Whilst the experience of living and studying abroad can be a rich and fulfilling one, there are very good reasons why your stay should be a temporary one and not a permanent lifestyle choice. Here are six reasons why, after their course is over, that international students should go home.
Typically students who opt to study abroad are given short-term permission to stay in the host country under a student visa. However, these visas are for a limited duration. For example, it is five years in Australia, whilst, in the UK, it is the duration of the course plus a number of months’ grace after it has finished.
However, once a visa has expired, a student needs to return home or they are in breach of the law in which they are the temporary resident. If caught, they face being detained by the police and the potential risk of deportation.
And, even if they wanted to stay and work in their adoptive country after they have finished studying, there is no guarantee that they will be granted a work permit anyway.
The biggest market for international students, the US, is making it extremely difficult to obtain a green card, whilst the second largest in terms of student numbers, the UK, is also being far more restrictive in the light of the Brexit decision.
Lack of Cultural Adaptability
Whilst many overseas students initially relish the chance to experience studying and living in a foreign country, a number of them struggle to adapt to their temporary home and find themselves alienated from local culture or norms of behavior.
The obvious problem is language. If you are spending your entire day communicating in a language that is not your mother tongue, it can be very tiring and frustrating. It can also be isolating if you fail to understand local idioms or jokes, or people talk in an accent that is one with which you are not familiar.
However, it can be for a variety of other reasons as well – different religious beliefs and practices (or lack of them), sexual attitudes and behaviors, racial discrimination, or even the local food. Sometimes it is just easier to go home where you understand how things work, and how society works.
Those who intend to work, or want to carry on with their studies in their home country after a period abroad, always need to be mindful of application dates and deadlines. That includes not only employer induction and internment schemes, but also local graduate school programmes.
Overstay your welcome abroad, and you might be the critical window when it comes to applications for that year, meaning you have to wait another year until you can apply again.
In some highly-competitive countries, companies, or graduate schools, that can put you at a long-term competitive disadvantage and have a detrimental impact on your career prospects. It can also cause potential employers or graduate schools to look askance at subsequent applications, especially if the person concerned cannot demonstrate that they have used the subsequent year to enhance their skill set in some way.
Being an overseas student can be a very expensive undertaking. There are not only the course fees to cover, which, in the UK for example, can cost anything between £10,000 and £35,000 for a lecture-based undergraduate degree, annually. Then on top of that, you need to factor in the cost of accommodation, food, travel and living expenses, which can double the annual cost, especially in an expensive city like London.
Multiple that by three or four years – depending on the length of your degree – and you can be looking at a total outlay of nearly £200,000. You might be able to get a student loan to defer part of the cost, but it needs to be remembered, student loans need to be repaid, and it can take many years for the balance to be cleared as repayments are made.
Whilst their studies might be subsidized by their parents, having a child studying abroad can be very costly for them, and place a substantial financial burden on them, especially if they have several children.
And while students may be able to pick up part-time jobs to defray part of the cost, these are not always available, and there may be restrictions placed on them as a condition of their student visa as to the type of work that they can do, and the hours that they can work.
At some point then, the outflow of money needs to be staunched. Students need to come back home, where the cost of living may be lower, either to live at home for a while with their parents or to start looking for a job.
Family and friends
Not everybody wants to stay abroad. Many people miss their family and friends and want to return home so that they can be with them.
There may also be a feeling of social responsibility to their home nation which originally educated them, and may have had a role to play in them getting the chance to study abroad in the first place. Wanting to give “something back” to their own nation is not a sentiment which should be disparaged.
At the end of the day, there may simply be better opportunities for somebody who has studied abroad in their home rather than an adopted country. This is especially true for somebody who has studied a technical degree like engineering, or a vocational course like medicine.
In the country where they study, there may be thousands of graduates like them, competing for jobs where they, as foreigners, might be at a disadvantage.
By contrast, there may be much fewer people with those types of skills when they return home. Their experience and technical skills might be at a premium, meaning that they can expect better-paid jobs, faster career advancement, and the sort of opportunities that would never have been afforded to them if they had stayed overseas.