Why You Should Study Abroad in College
More people regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they actually did. While there are certainly flaws to this statement, it tends to hold true when talking about studying abroad (and a few other instances pertaining to college).
I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you have already started planning a study abroad trip. For the rest of you, however, this post is here to convince that you should definitely do it.
The biggest issue standing in the way of most students when considering studying abroad is the cost of it. I’ll be honest: it is not cheap. But with help from financial aid, your institution, and some smart planning on your part, you can make it happen! Here’s why it is worth all that effort to study abroad in college.
Related: 101 Study Abroad Hacks
Expand Your World View
While it wasn’t a study abroad trip, I have traveled abroad even before coming to college. After my first trip to Honduras seven years ago, my world view was completely changed.
You don’t have to go to a third world country in order to have that experience, though. Even if you go to Europe or Australia, you will experience a new way of life and meet people that act in ways you might never expect.
It can be incredibly beneficial to you personally to have that experience.
Try Something New
Chances are your college town isn’t that far from your hometown. And if it is farther away from home than most, it probably still isn’t that big of a change for you.
Aside from now living on your own (which you probably aren’t really alone), you haven’t had the chance to change your lifestyle that much yet. Take this opportunity to get far, far away from home and step way out of your comfort zone to experience something completely new in your life.
You May Never Have This Chance Again
Some people are lucky enough to choose a career that sends them foreign countries on all-expenses-paid trips each year (or perhaps that’s why they chose it). But for most students, you will be working, living, and ultimately stuck in the U.S. your whole life.
Many of you will never have the chance to go abroad again because you won’t be able to afford it and have no reason to either, other than vacation. Now you do, which brings me to my next two points.
You Can Afford It
Like I mentioned at the start of the article, you can afford it if you work at it hard enough. First, you can pick a location on the cheaper end of the options. England tends to be one that is commonly less expensive, and you also don’t have to worry about any language barriers–other than some slang–so no extra foreign language classes are necessary.
Check out how your university deals with financial aid while you’re away. Chances are it will transfer at least partially, if not fully.
If you have to, get a job (if you don’t already have one) and save some of that money towards your trip.
You Have a Reason
It’s not called “study abroad” because you are laying on a beach or drinking in a bar for a semester–even if you do the latter anyways. You are taking classes for credit at your home institution and you are taking them in a whole new way.
Other countries don’t do higher education the same way we do. Not only are you going to be learning the concepts from your class like you would at home, you’re learning about a new culture at the same time.
You do have a reason to study abroad other than the reasons already mentioned here. Save some of your Gen Ed classes for study abroad semesters because those will be most likely to be offered abroad and transferrable back home as well.
Things to Think About While Studying Abroad
If you don’t know a foreign language, make sure your classes will be in English. Even if your country of choice isn’t English-speaking, they may still offer classes in English if their study abroad program is large enough.
Make sure your passport is up to date for entire time you’ll be gone. You don’t want to deal with customs while you’re there or on your way back.
When calculating costs, think about exchange rates. One dollar might buy a drink here, but it could take $3 to buy a drink somewhere else. It can also work in your favor, such as cost $5 for a McDonald’s meal here and only costing $3 somewhere else. It can get confusing, but you can easily screw yourself and not have enough money if you don’t take this into consideration.
Know how you will get around while abroad. You can’t take your car with you, so classes and your housing need to be close enough to walk or there needs to be reliable public transportation available.
Make plans for excursions outside the area you are staying. If you’re in Europe, take advantage of the many countries conveniently located near each other and visit as many as you can. Make the most of this opportunity.
The most important piece of advice I can offer anyone is to do your research. Make sure you know what needs to be done before, during and after studying abroad.
And finally, be sure to have fun. You may be taking classes and working on assignments, but live it up and enjoy the experience while you can!