How to determine if Study Abroad is Right for You? For college students in their first and second years, students tend to initially focus on the “abroad” part. A word that conjures up any number of romantic personal impressions. Often, little more than fantasies based on movies, travel books, and first hand reports from friends and relatives who have vacationed abroad. Eclipsed by the glamour and intrigue of it all is the “study” part.
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Study Abroad is Serious Undertaking
But make no mistake about it: studying abroad is a serious undertaking.
It will challenge you on a personal level. It will have an impact on your academic career.
And it will cost money.
Deciding whether to go abroad, therefore, is a momentous decision.
And not one that should be made quickly or without a thorough assessment of all the pros and cons.
Take a deep Look
For you to make the right decision, you will need to take a deep, practical look at the personal, academic and financial challenges of studying abroad. Because, Studying abroad challenges you on a personal level.
In the articles mentioned below, we have touched upon the personal growth and development that inevitably occurs as a result of studying abroad, increased self-awareness, independence, self-confidence, team- and relationship-building skills, adaptability, and an overall sense of accomplishment.
But how exactly does this happen?
Studying Abroad isn’t Just getting Class on Time
Studying abroad is more than just getting to your class on time, making yourself understood in the local language, and eating different foods at the cafeteria.
You must learn how to do many new things while also relearning some things that have become second nature.
Studying abroad involves a subtle but important change in your expectations of yourself and others.
More importantly, you will have to cope with a loss of identity and familiarity and get along without some of the longstanding touchstones that encourage meaning and direction.
You will grow personally, but the experience will test you. It’s important to determine beforehand that you are up to the challenge.
Studying Abroad is not an Extended Vacation
Studying abroad will have an impact on your academic career. The main reason that you are in college is to earn a degree, one that will hopefully prepare you for a satisfying and rewarding career path. How will studying abroad affect that objective?
For some students, it can greatly contribute to reaching it; for others, it may have little to do with academic goals or even present some obstacles. But make no mistake, studying abroad is just that: taking classes at an overseas or foreign university.
The experience shouldn’t be viewed as an extended vacation or a lightweight academic term. You should not only come ready to put just as much effort into your studies as you do on your home campus, but also be prepared to put in even more, especially if you are going to be studying in another language.
But all this work won’t go unrewarded. Most students enjoy their classes, and say that the experience ignited their interest in academic pursuits in general. Many return home with a renewed academic purpose and the desire to do even better in their coursework.
If done intelligently, studying abroad will enhance your overall undergraduate experience. But to be sure it does, you will need to map out how it contributes to your overall course of study before you leave.
Study abroad Costs Money
Study abroad costs money. Studying abroad certainly isn’t cheap, but neither does it have to break the bank. The cost of studying abroad varies greatly depending on the type and location of the program, the length of the stay, and whether the program is administered through your university or an outside organization.
And while the overall cost of studying abroad often exceeds that of studying on the home campus which may lead the student to consider it unaffordable.
While, it is a mistake to assume that is the case, or to assume that the margin of difference is prohibitively large.
Some study abroad programs especially those in developing countries can actually be less expensive than tuition and fees for the equivalent amount of time on your home campus.
Moreover, financial aid, scholarships and grants are often available to qualifying students.
Colleges & Universities encourage to Study Abroad
In an effort to encourage more students to go abroad, many colleges and universities are committed to maintaining cost parity; in other words, a semester abroad should cost exactly the same as one on the home campus, at least as far as tuition and board.
Others offer vouchers that can be used to help defray the costs of airfare, meals and in-country travel, since these costs are often unpredictable and vary widely depending on the destination country.
Food and transportation in Italy, for example, will be significantly more expensive than in Guatemala.
In any case, you will want to have extra money to spend on worthwhile activities and excursions, such as attending cultural performances in China, buying a Eurail pass to explore the capitals of Europe from your base in Paris, taking a side trip to the Amazon from your base in São Paolo, or exploring the savannah while in Africa.
So while the total cost may prevent you from participating in your ideal study abroad program, it probably won’t prevent you from going at all. But it will be up to you to make it happen.
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