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What are the pros and cons of studying abroad?


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Tessa’s Answer

Hi Zemira,

I studied abroad multiple times during my undergrad and master's programs and worked abroad in between the two. Previous responses to your question identified some common pros and cons, but ultimately the pros and cons of participating in a study abroad program will be up to you and what you are looking for academically and personally.

Some questions to ask yourself:
- Where do I want to study and/or what countries, cities, and towns am I interested in?
- How long do I want to be away from home? (e.g. semester, summer, J-term, academic year)
- What am I looking for academically? How does a program satisfy degree requirements at my home institution?
- What do I want to get out of studying abroad aside from academic credit? What extra-curricular, cultural, and/or social activities am I interested in?
- What language(s) are spoken in the host country? Is there an opportunity to gain a basic proficiency before or during my program if needed?
- How does a given program fit in with the rest of my academic plans? Will it impact my track for graduation? (e.g. require an extra semester or year based on course availability at home and abroad)
- Am I willing and able to commit to the time and financial costs? Will my current, future, or potential financial aid - including scholarships - apply to my study abroad program?
- Considering this and the above questions, what programs are available and of interest to me?


Living in a different country can be intimidating at first when trying to make friends and interact with locals, and many students often revert to sticking with their friends and classmates from their home country. However, push through any initial fears and insecurities, be willing to be present, engage, and be open to new opportunities while abroad!

Personally, I believe studying abroad is worth it and encourage you to do so if you're able. The catch is that the onus is on YOU to make the most of your study abroad experience. As cliche as it sounds, you'll get what you put into it.

Good luck!

Tessa recommends the following next steps:

Research study abroad programs available and of interest to you through your home institution and/or third-party providers. Schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor if needed.
Identify and apply for programs that best fit what you are looking for in a study abroad experience.
Budget the financial cost of studying abroad (tuition, airfare, local transportation, food, housing, excursions, etc.)
Make the most of your experience! Find healthy ways to overcome home sickness, insecurities of using the local language, and other challenges you might face while studying abroad (e.g. journaling, blogging, practicing the language with a friend, speaking with the program chair/advisor, friends or family)

Thank you so much for the tips! Zemira M.

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Elizabeth’s Answer

As with many other responses, I had the opportunity to study abroad and highly recommend any opportunity to do so for any number of reasons. I was abroad for 6 months, which was longer than many other programs, and I already knew the language conversationally for the country I was traveling to which definitely positively influenced my experience. Luckily universities normally have various options from 1 week to several months, which can help with cost associated with study abroad programs. Location also contributes to cost with the exchange rate, so consider this as well.

Consider your own personality and why you want to travel abroad in order to set yourself up for success. If you are close to family and it is your first time, perhaps select a shorter program. Personally, I am introverted, had not travelled outside of the US, and was in an international business program, but the program I selected was in a German-speaking country, and the classes offered were aligned with my degree. So I was really put outside of my comfort zone being away from family for 6 months. When I studied abroad, I went with 1 person whom I knew very well (and luckily she was extroverted!). So we were able to travel, meet people, and also be independent of each other once we made friends with others around the world. Studying abroad built a lot of confidence and independence in myself, and I fell in love with traveling.

I recommend you do some research into programs and places to get more information. Then, self-reflect on yourself and what you want out of a program. Finally, make a pro/con for yourself and options to make a decision!

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Brigitte’s Answer

Hi Zemira,

Like several other of the folks here, I also studied abroad and it was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.

Pros: Forced to go outside of your comfort zone, opportunity to reflect on the world around you have develop a stronger understanding of the world, become a more understanding and empathetic person, networking opportunities, memories that last a lifetime

Cons: It's expensive, there is often a big learning curve, homesickness, culture shock.

It's important to note that not all study aboard programs are made the same. Often times, people assume studying abroad is an entire semester or year long, but that doesn't have to be the case. There are programs available where you are only abroad over winter or spring break. These shorter term trips are often less expensive and allow you to enjoy more time at home/college with your friends and family. This is exactly what I did when studying aboard. I took a semester long course that allowed me to intern at a startup company in Barcelona. I did all of the work from my college town and then went to Barcelona over spring break to work with the client in-person and experience their culture. This was a perfect layout for me because it was affordable and I didn't miss out on anything in my college town.

If money is a concern, there are typically scholarships available to study abroad. Check with your study abroad office and they can help connect you with numerous financial resources.

Good luck!

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Mark’s Answer

Study abroad is a fantastic opportunity but it needs to be done around your academic schedule to ensure that you can still graduate on time.

Pros:
- A unique opportunity to see a different part of the world than the one you are familiar with.
- Chance to meet new people and experience different cultures.
- See how different institutions and countries educate their future leaders.
- Have a great time and develop life experiences.
- Have a great story to tell when you are doing interviews after college. It helps you sell yourself to future employers by being able to tell them, "When I was in England/Wales/Italy/Spain I had this great experience that ties directly into what your company ties".
- Studying abroad starts to help you separate yourself from your classmates as most of them will do the normal college experience.

