthy families. That’s why many universities have a variety of scholarships or financial aid programs-loans, and tuition waivers-available to help incentivize students to make the decision to study abroad.

3. Safety
“You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended. You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.”
Sun Tzu, Military general, strategist and philosopher

Crime rates and public safety indicators in college towns or cities where universities are based are one of the factors that students take into consideration when it comes to safety while studying abroad. No student wants to get victimized or harmed by getting involved in criminal actions caused by third persons.
Parents especially are concerned about this issue since their child/children can put themselves in serious risks when they study in towns or cities where criminal actions occur very often or when the local community, university, and police are not able to take actions in order to prevent them.

4. Diversity
“Real cultural diversity results from the interchange of ideas, products, influences, not from the insular development of a single national style”
Tyler Cowen, American economist, academic and writer

International students consider the factor of diversity in the universities they apply for. “How many international students study in my university or what’s the percentage of international students here”, are two of the most common questions that international students ask the university advisors or look for on universities’ websites. It’s true that these students feel supported or welcomed by knowing there are other internationals who left their home countries for studies as they did, invested time, money & energy leaving behind the lives and comforts they had in their home countries and took similar risks by beginning a new life from scratch.

5. Job opportunities while studying
“Stay hungry, stay foolish”
Steve Jobs, American entrepreneur, marketer and inventor

International students trying to cover living expenses, tuition fees and other costs that may come up while abroad, in many cases seek to find job vacancies with flexible shifts in order for them to be in a position to work in parallel with their studies. Moreover, there are international students who pursue to gain practical experience in the subject of their interest or other major-related jobs by looking for major-related job openings.
In any case, international students are encouraged to apply for a job in parallel with their studies since the benefits they acquire are much more than just economic.

6. Second language fluency
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his mind. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”
Nelson Mandela, African anti-apartheid revolutionary politician and philanthropist

Most students who decide to cross their nation’s borders in order to study in foreign educational institutions have language barriers since they are not able to speak their native languages. Students may overcome these barriers by practising their foreign language skills on a regular basis with their classmates and teachers, by committing themselves in projects and presentations and by in-class participation. In this way international students are not only competitive students taking fairly high grades but also they get connected with native speakers and the local community of the country they live & study in.

7. Networking
My Golden Rule of Networking is simple: Don’t keep score”
Harvey Mackay, American entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author

International students participate in social events thrown by the university or student organizations in order to meet and interact with people coming from all over the world expanding in this way, their network of people they get in touch with. Furthermore, they are in a position to build strong relationships with people who have similar experiences and also to build bridges with others that they don’t have so much in common with.

8. Student life and involvement
“The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte.”
Vera Nazarian, Armenian-Russian writer

Student life is another factor that international students take into account before applying for a university abroad. International students are interested in getting involved and actively participate in student associations related to their majors, athletic teams and other groups (i.e. student government/council, student & university advocates etc.) pursuing not only to explore and enjoy diverse aspects of their student life but also to apply the experiences and influences they carry proving their ability and willingness to make an impact contributing in the development of the teams & groups they are members of.

9. Entertainment
“Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either”
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and public intellectual

As I said before, student life is not all about studies. Students feel the need to hang out with peers, to have fun and interact with people off-campus, to attend performances, go shopping, to stroll downtown or arrange short trips to other cities using public means of transport, trains or by renting a car. We should keep in mind that students feel relaxed when entertain themselves, chill and spend time with friends, practice activities they love and in general escape from an ordinary life which encompasses homework or projects.


Thirty Over Thirty

If you have been following us at Unbelievably, then you know that we are a University of Montana classroom full of young bucks and does. There has not been a poll, but I would be willing to bet that the mean age is around 24 years. Allow me to take this opportunity, as the token “old” person, to clue you in to a few things that may be coming your way as you get older.

Thirty after Thirty


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After 30,everything hurts more. From stubbing your toes, to working out at the gym, you will just hurt more. You will get used to it, trust me.

After 30, it will be harder to maintain your weight. The foods you enjoy the most will now cling to your sides, like a child clinging to its mother. You will either have to work harder to lose it, or accept your new, fluffier self.

After 30, sleep will take precedence above going out. There will still be times you like to go out, but it won’t be the production it used to be. In the cost/benefit analysis, sleep will almost always beat anything else. When you do go out, it will be fun to look around and try to figure out if you are the oldest person there.

After 30, college is more difficult. Your future self is thanking you for getting this over with right now. When you are an older student, you are plagued by the constant references make by instructors who are younger than you about your generation. No, my generation was the tail end of Generation X, not the tech-savvy, self-entitled one so often referenced in the media. Some professors will patronize you with “life lessons” that you learned ten years ago. Especially the “life’s not fair” lesson.

After 30, it will become difficult to relate to people who are twenty-five or younger. You won’t watch the same shows, know the same songs, or use the same social media outlet. I love being around people that age, but small talk is almost impossible. Heck, I still watch Seinfeld. I still say “heck.

After 30, you are expected by society to be at a certain place in your life. If you are not, you will be judged harshly. Not married? No kids? Don’t own your own house? Don’t have an “adult” job, free of name tags and hair-nets? You will be judged as a person who is immature and cannot handle responsibility, not a person free of the demands of modern materialism.


