The Pros and Cons of Study Abroad

Are you thinking of signing up for a study abroad program? Spending a semester or two outside the U.S. can be the experience of a lifetime. You’ll meet new people, have the chance to learn a new language, and see a different part of the world. However, it tends to be costly, and you’ll probably feel homesick. Read about these pros and cons of studying abroad to see if it’s the right choice for you.

Con: Homesickness

Speaking of friends, you’ll be leaving them behind. You’ll likely experience culture shock, too, which can make feelings of homesickness more intense. The first few weeks in a new country will be the hardest. You’ll need to learn how to get from one place to another, the food will be different, and you’ll have to adjust to any cultural differences.

Fortunately, there are ways to decrease culture shock and feelings of loneliness. There will likely be other U.S. students in the same city as you. Reach out to them. Try to make friends with the locals. You can also keep in touch with family and friends back home using Skype or any other video-chat software.

Pro: Learning a New Language

Whether you want to improve on the language you’re already studying or you want to try something new, you’ll learn faster by immersing yourself in it. Learning a second (or third) language is useful, even if it’s not part of your degree requirement. It can open up doors for you when it’s time to look for a job. And, of course, you’ll also be able to impress your friends when you go back home.

Con: Cost

When you study abroad, you have to deal with more expenses. You’ll have to pay for the flight there and back. If you’re planning to go sightseeing, you’ll need to account for that in your budget. Depending on where you travel, the exchange rate could hurt your wallet even more.

There are ways to make your study abroad program more affordable, however. It’s possible to transfer financial aid to the cost of the program, and there are scholarships or internships you can apply for. Just make sure to apply for programs and funding early, so you don’t miss any deadlines.

Pro: Traveling

By staying in one location for one or two semesters, you’ll have more time to explore the city than you would on a regular trip. Along with visiting the usual tourist attractions, you’ll also get to see how the locals live.

Another perk of studying abroad is how close you’ll be to other countries. You can make the most of your trip by visiting other places on the weekends. For example, if you’re staying in France, you can easily take the train to Austria or Germany. Are you studying in Australia? That puts you that much closer to New Zealand.

These are just a few factors to consider before you apply for a study abroad program. The most important thing is to do your research and make preparations well ahead of time.

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