The United States has a reputation for being home to some of the best medical schools in the world, but that doesn't mean you have to do your studying at home. Europe also has a lot of amazing schools to offer. They come with the perk of getting to study abroad, which is a major dream for many students. Studying abroad will be an experience you never forget, but it also comes with some challenges.
1. Handling the Language Barrier
Unless you happen to be good with languages or perhaps studied the native tongue beforehand, you'll likely be dealing with some communication issues. The fact that English is becoming the primary spoken language on the planet helps, but you still might run into trouble here and there. Try not to get frustrated. If you need help understanding something, ask your instructors or fellow students. It's better to ask a question and make sure you understand rather than getting behind.
2. Getting Used to the Culture
Chances are that you had an interest in the European country you'll be studying in before you applied to school there, but that doesn't mean you won't have to deal with some culture shock. Aside from learning a new language, getting used to a new currency and experiencing new food, you'll also have a bunch of new cultural customs to get used to. If you make a mistake and accidentally do something offensive, try not to be too hard on yourself. Use it as a learning experience. When in doubt, observe people around you to see how they behave.
3. Understanding the Different Systems
If you plan on remaining in the European country and becoming a citizen, you might not have to worry about this issue. If your goal is to move back to the United States and work in healthcare with your new degree, you'll need to be aware that you'll be working with a completely different system. Most European countries offer socialized healthcare, meaning that access to a doctor or hospital is free of charge for the individual citizen and instead paid for by taxes. The American healthcare system is for profit and therefore operates in a different manner. This isn't important if you're studying medicine itself. If you're going into healthcare administration, it's something to be aware of.
4. Teaching and Learning Styles
In the United States, most universities use seminars, group talks and other interactive teaching styles. In Europe, teachers might utilize slightly different methods. It depends on the school, but it's a good idea to go into things with an open mind, especially if you will be studying abroad after earning one or more degrees in the United States.
5. Dealing with Homesickness
Homesickness can strike at any time, and it often surprises people who never would have imagined themselves feeling that way. Living abroad can be amazing, but when things don't go your way, you might ache for the familiar faces and places back home. If you can afford a short visit home on vacations, it will definitely refresh you. If not, video chat services like Skype can help you feel connected to those you love most.
Whatever struggles you go through while studying abroad, it's important to know that everything will be okay. You're doing something special, and nothing great comes without challenges along the way. When you finish your schooling overseas, you will feel an intense sense of accomplishment along with all the pride over earning your healthcare degree. Those things are most certainly worth it.