There is a friend of mine. He has planned to move to the USA to study, which is going to take 5 years.

He is doubtful about whether he is going to have a good life being far from family (it's not easy at all, somehow impossible, to go for a visit or come back for a visit, due to the visa issues) to aim his professional life, or vice versa, whether he is going to be satisfied if he stays closer to family but loses opportunities, though.

I, as a so called best friend, have no experiences in this case, and am so ashamed about not being able to guide him and help him and seeing him so sad and under pressure.

How can I help him as a friend? What sort of help might he need in this situation?

  • Let me ask a few more questions: When is he leaving? Where is he coming from? Will he be able to make visits back home in between his studies? I have ideas for tips in an answer, but I really need to know these things before I can continue.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 3:31
  • @Zizouz212 as I mentioned visiting from here to there and there to here are quite impossible. -Iran -leaving in 1 year or 2.depends on university in here. plus, visiting once in 5 years is not gonna help. plus, one who goes to usa normally gets too much involved in bussiness or profession he would not want or can go back to Iran. as there are lots of people I see with same situation. plus, he stays there after studies for sure.
    – parvin
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 3:34
  • I'm going to try to write a bit of an answer focusing on how you can help his friend to prepare to leave. I don't want to address the other parts mostly because of how sensitive the situation can be.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 3:42

2 Answers 2


I would advise this person to take it one year at a time. Some people will complete a five year program, others may drop out after one, two or three years.

Or this person may even alternate years; one year in America, one year at home. to take care of both university and family commitments over ten years.

"You never know until you try," but the flip side of that is "don't be afraid to bail out if it isn't working out."

  • 1
    This will help him to not feel bad if he fails or want to come back home. Also, it's better to try and think about it after a few years than to decide in advance what would be good or not (without having an idea about how his life could be in the USA).
    – Shautieh
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 1:44
  • @Tom Au I agree with the sentiment - but is it realistic to expect to repeatedly go back and forth between Iran and USA? As a naive outsider I'd expect the whole "Muslim Ban" thing to complicate matters considerably. Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 11:07
  • @AllTheKingsHorses: You need to take the second paragraph in context with the other two. 1) What you said increases the chances of paragraph 3 "don't be afraid to bail out if it isn't working out. 2) A decision point might not be "only" one year, it could be two or three paragraph 1. (Four years is probably the point of no return.)
    – Tom Au
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 11:44

Encourage him to think about his long-term goals. For example, he can think about his hopes for what his life might be like in ten years:

  • Where does he want to be? (Which country? In the countryside? In a city? Near his family?)
  • Does he hope to be married? To a woman from his culture?
  • Does he hope to have children? Who share his language and culture?
  • Does he hope to achieve a certain professional status? (Such as a doctorate, or becoming a lawyer, or a medical doctor?)
  • Does he hope to own a home, land, and/or a business?

Then he should consider whether studying in the U.S. would help him achieve his goals, or whether it would make it harder for him to achieve his goals. There might be very few eligible women from his culture nearby in the United States; this might either cause him to marry outside his culture, or limit his options, or force him to delay getting married. Would an American degree be helpful for achieving the professional status he seeks, in the place he hopes to settle? An American education can be very expensive -- would student loan debt restrict his options?

Are there other ways that he can achieve his goals? Some topics are best studied in America, but others can be studied equally well (or even better) elsewhere.

Are there ways that he can mitigate the disadvantages of being in America? For example, he could ask his parents for some of their favorite recipes, so that he can cook them in America.

Please understand that these topics are not meant to "talk him out of" the idea of studying in the United States. Instead, they are about encouraging him to reach for his dreams.

  • In case you missed it, the poster mentioned in the comments that country in question is Iran.
    – user2191
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 19:13

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