Studying abroad during college is an exceptional opportunity. It’s a perfect time to stimulate your senses by exploring the world and a college student’s perspective will be changed forever by this multicultural adventure.

The benefits far outweigh the downsides. We’ve come up with a list of reasons why you should say YES to studying abroad.

BENEFITS

Enriching Cultural Experience

Living in a foreign country fosters total immersion. Student expats are awakened by the smell of unfamiliar foods and may be put on high alert by unknown sounds. Taking time to appreciate and respect another culture will lead to more tolerance of others.

Change of Pace

By junior or senior year, many students feel stuck in a rut and are eager for something new. Being introduced to a novel situation may be just the right answer. Students should seek out well-regarded programs that complement and enhance their academic objectives.

Personal Growth

Living and attending school in a foreign country will increase one’s self-awareness and expand one’s ability to live outside one’s comfort zone. Out of necessity, participants will become self-reliant and more adept at managing daily finances.

Time for Exploration

Before, during, and after a study abroad program, there are bountiful opportunities to explore neighboring communities and countries. Interpersonal skills will be sharpened. Lifelong friendships will be started. Many will learn to get along without words in non-English speaking countries.

Improves Future Options

With only a small percentage partaking in study abroad program, resumes will pop. Prospective employers and graduate school administrators acknowledge that study abroad participants are flexible, more mature, and may have bilingual skills. Few will be able to match the stories that you share during interviews.

Being prepared for the experience will lessen natural anxieties. Asking questions is the key. We’ve provided a list of important questions to send you on your way.

DON’T FORGET TO ASK THESE QUESTIONS

Academic

  • Have you researched all options and do any of the programs add value to your education?
  • Does the program fulfill your U.S. college requirements and is the international credit transferable?
  • Will a study abroad experience delay your U.S. graduation?
  • If applicable, can you handle classes in another language?

Economic 

  • Can you afford the airplane ticket and living expenses?
  • Will the tuition be the same or different?
  • Are you eligible for scholarships or grants?
  • Is this a financially sound decision?

Location 

  • Have you read about the destination’s history and traditions?
  • If applicable, can you handle living in a country that has a limited number of English speakers?
  • Are you prepared for culture shock?
  • Do you have sufficient time to obtain a passport and visa?
  • Where will you live?
  • Will you be living in a safe environment?
  • Are there any local anti-American sentiments?

Personal 

  • Do unexpected situations and unfamiliar surroundings easily overwhelm you?
  • Do you have any reservations about assimilating into a foreign culture?
  • Do you have adequate health/travel insurance and will you need special immunizations or medicine?
  • Is there an onsite university liaison that can assist during an emergency situation?
  • Are you ready for an open-ended adventure?

Your reaction to the above questions should help sort out whether studying abroad sounds like a good fit. If so, start researching available programs.

If you’ve already studied abroad, please share your wisdom with those who may be sitting on the fence wondering whether they should sign on the dotted line.

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About The Author

Sandy Bornstein

Sandy Bornstein lived as an expat in India. Her award-winning memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, highlights what she learned as the only American teacher at an international Bangalore school. After living abroad, Sandy continues to explore the world and write about her travels. You can follow Sandy's adventures at www.sandrabornstein.com.