Three Classic Reasons* You Should Study Abroad in College
- Access and Affordability
You’ll probably never be able to live in another country for two weeks or three months, unless you study abroad while in college. Sure, loans are a part of many financial aid packages but so are scholarships and grants. Many programs will match the Pell Grant the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides. These programs also offer their own set of scholarships that are readily accessible to students if only they apply. A student may only need to write an additional essay explaining why they want to study in another country or submit a letter of recommendation. Luckily, many of the requirements these programs want are already documents students who want to study abroad will have.
*Note: While it’s easy to say a student will probably have access to these resources already, applying to a study abroad program is not easy. It takes time and money. Don’t be afraid to reach out to current students who have already studied abroad, your business center, writing center, financial aid office, and even the study abroad program with your questions and concerns.
- Resume Booster
Studying abroad is impressive. No matter what country one visits or whether one passes or stands out, studying in another country is an impressive feat because it’s not easy. This is not to say one should get a cookie or a badge for every achievement, but don’t sleep on the fact that many people are not willing to take the leap and leave what is comfortable to them. No one can say exactly what employers, scholarship committees, and colleges and universities say when they see that a student has studied abroad but a few things are clear. If you study abroad you’ve developed transferable skills. You are able to adjust and adapt to hardships, you will commit to what you say you will do, and you’re brave. People generally like courageous people because courageous people have heart and they don’t quit easily. Wouldn’t you like to be that kind of person?
*Note: While studying abroad is impressive, don’t expect to be rolling in money after your experience. Your first job (or three) after college will probably still be a minimum wage one, and while it’ll hurt, that’s okay. If you’d like to know how you can use your experience to your benefit, stop by your Career Services office and ask them to help you highlight your time away, but also ask them to be realistic with you.
- The Glow-Up
Studying abroad changes you. The process may involve many growing pains depending on your experience, but after the storm there is peace. And in the end, for the most part, you are a better person. The type of growth studying abroad incites takes the average person years to accomplish. In short, you’re just different. It’s a change you’ll feel throughout your time away but a change you’ll mainly feel the impact of when you return. In the beginning, the re-entry culture shock may be a bit jolting, but when the going gets tough, you’ll be able to tap into who you were when you were away. You may also find yourself a bit more self-confident and empathetic.
*Note: If therapy is your thing, or you’d like to try it out, don’t be afraid to take advantage of your college’s or university’s resources when it concerns getting acclimated to being back home. (All-or at least most-colleges have some sort of mental health/wellness center for students, irrespective of health insurance status.) Students also go abroad and realize that identifying as LGBTQ is illegal and that being a woman is especially difficult and hard everywhere. So, it’s important to remember that life does not stop when you leave your native country. You can still die, get sick, experience sadness (and joy) while abroad, so it’s necessary that you protect yourself. Research the laws of any country you decide to visit and don’t skim the packets of information the program will send you. Read it. All of it.
In sum, studying abroad is a life-changing experience that every student, with the opportunity, should take advantage of. However, again, it’s important to remember to speak to your family, counselor, or student advisor before you make your decision.
(Photo courtesy of Roanoke College)
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