[Note from Emily: I’m out for a bit for my wedding, so I’m featuring a few guest posts. This one from Lisa Shoreland is especially appealing to me since I massively regret not studying abroad in college. Enjoy!]
Studying abroad may be a quintessential part of college life and beyond-the-classroom education. Arguably, more can be learned through experience than textbooks, and this is why many institutions provide study abroad opportunities to several destinations, most often in Europe, Asia, and South America.
Some students are rightfully wary—the idea of leaving not only one’s home but one’s home country for three months as admittedly daunting—but those who take the leap always have adventures they remember for the rest of their lives.
It’s good to have a clear-cut list of ups and downs to any given situation, and studying abroad is no exception.
- Studying abroad looks great on a resume; it shows you are a risk taker, proactive, and may know another language.
- The best way to learn a new language and learn about another culture is through immersion. Although I studied Italian for nearly a semester before going to Italy, I never learned so quickly as when I was on my own in Florence.
- Grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities abound for most study-abroad trips. This makes the spending money on traveling bit easier on your bank account.
- Unlike most vacation packages, study abroad opportunities allow participants to explore a new country for an entire semester, not just a week or two. Moreover, most host families are only too happy to show their students the side of a country or region few others but locals see.
- Traveling is always an adventure, a journey you will likely remember forever fondly.
- Traveling is easier to do when young and without children or a spouse.
- Studying abroad with other students can create strong, unique bonds between those who are at first mere strangers, and you’ll likely stumble upon other friendships throughout your journeys.
- If you’re a photographer or collector of souvenirs or trinkets, traveling is your dream come true. I have more pictures of the Italian Alps over the course of three months than I do of the rest of my college experience.
- You may become homesick. Although I relished my time in Italy, it was difficult to be away from my significant other, and another student actually spent most of his time in Rome playing video games on his laptop in the hotel room because he was unhappy being away from his home.
- It may require quitting a job or school activity if manager/instructors are less understanding. A friend a year behind me in college was told by his band instructor that if he left, his position would not be guaranteed upon his return.
- You may miss out on activities and get-togethers with family and friends, like birthdays, parties, and holidays like Thanksgiving or Easter.
- Your home stay family and you may not get along. Some may have strict curfews that allow little time for exploring the area after class, while some may have different core values than you.
- You may not be able to graduate as quickly as you’d like since most study abroad semesters take on fewer courses (and thus credits).
- If you travel while studying abroad, you may end up spending a decent amount of money, although most of this can be controlled with self-discipline and creative traveling choices. You can always opt to explore local gems instead of taking trains to more typical tourist destinations, however.
- You may find that the classes you are taking or your professor is not to your liking.
Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go college, where recently she’s been researching school grants and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3.