Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, but it’s important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages before you decide and complete your college application. The decision to study abroad may seem like an easy one, but is it right for you?
There are many important things to consider before deciding if you should study abroad, but let’s start by looking at the pros and cons.
Pros of studying abroad
- Broaden your thinking: When you immerse yourself in a new culture, it exposes you to new perspectives, foreign foods, and life-changing experiences
- Make lifelong connections: You can make deep connections with other students
- Get a competitive edge: Being able to include studying abroad on your CV can enhance your career prospects
- Build language skills: You’ll have the opportunity to build your foreign language skills and improve your fluency
- Step out of your comfort zone:
Cons of studying abroad
- Expenses: the cost of studying abroad can sometimes be high
- Language barriers: If you’re not fluent in the local language, there might be language barriers
- Culture shock: The differences in social norms and practices may be a culture shock
- Homesickness: You might get homesick, especially if it’s your first time living away from home
- Re-integration: Re-integrating back into your home culture can be challenging
Deciding which country is the best to study abroad
One of the first decisions you’ll face is where to study. There are many factors to consider, including language and distance from family. To help you decide, here are some questions to ask yourself.
How far do you want to be from loved ones?
For many study-abroad participants, family support is essential. Support is still there even if you go to study overseas, but it can often be time zones away. It’s down to you to decide how far is too far.
What climate would you prefer?
Climate is another critical question to consider. You might want to change your climate completely. On the other hand, you might decide that with all the other changes, you’d prefer a destination with a similar environment to the one you’re used to. Your decision is based on personal preference and comfortability.
Do you want to learn a new language?
For some students, learning a new language is a primary reason to study abroad because they want to be fully immersed. Understanding your capacity to incorporate language learning is something only you can decide. It will dictate your destination, so keep it in mind.
Are there any places you want to visit?
Studying abroad is about adventures in your host country, but what about other places you might want to visit? Factor in other destinations on your bucket list when choosing a country to study.
How safe is it to study abroad?
A top deal breaker for many people is whether studying abroad is safe. Some destinations are going to be safer than others, but anything can happen anywhere.
Safety abroad tends to be common sense. Always be alert of your surroundings, don’t wear fancy jewelry, and always keep your phone close to hand.
If you want to check safety statistics, ask your program to connect you with a study abroad alum. They can be an excellent resource for understanding the safety of a study-abroad destination.
Other things to think about before you buy your plane ticket
A good place to start is to think about why you want to study abroad. Are you excited to push outside your comfort zone and immerse yourself in a new culture? Will this be your first chance to travel outside the country? Perhaps you’re looking to accelerate your language acquisition. If you can’t think of a reason, this could be an indication that studying abroad isn’t right for you.
Something else to consider is whether you have the mental health tools to handle the challenges you’ll likely have to face.
Will it fit into your schedule?
You should make sure that studying abroad won’t slow down your studies. Not all institutions allow you to transfer all credits which could put you behind on graduating.
How are you going to pay for it?
Studying abroad can be expensive. Depending on where you’re studying and the type of visa available, you might not be able to work while abroad.
Luckily, there are other ways to finance your international study dreams. For example, you may be able to use federal student aid towards study abroad programs. There are also scholarships, grants, and programs sponsored by foreign governments. You might also be lucky enough to find a university abroad that offers free tuition to international students.
Private loans are another financing option for study abroad programs, but interest rates can be steep. It’s important to consider the total cost before relying on one.
Studying abroad during college can be an immensely gratifying experience for some, but it’s not right for everybody. Think carefully about your decision and talk to a college counselor or someone in your study abroad department if you’re feeling unsure.