Continuing on the rant from the previous post, I think a lot more people should study abroad, whether it is for a short term (a semester or a summer), or a long-term (6-months or an academic year.) The chance to studying abroad can be used to get cultural exposure, language knowledge, and gaining friends. But it can also be used as a way to temporarily escape to travel or to figure your life out. Either way, you’ll gain a lot of skills, i.e. independence, problem solving, and communication & language skills.
When people do not study abroad, I hear a lot of these reasons:
- 1. It’s expensive and I don’t have the money
- 2. I don’t have the time
- 3. It doesn’t relate to my major and it will prolong my degree
- 4. I’m too old
- 5. Scary
First, let me just say that all of these reasons are valid. There are people who don’t want to go away from their friends and family for a long time. There are people who just don’t have money. There are people who just want to get their college degree over with. But before you go and decide that studying abroad is not for you, whatever that means, let me break down all of these fears and reasoning so that you can get another person’s perspective. Take it from a person who has studied studied abroad before. Though I mostly talk about my Japan experience, these generally apply to other places as well.
- No money? Well, most schools hook you up with a scholarship
- Not convinced? You actually pay the same in tuition.
- Still not convinced? You can apply for private scholarships and support
- Still won’t have enough money? Work part time under the table, or get a work permit abroad. It’s not hard. Everyone does it. Don’t be lazy!
- Not related to your major? You can transfer the credits as a general/arts credits. I know all of ya’ll need those.
- Not convinced? Most schools have partnerships with schools abroad that actually have similar programs. And some are also in English. That means most of your credits will transfer.
- Still not convinced? Just go for a summer or a semester. A lot of companies will actually look for people who have had that exposure. From being a psychologist (being able to relate to people of different backgrounds) to Engineers and designers (using design influences and tech. from other countries)
- Too old? Too old??? What does that even mean? Do you really want to be one of those 70 year-old guys traveling in a tour bus with your shirts tucked in your pants? Travel while you still can. While you’re still young and healthy. Travel while you still don’t have the weight of the world.
- Scary? Do you have anxiety or depression? Well, most schools have an on-sight psychologist. They will be able to speak English and honestly, you won’t be the only foreigner that has visited a psychologist.
- Still scared? Most countries nowadays have mental health institutions and firms that cater specifically to foreigners. Remember you won’t be the only foreigner living there. There are other people who work and have families there. If you have travel insurance, some will cover that.
- Still freakin’ scared? Dude, you can bring all your meds to that country.
- You don’t know anybody there? That’s alright. Most study abroad program are designed so that you will feel comfortable, have fun, and meet people at the same time. They will assign you to a “buddy” or “tutor” from that country who is bilingual to help you get settled in and take care of basic needs such as shopping, getting a phone, setting up your ID, etc.
- Not enough? You will have an orientation and tour before school starts to meet other exchange students and explore the area a bit. These people will probably be your neighbor and
- Still not enough? Most schools have clubs or groups dedicated to hanging out with foreigners. This sounds weird at first but it’s actually not. They are there because they want to practice English, have international friends, or get travel tips from people from the countries they will be traveling to or studying abroad to.
I hope these reasons will sway you into studying abroad; in my case, I studied abroad in Japan and it honestly was the best time of my life. More on that another time.