Should You Study Abroad? Absolutely! And Here’s Why…

My senior year I decided that it was high time I left the country to study abroad. So, I hopped a plane for England and spent the summer exploring London and the UK.

It was an experience unlike anything I ever encountered before and, to some degree, since. I had a blast with my fellow students, finished up my education, and was able to explore another country pretty much at my leisure.

Studying abroad is a great option for those students looking to squeeze everything they can out of their college experience. Most universities offer a plethora of locations and programs and try to make it as affordable as possible for those students looking to hop their own plane somewhere new.

Here’s what you should know about studying abroad.

A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

This saying may be an old cliche, but it certainly holds true in this case. Studying abroad provides students the rare opportunity to explore a new culture, immerse themselves in a new place, and grow as a person. You’re also at that point in your life where you’re not yet tied down to anyplace in particular or have the weight of post-graduation responsibilities. Also, studying through your school off-site allows for some hands-on education in your chosen program.

What’s more, it’s done in a environment in which the university has already established itself, providing safety nets for the students studying there. In London, we spent a full day with our British counterparts and guides getting advice, guidance, tips, emergency contact lists, etc. all set in place by both universities to assist students in making a fun and smooth transition.

Plan Ahead

I made the decision one year before I hopped on that plane to study abroad, and I was all the more ready for it when it came time to take off. Preparation is key, both for your academic future, and your financial one. Make sure you’re able to plan out the tuition necessary to go abroad. Find out what immunizations you may need. Confirm that the course credits you’ll be taking apply to your degree and to your home university. Decide what time of year you want to go as returning in the spring or fall can create issues with finding housing when you return.

Speak to your parents and advisers about setting yourself up for success both when you go and when you return. Go to some study abroad fairs through your university. Also, check out which scholarships may be available to help you finance your expedition. Most important of all, update your passport!

Get Familiar with Your New Country Before You Go

You may think you have an idea of what you’re in for as you board that plane, but let me tell you, you have no idea. We as a group spent a few days collecting converters for power outlets because the one’s in England are different than America, little fans to stick in our cramped dorm rooms because air-conditioning is very rare, and learning what types of coins are how much and what the exchange rate for the dollar was, and much more. All this in a country that is similar to the U.S. and speaks the same language.

So take the time to learn as much as you can about your host country, ask friends that might have been there, professors going with the group, etc. Make sure you know enough about the culture to get along great with your hosts.

Have Fun!

Studying abroad can truly be a once in a lifetime, amazing experience. When you go, get out of town, explore, take well-calculated risks. You may never get the opportunity to do so again.

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Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling earned his BA from Michigan State University. Jared has been writing since he was eleven when all his characters had swords and magic spells and bad attitudes. When not writing or studying, he can be found watching Spartan football and basketball games, reading, or working out. Jared currently lives in Chicago pursuing his MA in Writing in Publishing from DePaul University.
Jared Gerling

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