Studying Abroad – Is It For You?
Perhaps you’ve never left your home country. Or you traveled a long way to attend university, and now you’re endlessly curious for what else is out there. Maybe you’re a world traveler already, looking for a unique educational experience in another country.
Regardless of your position, studying abroad crosses every university student’s mind at some point. There are perks to studying in another country, but it’s also a huge and potentially life-changing commitment. Deciding relies strongly on your circumstances and personal feelings, but considering every angle can make the decision that much easier to make.
So, will traveling abroad suit you? Here are some factors to consider before you decide.
Your course of study
Some courses were made to travel for. International Relations, for example. At the heart of studying abroad is the desire to experience the culture of a new place, and to gain new knowledge that broadens your horizons and amplifies the subject you’ve chosen to study.
If you’re studying Art History, it may be appealing to observe the paintings that inspired art movements in Florence, Italy. If you’re studying Environmental Science, seeing the vibrant wildlife and colorful ocean ecosystems of Tanzania, Africa would be a valuable experience.
You could probably come up with a good reason to travel in any course of study, but some places offer more beneficial experiences than others. If you’re studying English Literature in England, there might not be a reason to travel outside the country. Be realistic with your course, and evaluate what you would get out of studying somewhere else.
People want to travel for different reasons. Some want to see the world, others want to learn new things, and some people just want to break out of their shell. While some people enjoy the challenge and uncertainty of living somewhere new for a few months, others project the idea of becoming a transformed, more confident version of themselves when they return to university.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but hoping to combat your social awkwardness isn’t a sole reason to study abroad. Self-improvement is a great cause for a life change, but be realistic and understand that there are many other factors to the experience of leaving home.
If you’re not ready to travel, don’t leave with the expectation of coming back as a person who is ready. The experience abroad will cause you to examine your beliefs, values, and identity. You will have to exist outside of your comfort zone for a long period of time. So understand what you’re getting yourself into. Research the program, and remember: just because you’re not ready now, doesn’t mean you won’t be prepared in the near future.
Most of the time traveling is more of a personal journey than a resume builder, and many students don’t realize the impact that studying abroad could have on their future career. Employers do take study abroad programs into consideration, and as it turns out it could be a game changer for your future employment.
Statistically, study abroad students are twice as likely to get employed in the year following graduation. Most students who study abroad also say that their experience helped them cultivate valuable skills for the job market and adapt to diverse work environments! You may be on the fence about it, or have to choose between going abroad or a job opportunity. So it’s important to remember how studying in another country can benefit your career as well as you!
Some alums of study abroad programs have also said that their experience traveling helped them to choose their career field. Others said that they felt more satisfied with their jobs after graduation. So if these are things you’re worried about, hopping on a plane could help you make those big decisions later in life.
And finally, the cost. Dropping a huge sum of money isn’t the most appealing idea to any university student. This doesn’t have to be the case. As it turns out, there are lots of ways to conquer the expenses of traveling abroad!
Most universities actually offer scholarships and grants for students who want to study abroad, they just don’t advertise it! And in addition to that, most schools don’t emphasize studying abroad at all, so many students feel like it’s not possible. Every school is different; research your own university’s policies on studying abroad, and know all your options before you make a final decision.
But of course, a ticket isn’t the only thing that costs money. If you do have the means to study abroad, take into account the expenses for transportation, meals, and other living costs. Your school may offer some of these things within the general price of traveling, but if not you’ll have to provide for yourself. Studying abroad can offer new experiences and open doors within your education and career, but it’s not worth it if you’ll be living off noodles in a foreign country. If your university has good, financially realistic programs, and you feel ready, why not go for it? Studying and exploring in an exciting new city can be an unforgettable experience, but only if it’s a realistic endeavor.
Kaity is a current student at the University of East London getting her Bachelors in English Literature. Originally from California, she is passionate about people, travel and education.
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