While conducting social media outreach, I read so many enthusiastic tweets about study abroad. I also read a lot of tweets about why someone is NOT going abroad. Here are six of them and why you should not say these things when deciding whether or not to do it:
“I’ll only study abroad if I can go to __________.” Alternatively, “I’d study abroad, but only in __________,” or “If I don’t get to study abroad in __________, I’m not going.” I understand having a clear idea of where you imagine yourself living for a semester or even a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t consider other options. This “all or nothing” mentality is going to be very limiting, especially since it may already be difficult to go abroad due to finances, academics, or simply the timing. Additionally, you may like the idea of a country, only to visit or actually study there and find out you don’t like it at all. On the other hand, you might warm up to countries you initially felt “meh” about, and wish you’d studied there instead. So remember to be open-minded and flexible. Even if you have a dream destination that you can’t get to, don’t let that stop you from going abroad at all. (Confession time: when researching programs, I was determined to avoid Spain at all costs because I figured I’d end up there at another point in my life, so I wanted to use my study abroad semester to explore another destination. When I didn’t find a suitable program that I was really interested in, I decided to give Spain a chance. I went to Barcelona and absolutely fell in love with Spain.)
“I want to study abroad, but I don’t have anyone to go with.” You’re basically saying, “I can’t study abroad alone.” YES, you can! I already wrote about great reasons to study abroad alone. You won’t regret it.
“I’d love to study abroad, but I can’t imagine being away from _______ for so long.” Fill in the blank with things like my boyfriend/girlfriend, family, friends, dogs, CHIPOTLE (yeah I’ve seen that), and so on. Study abroad isn’t limited to semester/year-long programs. There are short-term study abroad programs for a few weeks, if you don’t feel that you could handle being homesick or being away from your loved ones for so long. Trust me, once you get out there, though, time will fly by and chances are you’ll wish you’d picked a longer program!
“I can’t study abroad; I’d miss (insert sports team here) playing!” I don’t understand this one. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been into sports, but I can’t imagine giving up the study abroad experience to watch sports. You can find ways to watch the games abroad, whether in a pub or via internet streaming.
“I’d never study abroad. Why would anyone want to leave the US?” One thing I’ve learned: as Americans, we are quite ethnocentric and xenophobic. Newsflash: we’re not the best at everything. One important reason to study abroad is to dispel myths and stereotypes, especially about what life is like outside of the US. Traveling to other countries will also cause you to reflect on your own culture and country, and will bring a new perspective.
“I’d study abroad if it weren’t so expensive.” Studying abroad doesn’t have to be expensive! In fact, my semester abroad with ISA cost roughly the same, if not slightly less, than two quarters at UCI would have cost. If you receive federal aid, you may be able to apply it towards your program. There are also scholarships and grants you can apply for to help cover the tuition. (Don’t forget to check out IIE’s Study Abroad Funding directory too!)
Have you heard any other reasons against going abroad?