The Great Debate: Should You Study Abroad?

When you're given advice about college, taking the chance to study abroad tops the list of necessary adventures along with road trips, taking a course that is totally unrelated to your major and pulling an all-nighter. Studying abroad can be a truly amazing experience—you're immersed in a new culture, learning new things and meeting great people.

But there are several reasons to choose not to study abroad:

Academics. Most colleges and universities have allowed for full credit transfer, which eliminates that problem. But your major courses may not be offered abroad or, depending on your program, you may be required to take several courses that relate to the country you're in. Another issue is course load. Many programs limit the amount of courses you can take abroad in a single semester. If you normally take five or six classes as your home institution, you may only be allowed to take three or four. This leads to another problem –graduating on time. Is it worth studying abroad if it knocks you off your academic track?

Because more and more schools have their own study abroad programs, you can usually just pay your regular tuition to study abroad. But this often does not include transportation, visas, health insurance, entertainment and other miscellaneous expenses. Also, the cost of living in other countries (particularly in Europe) tend to be much more expensive than the United States. Your financial situation at your home institution is also something to consider. Before studying abroad you need to make sure that the financial aid and loans you're reliant on can be used in a foreign country.

Missing Out. I can't be the only one who adores living on campus. While abroad, you're going to miss out on all the events and happenings on campus, whether it is celebrating your friend's 21st birthday or attending football games. You'll also be removed from all of the extracurriculars you're involved in. Your sorority raised $3,000 for charity and you weren't a part of it—not the best feeling. Missing out on great career opportunities is another downside of studying abroad. Internships, practicum and job offerings are all pushed away when you're in a different country.

Culture Shock. Being thrown into a new culture can be a beautiful and exciting experience. But a lot of people can't assimilate well. They may have many misconceptions about their new country or don't understand customs. Language barrier is another potential problem. This can result in students feeling lonely, isolated and homesick.

Studying abroad is a major decision. Preparing to study abroad requires months of work. It is definitely not for everyone. Don't think that just because it is grouped in the typical list of the College Bucket List that you must do it. Personally, I know I won't. I have bigger priorities—namely graduating on time or early and interning.

Have you studied abroad? What was your experience? Any downsides? Please share your opinions and thoughts!

By: Lauren Sale | Image: Tumblr

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  1. I have to fully disagree on this article. I studied abroad and had the eat experience. Whatade it so great wad that I learned to be more independed, an I became much more rounded. I understand that you will miss what's at home, however you will e in a different country learning and doing gongs that you couldn't do at home. My mentor group went on some great trips, and had some great fundraisers. Was I upset that I missed out? A little but then, I said to myself I'm in Europe. I am eat if new things and meeting fantastic people. A few who can actually benefit in the field I want to go into after graduation.

    I for one believe everyone should go out and see the world. I learned different customs, learned new styles f fashion, met great people and got to do new things. With technology so advance I could call home via skype and stay in touch wig my family, friends and boyfriend. So I have absolutely no downsides.

    If you don't want to o for an entire semester you can easily take summer courses abroad where you are jere for only 2 months. As for class credits, my school for everything in and they can be difficult, but there are so many programs that have worke wig other schools and vice versa.

  2. Interesting post Lauren because it certainly isn't a popular opinion so I commend you for writing it. But I too have to completely disagree. I studied abroad, and yes it was expensive and yes, most of my courses didn't count towards my major. But I learned more about myself, international relations, different cultures, and life in general in the term I was away than I did during my entire college career otherwise. Most people will never have another chance to go abroad for so long and it's really an experience beyond what words can do justice. Travelling to other countries is cheaper when you're starting somewhere else, especially in Europe. I went to Dublin on a flight only costing 35 Euros! I went from having never left this continent to visitng most of the major cities in Eastern Europe and a few in Western too. I picked up some new language skills, faced my fear of heights on trip to Wales, met other students from all over the world, learned about European fashion and music, developed an understanding of European politics and economics, and made many new best friends who all became my new family. We even had a huge potluck Easter feast together that made it feel like being at home. I came back from abroad as a much stronger, more more confident, and more worldly person and my friends were right there for me when I got back (I also had several new ones I never would have met if it weren't through the study abroad program). Also, it is absolutely possible to do an internship abroad as long as you get the correct visa. Some places will even let you work while you are there if costs really are a problem. I have several friends who interned abroad and considering the increasing globalization of the business world, time spent working or studying abroad can actually help you to stand out in your job hunt. Lastly, regarding costs and scheduling, most people can easily work this out by planning and saving in advance. I have several friends that studied abroad and managed to graduate early and one friend that even studied abroad a year and half and was still on time. If, Lauren, you're still early enough into your college career that you could still fit in a study abroad, you should reconsider. It's quite possible doing so would be the best decision of your life and if you really do hate it.


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