The Good and the Bad about Studying Abroad

First, the good. Travelling overseas can be an exhilarating experience, especially if you haven’t exactly been a jet setter up to this point in your life. You’ll have the chance to see an entirely new place, explore the sites, and make new friends. You’ll be immersed in a culture entirely different from your own, and it’s an experience a lot of students ultimately look back on without regret. If your school has an international campus or two, you can make the academic transition seamlessly without taking a hit in the credits department. Study abroad timetables are often flexible, too. Some students choose to go for just three months, others a semester, and still others go abroad for an entire school year. You might also be exposed to classes that you wouldn’t otherwise take if they aren’t offered at your own campus. Now, the bad. It can be really stressful! You’ll find yourself in a completely foreign place that, no matter how well-researched, will still seem strange at first. You may not be physically alone, but if you don’t know anyone where you’re going you might find yourself feeling isolated and confused. Not to mention there could be language barriers. If you’re taking a foreign language you might want to go to a country where you can practice your skills (France if you take French, Spain or a South American country if you take Spanish, and so on) and if you’re not a foreign language buff, consider sticking to areas with large English speaking populations, like the United Kingdom and Australia. Even so, there will be some adjustments, and worrying about conversion rates, pocket dictionaries, cultural barriers, or financial difficulties can be overwhelming on top of a demanding course load. To minimize “the bad,” do as much research as possible before you go. While this won’t solve all your problems, talking to teachers, getting online, and asking advice from other study abroad students can help you pinpoint what areas to steer clear of and on which to focus. One last point: combat homesickness proactively! Even if you’re chomping at the bit to get out of your rinky dink hometown, more than likely you’ll find yourself pining after the local diner food at least once, or waiting for the phone to ring and to hear your parents’ voices. Make sure to get in all the good stuff about your city one last time before you leave, and make plans at least during the first couple weeks to talk to parents and friends regularly until you get the swing of things. Now, bon voyage!

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