At my university, studying abroad is a rather popular option for juniors. Applications are due a year earlier during sophomore year, and it becomes a pretty commonplace topic of conversation during that time. A lot of the reasons people were giving for why they wanted to study abroad were great – but not always goals I could connect with. People wanted to practice their language ability, get a chance to travel, live in a different country for the first time, challenge themselves, or learn a new culture. During these discussions I felt a little bit out of place, because unlike many of my friends, coming the the U.S. had felt a little bit like a study abroad experience in and of itself. Before starting college I lived outside of the United States for nine years. Many of the usual reasons for studying abroad didn’t really apply to me and my experience. So of course, as an over-analyzing list-maker, I made a pros and cons list for why I should or should not apply to a college study abroad program.
Considerations Against Studying Abroad:
I worried that if I participated in a study abroad program, I would find myself feeling unconnected to the other students in the program. I knew many people who were interested in studying abroad in Europe, for example, specifically so they could travel to as many different countries as possible during the weekends. I love traveling, but I knew I’d be more interested in digging in and really developing a local connection with my study abroad host country.
I was also concerned about missing my chance to spend time on campus. The way I see it, in the grand scheme of things four years of your life is a very short time. I want to really cherish my time as a university student living on a college campus.
Considerations For Studying Abroad:
While I have grown up overseas, I certainly haven’t been everywhere. I’ve still only seen such a small portion of the world. Study abroad could be a way to see somewhere new for me. It would be a shift being abroad with other students rather than my family.
Another great thing about studying abroad in college if you grew up internationally is that you know how moving to a new country “works.” I know how culture shock affects me, and I also know how to get over that transition period as quickly as I can. Study abroad programs tend to be just for the school year or part of the academic year. The way I see it, the less time you need to get settled the better because study abroad programs go by real quickly.
Depending on the kind of program you take part in, you might still be able to stay connected to your university. Check to see if the programs you’re looking at will host many other students from your university.
Now that I’ve mapped out all of my reasoning for/against studying abroad, here’s what happened: I applied and was accepted to study abroad in London this fall! Since the program is in a city, I know it shouldn’t be difficult for me to go exploring on my own if I want to, but because the program is really big, I’ll still be rather connected to my American university. I’m hoping to really capture the best of both worlds with this choice. I’m extremely excited to start this new adventure, and I hope to write about the experience as much as I can.
What made you choose to study abroad or not study abroad?