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After 30, birthdays are just silly. Honestly, I can’t remember the last birthday present I ever got. I usually just look for who remembered me on Facebook, and fill up a growler or two.

After 30, you will struggle to keep up with trends in everything. You are no longer the demographic of choice, because you no longer have the highest lifetime value. Ads are not pointed at you, and it is just too much effort to keep up with all the new music, hairstyles, cultural trends, and hot new phrases. At your age, you have enough to remember.

After 30, there are rules. No more tattoos, no more spiked hair, and remember, certain outfits are no longer appropriate at your age. No more tank tops for you fellas, and for you ladies, no more miniskirts.

After 30, you will not have the same number of friends you have now. Everyone is just too busy for you. You will settle for few, carefully-planned visits with people you really care about, people who are worthy of your time and are who are loyal.

After 30, the personality you have is stable. This is what you have to work with, like it or not. It becomes more difficult to change, and you grow to find comfort in habits and routines. This includes beliefs. It is a good idea to challenge them from time to time, to see if you really are on the ethical path.

After 30, you will see the things you loved as a kid, and what you were into as a teen, get rebooted as something “retro” or “classic.” I saw a girl wearing a hoodie with the number “1979” on it. The year I was born. I still don’t understand why anyone wears clothing with dates on it. You will see all your favorite toys, shows, and movies reappear as new movies, toys, and t-shirts. You will cringe the first time you hear your favorite song from freshman year on the “oldies” station.

Big Wheels

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After 30, if you are still lucky enough to have your grandparents alive and well, you will be in the minority. This is the beginning of the losses you will have in your life, for most of you. I won’t tell you to get used to it, because you won’t. I lost my last grandparent almost twenty years ago, and I still think of her every day.

After 30, your body will not work the same way. You will be slower, you won’t be able to learn things as quickly, and will sometimes even feel betrayed. It might be helpful to re-interpret your body as something to take care of, put the correct fuel into, and accept its imperfections. Appreciate all the amazing things it can do, and above all, recognize that only 150 years ago, people usually only made it to 49 years old.

After 30, you will notice, ahem, physical changes. Spider veins, cellulite, gray hair, losing hair, hair in unexpected places, and painful joints. You won’t be able to tolerate temperature changes as easily, and you won’t have the stamina you used to have. There will be wrinkles. Sun spots will appear for those who tan. Try to accept it. You can’t really stop it. Take a good look at your parents, because you will probably age the same way that they do.

After 30, you realize that time is limited. You begin to waste it less, and value it more. Human perception of time speeds as age increases. Time will literally just fly by.

After 30, you will realize just how annoying you were at 16. The things you thought were so cool really aren’t. Never watch your favorite show you liked as a teen, because it will be forever ruined. Nothing is more uncomfortable than watching Saved By The Bell for me. Why did I think it was so funny?


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After 30, you realize just how cool your parents are. You appreciate who they are and what they have done for you. Their annoying behaviors will become funny stories you can bank for later recollections. You might even get a little teary-eyed when you see older photos of them, before they had the glasses and gray hair, before they joined AARP.

After 30, you will have different perspectives on what the younger stages of your life were like. You will begin to glorify them. You will re-imagine “good ‘ol days”, leaving out the bad parts. When I catch myself doing this, I just remember that they may have been good ‘ol days for me, but only because I was six and unaware of the situation. They weren’t good ‘ol days for my folks.

After 30, you will assume that people in their twenties don’t know what they are talking about. It is important to remember that these are people who deserve respect. They may talk about things they don’t know about, but you did that then, didn’t you? Maybe you should listen once in a while, you could learn something from them, in between all the “actually’s” and “likes.”

After 30, you will look in the mirror and see your mom or dad. You will hear their voices when you speak. You will even have some of the same mannerisms and quirks.

After 30, you will prefer quiet over noise. It is easier to sleep when it’s quiet.


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After 30, you will see the value in not always having the last word in arguments. Maybe.

After 30, especially for you ladies, you need to think about what your plans are in the realm of children. Don’t be pressured into having them just to appease some family member. Also, do not get married for that reason. It is time to be honest and realistic with yourself. That “someday” you talked about as a twenty-something has a limited shelf-life.

After 30, it hits you that in ten years, you are a legally protected status. No one can discriminate against you based on age at 40 and older, according to federal law. (In Montana, though, no one can ever discriminate based on age, young or old.)

After 30, the carnival rides aren’t so fun anymore.


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After 30, the things that you thought were boring when you were younger are nice and relaxing

After 30, you will worry more about cancer. You will have known someone who has it by this time, and it is no longer something that can’t happen to you.

After 30, you will adore your siblings. Your differences will be something that makes you smile to yourself.

After 30, you still won’t grow out of that feeling, every once in a while, that you are alone in the universe, no one understands you, and you are a social misfit.There will still be times that you will say something that would have been witty ten years ago, but isn’t anymore, followed by an eye roll and an obvious echo. But now that you are 30, you let it go and don’t waste energy on getting upset about it. Waste not, want not.

This won’t be true for everyone. Maybe your generation will figure out how to get rid of grays or wrinkles, or be brave enough to continue getting tattoos. This is just my experience as a person of 35 years, taking this class with you all. Thanks for being a part of my learning experience, and I wish all of you the best for your future!


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