College is such a unique season of life. While it may simply feel like the next step in your “life plan,” rest assured that it’s a period of time unlike any other in your life. While you have the freedom of an adult, you naturally have fewer responsibilities than someone with a full-time job or a mama toting around a couple of kids might have.
This is why many college students consider studying abroad for a semester or two during their time away at school. Most colleges and universities have partnerships with educational organizations and institutions around the world, so study-abroad programs are generally easy to access. Depending on your major—a trip abroad to somewhere related to your studies might make a lot of sense (for instance, if you’re a Spanish student, it will probably be highly beneficial for you to spend some time in Spain).
If you’re going back and forth about whether or not you should study abroad, rest assured, you’re not the only one who has hesitated before making the leap to live in London for the next year. We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for you, so you can properly weigh your options before you make your final decision.
1. Is the opportunity worth it?
Perhaps the most convincing argument for studying abroad is that it’s usually an unparalleled opportunity to see the world in a way that you may never have the chance to do again. Depending on where you decide to study, you might even be able to do some additional traveling during your free time or if you have a couple weeks off. If you decide to study in the United Kingdom or a European country, you’ll be in prime territory to do some more traveling.
Not only will you be in a new place, but the language, the food, the activities you’re invited to participate might all look really different than they do from your home. It’s important to think through how important these new experiences might be to you and if you’re willing to trade some of the cons that can come with studying abroad.
2. Can you swing the expense?
Studying abroad can be very expensive. Not only do you have to pay for your travel to get wherever you’re going, but you’ll be continuing to pay for your schooling, your housing, your food, any additional costs, and your travel back home. If a foreign institution isn’t regulated by your home government’s educational system, you might not be able to get the same grants or scholarships you had at home.
All that to say, while traveling abroad can certainly be expensive, many students manage to swing the expense by doing a lot of saving and planning. If you have a family member who’s willing to help you pay the cost, that is always an option too.
3. Will it benefit your future?
Traveling abroad can broaden your horizons in a lot of different ways: you can learn a new language, you’ll probably make a lot of connections with new people, and you might have more career opportunities in the future. Studying abroad looks great on a resume, and if you’re able to add a second language to your set of skills, you’ll find that your chances of landing a good job after graduation will skyrocket.
Making friends overseas will also give you the chance to see life from a different perspective, and depending on how close you get during your time abroad, you might stay friends well into the future. It’s always nice to have a friend in another country when you’re traveling and need a place to stay. Doing a lot of traveling can help you think in new ways, and the personal development that can come with touring a different country can change your outlook on life in positive ways forever.
4. Are you okay with long-distance relationships?
Studying abroad means that, of course, you will be separated from many of your friends and family for a season of time. Being apart from loved ones can be stressful and painful, but many college students have found the homesickness lessened a great deal by modern technologies like Skype and FaceTime.
The same thing goes for when you return home. Are you okay keeping up with new friends you met from a distance?
There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking about studying abroad! Hopefully thinking through some of these pros and cons might make the decision a little easier.