What To Expect When Studying Abroad

Have you ever thought you may want to study abroad during college?  If so, there are many things to consider. Here are some things you may want to think about when deciding whether or not to study abroad:

  • What do you hope to gain from this experience?  Are you looking to immerse yourself in a very different culture and learn a new language or are you looking for something less challenging?
  • Are there classes you need to take to prepare for your experience? Some programs require you to take foreign language courses or history courses in advance of studying abroad.
  • Will the courses you take count for your degree program? Talk to your travel abroad coordinator and your major advisor and verify in advance, otherwise you may be in for an unwelcome and expensive surprise.

Recently, I interviewed Mollye Friedman who just returned from studying abroad and asked her about her experience.  She is currently a student at Chapman University studying business.

Where and when did you study abroad?

I studied abroad at Cass Business School at City University in London, England during the spring semester of 2013.  Luckily there was a great program affiliated with the Chapman University and there were many options available to me.

How did you decide where you would study abroad?

I took Spanish all throughout high school and college and was intrigued by the idea of becoming fluent over a semester abroad in a Spanish speaking country but chose to study in London because they had a very impressive Business School that allowed me to take all of my upper division business classes that I needed.  I advise students going abroad to research the schools they’ll be attending to make sure the classes they take abroad will be credited at their universities back home.

What was your favorite thing about studying abroad?

My favorite part of studying abroad was being able to immerse myself into a new culture and experience new things that were very much out of my comfort zone. Even though in many ways London is very Americanized it is still very different.  Most significantly, it’s HUGE, really more like a combination of five or six cities in one, and very multicultural.

If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?

I would have probably gone to somewhere that let me a little more out of my comfort zone. London was an English speaking country and although it was still a different experience, I wasn’t as much outside of my comfort zone as I would have wanted.

What is your number one piece of advice for students studying abroad?

I advise other perspective study abroad students to travel as much as possible!  London is a hub and once you’re there it’s relatively affordable to take short trips or extended weekend trips in all directions.

What did you find most surprising about your experience?

I found it very surprising that some of the places that I visited I actually envisioned myself living and visiting again. Prior to studying abroad, I had never traveled much outside of California, and especially never imagined finding another country I could picture myself living in.

What was the most challenging thing about your experience?

The most challenging aspect of my experience was definitely money. London is expensive! Everything costs more there, not only because the currency exchange isn’t very favorable for Americans but also because it’s a big city.  Another challenge initially was transportation, but after some effort, I learned my way around the city using the underground (tube), taking buses and walking.

Do you think your time abroad changed you or your perspective?  If so, how?

Yes, it definitely opened up my eyes to all of the amazing places and opportunities that there are for me in the world.

What were your top five travel essentials when studying abroad?

Passport, iPod, camera, my friend Gigi, and Gigi’s passport.

If you could use 5 words to describe your experience, what would they be?

Best time of my life.

Every individual’s study abroad experience is different, and you get out of it what you put in to it. So if you’re planning on studying abroad, be ready to step out of your comfort zone, try new things, and make lots of amazing memories that will last a lifetime!

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.
Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing degrees in communication and psychology. At school, Heidi can be found participating in psychology experiments or lounging on the quad. Outside of school, she enjoys exploring new cities, adventuring with friends, and playing with her puppy, Pancake.
Heidi Meier

Latest posts by Heidi Meier (see all)