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Let the study abroad dreams begin. It’s that time of year, finals are over, and you’re packing up your bag to head home for the holiday. Winter break is the perfect opportunity to polish up your study abroad application if you’re considering taking the leap.
Your brain is probably going back and forth constantly trying to decide whether it’s even in your best interest to study abroad for a semester, term or even a full year.
I’m sure you’ve heard some crazy fun stories about all the adventures your friends have had, but you’re just not sure it’s for you. Well, here’s some Pros and Cons to consider before you make your final decision:
Culture | Living in a brand new country will allow you to experience a completely different way of life. The things you learn during your adventure will impact you forever. You will expand your views on what really matters in life and also see how other cultures might view things totally different.
Language | If you’ve never studied a language, this is the golden ticket! As you speak with more people, young, old, professors and friends, you will learn faster and expand your vocabulary. Once you fully submerge yourself in a language you will be amazed how fast your brain picks up on it.
Perspective | Universities abroad differ from what you have grown accustomed to in the states. Education standards are not the same and in fact, differ greatly from university to university. One of the advantages of study abroad is that studying at a foreign university will broaden your academic learning styles and teach your brain to think in a different fashion.
Independent | Going to college was a huge independent leap, but that’s only a small leap over a crack in the sidewalk compared to moving to a different country. For starters, you’ll have to navigate a map where you don’t even know which direction is up. However you can do it! You’ll realize just how much you’ve been taking for granted in your comfort zone in the states.
New Friends | Studying at a new university abroad means meeting lots of new people, like a ton! The bonds you make will be lifelong, which will be incredibly useful for when you finish school and want to travel.
New Foods | Food is a great insight into a new culture and new way of life. From simple and unique street food to extravagant local delicacies, let more than your eyes feast on local dishes. Studying abroad is an excellent way to expand your taste buds.
Homesick | You might think you get occasional home sickness at your current university, but being in a different country is a whole different ball game. Not being able to travel home for visits during a quiet weekend or spend the holidays at your parents can definitely me a struggle if you’re not ready to take this step. Luckily technology has come a long ways and with video-calling sites and apps, like Skype and Apple’s FaceTime, homesickness is a lot more manageable.
FOMO | Fomo (Fear Of Missing Out) is a really thing! This is where social media is not in your best interest. Seeing the parties you’re missing, the birthdays you can celebrate, the late night group studying sessions in library might make you feel really left out. Just remember that if you’re only studying abroad for a term that one term is such a small percentage of your total time in college that you’ll have plenty of time to live in those moments.
Loneliness | Regardless of how many new friends you make, your will experience loneliness at some point. There are always occasions when you miss your family and college friends that you have created such a tight bond with.
Healthcare | Like many students, you may assume that your health insurance will continue to cover you as you travel outside of the stats. Some health plans provide coverage for unexpected injury or illness incurred abroad, but all coverage levels vary. Some health plans provide zero international coverage, yikes! Meaning you could be 100% responsible for expenses resulting from any medical treatment.
Communication | Throwing yourself in a culture that doesn’t speak your native language can be very scary! You may feel like you have trouble communicating anything that can’t be explained with basic words, and if you’re an introvert, this can be a painfully scary experience.
For most college students, this chance may be the only opportunity they ever get to travel abroad for a long stretch of time. Eventually you will find a job, have reoccurring monthly payments and the opportunity to study abroad may turn out to be a once in a life time opportunity. Take this opportunity to travel the world with no commitments but to study and learn about new cultures. You won’t regret it!