Here are ten study abroad pros and cons. You will not only find reasons to go abroad, but also learn about some common misconceptions and issues that might come your way. Find the pros and cons for short term study abroad programs here.
Getting a glimpse of a foreign culture is hands down the single best reason of them all. Seeing people’s daily lives, how they treat and talk to each other, or what they eat and drink (and much more!) can be a life-changing experience. Be prepared for that reversed culture shock when coming back!
Studying abroad brings traveling to the next level and is the best way to experience a country in depth. Imagine spending about five months in your dream country. You can’t compare that to any holiday! It might also allow you to travel to countries where it can be hard to get into in terms of visa restrictions or the like. Universities have more power than you might think.
Being based in a foreign country far away from home is also a great way to explore the neighboring countries. Imagine visiting half of Europe or hopping around Southeast Asia during your study abroad. Of course, this is a money issue, but see how to save at least some cash here.
Going abroad is also a great way to meet like-minded people with the same interests and preferences. I’ve met some of my best friends during study abroad programs, and we are still in touch today.
Needless to say, you can improve your language skills. Hearing and speaking a foreign language every day is by far the best way to level-up your skills.
There are always other (and better) ways of studying and teaching. Some systems require more regular work, while others only have one single exam at the end of the semester. In some countries, group projects are more common than in others. Also, the student-professor relationship is very different across the world. Trying a new system could improve your organization or team player skills.
Imagine taking innovation courses in Sweden, automotive design courses in Germany, or marine biology classes in Norway. You could go practically anywhere to take classes that are not offered at your home university. Also, you could choose countries that are famous or renowned for a particular area. This looks great on your CV and provides you with the best education in that field.
Always wanted to experience a specific lifestyle? How about studying in an Asian metropolis? Or living the surfer lifestyle in California? How about having a good time in France? Just treat yourself to an extended holiday and enjoy your life.
Thought about moving to a country, but you aren’t quite sure yet? Going there for a study abroad program first might be a good idea. First, you experience the country and improve your language skills. In the end, you should have a better idea of whether or not you’d want to move there or not. Next, if you decide to move there, the previous semester abroad and your skills give you a significant advantage for the job hunt. If not, you are still left with many new impressions and unique experiences.
Going abroad is also a way of proving to yourself that you can make it anywhere. Finding accommodation in the USA, dealing with paperwork in Asia, finding friends in Europe. Going abroad boosts your confidence, increases your network, and makes it easier for you to get along in new and changing environments.
Many countries have different start and end dates of their academic calendar. As a result, you cannot squeeze every study abroad program into your curriculum back home perfectly. This means that you might have relatively long waiting times between your planned semester abroad and the semester that comes before or after that back home. As a result, your graduation would shifts back by a semester or two. Always check the academic calendar of the country or university you are interested in and how it affects your curriculum back home.
The preparation always takes some time and research. To make it easier, I want to support you through this website as much as possible. However, there is still some effort involved with finding the right country and program (tests), your application (application support), writing your letter of motivation, or improving your CV. This gets particularly hard if you have a lot of work to do for your studies at the same time.
While there are many ways to make studying abroad affordable, it usually involves extra costs like flight tickets or insurance. However, depending on the country and available scholarships, you might even make money from studying abroad. In some cases, money might be a big issue and a show stopper, unfortunately. Check out the money matters section for more information.
Being away from home for an extended period can make many people feel homesick. I think it’s perfectly fine as long as the urge to go home is not dragging you down or affecting your daily life. You might want to try a short term program first instead of a whole semester if you’re prone to homesickness.
Experiencing a new foreign culture might make you feel uncomfortable when coming back. As a result, you feel like a stranger in your own country. This might even go so far that you don’t identify with your old values anymore. Also, you might need a long time to readjust to your “new” old environment.
Being away from your friends and family for a long time can be challenging. You might lose contact with some friends if you don’t put in the work to maintain the relationship. Fortunate enough, there are many ways of communicating with your loved ones these days. However, having so many possibilities eliminates all excuses not to do so. This can put a lot of pressure on you or your friends. Try to meet online frequently to stay updated, so you don’t have to start with the basics each time.
Stays abroad are always something you will talk about in interviews. So it would be best if you always were prepared to explain why you chose a specific country or university. Your story has to fit into your curriculum or career goals somehow. Otherwise, your semester abroad looks like some random holiday. I don’t frown on that. On the contrary, I highly suggest taking some time off to go overseas. But you should be able to justify it somehow.
Yes, this might be an issue at some point. Going abroad and experiencing a country and its culture in such a unique way makes you somewhat addicted. This could go wrong in five ways. First, you can’t enjoy your current stay because you have to plan the next one to meet the deadlines. Second, you are away from home even longer. Third, you invest all your time and money into studying abroad. Fourth, being back home is boring for you and makes you feel restless. Fifth, you are frequently being torn from your new friends and environments, which is exhausting in the long run.
If every entry in your CV is in a different city or country, this might give potential employers mixed feelings. Even though you might be qualified for the job, they can’t be sure about your intentions. Is the position you applied for just another short term adventure for you? Or are you planning on committing to the company? You might have to explain your decisions in future interviews.
Finally, not everybody gets the chance to study abroad. And not everybody grants you the experience. Even some of your friends might drop an occasional stupid saying that leaves you speechless. Just be prepared for that.
This concludes the list of study abroad pros and cons. Of course, there are more reasons to go abroad or stay at home. Consider this to be only a small selection to help you make a decision.