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?
Financial. 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