Cons:
- Pick the right time to go. Second semester Junior year is probably the right time for most students.
- Watch your class schedule. If a class you need is only being taught at a certain time then you need to grab the class then. You can sometimes take independent studies to make up the class but that isn't a given with every school.
- Not all schools have study abroad programs but many have associations with schools that do.
- Can be expensive. Going overseas isn't cheap so you'll want to make sure you have the financial resources available to enjoy yourself.
- It is still school so don't let your academics slip because you're too busy having fun.

Thank you for your advice! Much appreciated! Zemira M.

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Anthony’s Answer

Hello Zemira, I am happy to help answer your question. I was fortunate enough to study abroad during my time in undergrad, even though it was a much shorter time period than other programs.

Pros:
-Able to see and experience a new culture
-Opportunity to learn a new language
-You get the chance to see how people in other parts of the world live compared to you
-You’ll meet new and interesting people, whether it be in your University group or at the host University
-You get to try new foods
-Depending on where you go, you’ll have great opportunities to sight-see
-You will make some amazing and lifelong memories

Cons:
-Cost: studying abroad can be very expensive
-Away from your friends and family: this can be tough for some
-Have to adjust to a new language, which is challenging for some
-The style of living in other countries can be very different, so you’ll have to adjust

This isn’t a complete list but hopefully this is helpful for you!

Thank you Mr. Rizzo. Zemira M.

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Zemira.

I traveled abroad to study for my major in college. I went to study and use the language that was part of my major in college. I think that this is a very specific and obvious way to study abroad. You can imagine that there is a high number of pros in this situation. Not only did I live in a home where no one spoke English, I also took classes in the local language, forcing me to really use the language. By the end of the three months, I was dreaming in the language over English. it was incredible. I suppose one thing that you would need to know before you go - How would going abroad enhance what I am learning in my major? I think that some majors would hugely benefit from travel to the right location include: History, Language Studies, any of the arts (from painting to acting to culinary arts), etc. I am less sure about the STEM subjects, but I am sure that there are countries there where seeing a different society's interpretation of STEM that may differ from the US.

One of the things that I did not do ahead of going abroad was learn about the country I was visiting. Many of the challenges that I have had working internationally come from cultural misunderstandings. It can be easy to offend in other cultures with the ways that Americans do things. You need to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible and understand how to apologize when it inevitably happens.

Some advice for you - learn about other cultures ahead of traveling to those countries. Learn about cultures. There is a cool app from Culture Wizard (https://www.rw-3.com/) that can give you some cultural insights that you might want to consider when traveling. It asks for your home country and the country you will be traveling to. It gives you a comparison of the countries on certain factors and how you may need to change your behavior to be successful in that country. It has a cost, but it is very worthwhile when you begin traveling. I would also recommend that you study cultural differences and learn about them regularly. Some books you might want to read include: Global Dexterity by Andy Molinsky, Managing Across Cultures by Solomon and Schell, and Cultural Agility by Paula Caliguri among many others.

I hope that you do go abroad if it is possible. Just be prepared for your journey so you can get the most from the experience. Good luck.

Gloria

Thank you for your advice and time! Zemira M.

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Brigitte’s Answer

Hi Zemira,

Like several other of the folks here, I also studied abroad and it was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.

Pros: Forced to go outside of your comfort zone, opportunity to reflect on the world around you have develop a stronger understanding of the world, become a more understanding and empathetic person, networking opportunities, memories that last a lifetime

Cons: It's expensive, there is often a big learning curve, homesickness, culture shock.

It's important to note that not all study aboard programs are made the same. Often times, people assume studying abroad is an entire semester or year long, but that doesn't have to be the case. There are programs available where you are only abroad over winter or spring break. These shorter term trips are often less expensive and allow you to enjoy more time at home/college with your friends and family. This is exactly what I did when studying aboard. I took a semester long course that allowed me to intern at a startup company in Barcelona. I did all of the work from my college town and then went to Barcelona over spring break to work with the client in-person and experience their culture. This was a perfect layout for me because it was affordable and I didn't miss out on anything in my college town.

If money is a concern, there are typically scholarships available to study abroad. Check with your study abroad office and they can help connect you with numerous financial resources.

Good luck!

Thank you! Zemira M.

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Bryce’s Answer

Pros: Explore and gain appreciation for other culture of the world. Gain an educational experience in another country. Make friends and learn about foreign society. Priceless memories and experiences.

Cons: Distance from home. Could possibly set you back in graduation progress if all credits do not transfer. Cost is often very high.

Bryce recommends the following next steps:

Look up study abroad programs
Find scholarships that apply to you and could be put toward studying abroad

Thank you! Zemira M.

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Vito’s Answer

Like others have suggested, winter/spring trips abroad are a nice alternative to the time consuming and expensive full semester abroad. My winter abroad trip was three or four weeks and I loved every second of it. I made some lifelong friends I still keep in touch with today. Additionally, as a business major, it gave me a chance to immerse myself in a subject matter that was completely outside of anything I was studying at that point in school.

Thank you! Zemira M.

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