Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

So, you’re considering studying abroad? While there are tons of cool things about it, it might not fit everyone’s groove. Let’s consider what studying abroad means and take a closer look at the good stuff (the pros) and the not-so-good stuff (the cons) so you can decide if it’s right for you.

Studying abroad has pros and cons that you should consider before committing to a program.

A student holding a small globe with mountains in the background.

Studying abroad has pros and cons that you should consider before committing to a program.

Studying abroad means going to another country for a while to study at a college or university there. It could be for a whole semester, during the summer, or even as part of an exchange program. It sounds pretty cool, right? Well, lots of people think so too! For more information on everything that a study abroad program entails, check out our article titled ‘What is Studying Abroad?

What Are the Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad?

While studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, it is not for everyone. Before saying yes, you should weigh the benefits and disadvantages of studying abroad.

Pros Cons
You’ll Make New Friends You May Get Homesick
You’ll Open the Door to New Opportunities You May Experience Culture Shock
You’ll Learn a New Language You May Not Be Fluent in a Language
You’ll Gain Independence It Can Be Expensive
You’ll Explore New Places May Require Additional Schooling

Pro: You’ll Make New Friends

Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to expand your social circle and meet new people from all over the world. Whether it’s fellow students from your own country, locals from the host country, dorm mates, or classmates, you’ll have ample opportunities to connect with diverse individuals. Building friendships with people from different cultures and backgrounds can enrich your experience and broaden your perspective.

While it’s natural to feel a bit isolated at first, reaching out and making new friends can greatly enhance your study abroad adventure. By embracing the opportunity to connect with others, you’ll create lasting memories, share incredible stories, and potentially forge friendships that last a lifetime.

Con: You May Get Homesick

Sure, studying abroad is an adventure, but it can also tug at the heartstrings. Missing family, friends, and the comforts of home is totally normal. Plus, if your program is a long one, you might miss out on special occasions like birthdays and holidays.

But, here’s the thing: it’s not forever. You’ll be back home eventually. In the meantime, apps like Discord, FaceTime, and Zoom can keep you connected with your loved ones. And don’t forget to bring back some souvenirs when it’s time to head home!

Pro: You’ll Open the Door to New Opportunities

Studying abroad opens up a world of possibilities beyond the confines of your home campus. While immersing yourself in a new culture, you’ll have the chance to explore a diverse range of courses, not just limited to your major. Alongside your academic pursuits, consider taking classes that offer insights into the culture and history of the country you’re visiting.

This is also a great time to network! Use this opportunity to make connections that could lead to internships or job opportunities. You could even decide to move to this country after you graduate college. There really are no end of possibilities that could come out of studying abroad.

Con: You May Experience Culture Shock

Exploring a new environment can certainly have its perks, yet for some, it might feel a tad overwhelming at first. Adjusting to unfamiliar surroundings, meeting new faces, and navigating through a new city can indeed be quite the undertaking. However, taking things at your own pace and leaning on the support network provided by your new college can make all the difference.

Pro: You’ll Learn a New Language

If you’ve been studying Spanish, Italian, Japanese, or another language for some time, this is a great chance to put those skills to work. Learning a foreign language in the classroom is fantastic, but many find that real mastery of the language comes from immersing yourself in it every day. By studying abroad, you can put your language skills to work day after day, honing your conversation skills and understanding.

Con: You May Not Be Fluent in a Language

Studying abroad absolutely helps you brush up on your studied language, but what if you haven’t studied the language at all? It can be super easy to get lost and fall behind in your classes, especially if you don’t understand any of what’s being said!

It’s generally not recommended to study abroad in a country where you don’t understand the language. Classes may be taught in that language, and it will no doubt be difficult to pass if you can’t understand the teacher. Even if you think you can learn the basics of the language quickly, it’s not a good idea—proficiency takes years and years of hard-earned practice. If you haven’t studied a foreign language, it’s best to attend a college in an English-speaking country.

Pro: You’ll Gain Independence

You definitely experienced independence when you left for college but studying abroad introduces a new meaning to the word. You’ll be far away from family and friends, and may even feel on your own, even if you have a support network at the new college. This can be liberating for some and scary for others.

Con: It Can Be Expensive

One of the main concerns about studying abroad is the cost. Between flights, housing, living expenses, and tuition, it can get expensive fast. If you are worried about affording an international program, talk to your financial aid department. They sometimes have funds that can help make it a reality for students and may be able to point you in the direction of additional aid including scholarships and grants. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to receive federal aid for study abroad programs if you qualify.

Pro: You’ll Explore New Places

Being somewhere new gives you the opportunity to travel and work towards your degree at the same time. Don’t worry, you won’t have to hit the books for your entire program. There will be plenty of chances to explore, sightsee, and experience the country you’re visiting.

Con: Additional Schooling

Studying abroad can sometimes require students an additional semester or even a year of extra school. It depends on the program and how it translates to credits for your bachelor’s degree.

Before you sign up for a study abroad program, check with the international department to see how it works and how it will impact your own timeline. You may also want to chat with your academic adviser to discuss your options. You need to know what to expect before you take that flight; you don’t want to be finishing up the program and discover it won’t be put towards your required credits.

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