My little sister is studying abroad this semester and it has made me extremely nostalgic for my study abroad days. I know you didn’t ask for my advice and you probably don’t want it either. It’s like when my dad would sit down and be like here’s some free advice kiddo and I would just roll my eyes and stare at the ceiling (I should have been nicer…oops sorry, Dad!). But I’m channeling my father and telling you the best advice that I could possibly give and that is you HAVE to study abroad in college. Here’s why:
Once in a lifetime opportunity
You will never again get the opportunity to spend a semester abroad for basically what it costs you to go to school already. For the more expensive programs, there are plenty of scholarships that are out there. They want you to study abroad and they make it very easy to do so! I highly recommend using API. That is the program I used and it was a great value for my money and they had plenty of excursions included in the cost.
You’ll regret it if you don’t
Almost everyone I know who didn’t study abroad in college regrets it to this day. I know college can be a busy time and taking a semester to satiate your wanderlust can be hard, but trust me it’s worth it. And if you absolutely cannot do a semester, at least go for a summer. There are plenty of programs in the summer around the world!
There will be no other time in your life that you can spend almost 6 months in another country for almost the same cost as going to school. All of the study abroad programs are very affordable and most offer some sort of partial scholarship. There are even programs that allow you to pay your normal tuition and then you switch with another student in a different country who is also paying his/her tuition! Your scholarships that you currently receive from your school can also apply. For example, I attended the University of South Carolina and was receiving a full ride through scholarship money and when I went to study abroad all I had to do was pay for the cost of my plane ticket! I met people who didn’t even have to pay for that because they had that covered by a scholarship through one of the study abroad programs.
Most schools are pass/fail which means things like laying by the river, going to the beach, or drinking all day instead of studying for your finals. (erm…i mean study people!!) Okay, on a serious note, the opportunity to take classes in another country is incredible. I took History of Spanish Art which is a class I would never have taken in the US and I loved every minute of it. You have the chance to learn something new without the pressure of getting the highest grade possible.
You will truly meet lifelong friends when you study abroad. Think about how cool you’ll sound when people ask you where you and your friend met. Yeah we met in a quaint little café at a peak overlooking the Alhambra and the sprawling grounds in Granada. I mean hello…can you be more awesome? And yes, this is how I met one of my best friends.
Travel to surrounding countries
When I studied abroad in Spain, I travelled to 7 other countries and I did it for wayyy cheaper than if I had travelled from the US. Sure, I had to take a bus, 3 trains, and sleep outside of an airport to catch my flight back to Spain but that’s another story and trust me, it was oh so worth it. Here’s looking at you Italy.
Get to know the city you’re living in
As I mentioned above, you have the opportunity to travel to surrounding countries. Make sure you strike a balance between your travel and exploring the city you live in. You’ll want to skip out on a few trips so you have some weekends to enjoy your new home. Spending a few months in a different country will really give you the chance to get to know the ins and outs and intricate details that you may not be able to experience if you were only there for a few days. Again, you’ll never have the opportunity to study abroad again!
Immersion in another culture
I can’t stress enough how traveling to a country for a week or so is way different than living in a country for 5-6 months. You start to learn how to act like a local and you roll your eyes at all of the tourists going nuts snapping pictures of the cathedral. I mean does your camera really have to be the size of your body?
Opportunity to learn a new language
There’s nothing like living with someone who doesn’t speak a lick of English and having to figure out how to say “Please stop waking me up on the weekends for breakfast. I’m not sick, I’m just hungover as hell”
You can eat your heart out with zero judgment
We all know that I don’t care if people judge me while I shovel food into my face but studying abroad is truly the time where you can eat anything and everything. Everyone is in the same boat as you and is looking to sample all the local cuisine. You’ll get to try some eclectic options and you’ll sound cool as hell when you return to your home and you talk about how the paella that you had while you studied abroad was life changing
There are numerous other reasons to study abroad. Of course, I’m going to recommend that you study in Seville, Spain because I left a piece of my heart there and I know you will too.