It's true what they say about studying abroad: it's an experience you'll never forget. I just came back to the US after studying in Italy for three months and I learned so much while I was there. Not just a new culture and a new language, but also about traveling and living abroad. If you want to or are planning on studying abroad, here are 12 pros and cons to look forward to and be prepared for:
1. Pro: Being in a new country. This is the most exciting part about studying abroad. If you're not used to traveling or, like me, have never traveled outside of the US before, then spending a whole semester in a foreign country is as fun as it is overwhelming.
2. Con: Culture shock. This is the overwhelming part. By the middle of the semester you will be familiar with your new temporary home, but the first few weeks are the toughest part as you try to settle down, figure your way around and blend in with the locals. And as crazy as it sounds, you will also experience culture shock when you come back to the US.
3. Pro: Being independent. Living on your own while studying abroad is different from living on your own in a college dorm. Some colleges have their own campuses abroad where you'll be in a dorm like back home, or your program may put you in an apartment, a hotel, or living with a local family. Either way, it's more fun than being in a college dorm. After a while you'll feel like you're a local yourself!
4. Con: Figuring things out on your own. You'll have a new appreciation for basic housing necessities back home because in most other countries, they can be luxuries. My apartment in Italy didn't have a dryer, dishwasher or an electric stove, which all took some getting used to in the first weeks. Also, everything will be in a foreign language, which made it extra difficult to figure out how to wash my clothes.
5. Pro: Learning a new language. Unless you're studying in an English-speaking country, one of the pluses of studying abroad is learning a new language. It helps you immerse more in a new culture, and you'll get to impress your friends when you come back home!
6. Con: Not being fluent in the language. Unless you learned from an early age or are a genius, learning a new language, while fun, is not easy. Being in a foreign country challenges you to learn the language but whether it's for a few weeks, a few months or even a year, chances are you will not be fluent by the end.
7. Pro: Traveling. In between classes and homework, you will have plenty of opportunities to travel outside whichever city you are studying in to see other cities or even other countries. Traveling and sightseeing on the weekends really makes the most of your time abroad, and makes for great study breaks!
8. Con: Being broke. Taking out money in a foreign country is a hassle. Currency exchange rates can be crazy and depending on which bank you use, you will be charged a ton of fees. Studying abroad takes "broke college student" to a whole new level.
9. Pro: Meeting new people. Don't take it personally if the locals are a little cold towards you in the beginning but after a while, if you go to the same restaurant or shop enough times, they will warm up to you. You might even make some new, international friends while you're there!
10. Con: Long distance friendships. Skyping with your friends at 3 in the morning (when it's afternoon for them) is definitely not as nice as actually hanging out with them. You'll miss your friends and might feel like you're missing out on parties or get-togethers while you're away. Also, if you make any friends with the locals while you're there, having to go back home will be even more bittersweet.
11. Pro: Coming back home. As fun and exciting as studying abroad is, there will be times where you will feel homesick. It's great to learn a new language and be in a new culture, but you will begin to miss home, where all your family and friends are, and at least where people speak the same language and everything is familiar.
12. Con: Coming back home. But let's be honest, you're going to fall in love with wherever you studied and it will be super hard leaving at the end of the semester. Wherever you study will become your second home—after all, you're not a tourist but a "temporary resident." You will love being back home after being away for so long, but you will also miss being abroad. Also, the 10 hour flight back home will not be a pleasant journey.
Everywhere we hear what excellent opportunities are given to those who chose to be educated abroad. However, the question always has a dark side to the coin. Will weigh all the pros and cons.
Let us first consider the pros of studying abroad.
Of course, a diploma in a prestigious college in Europe or America is what make your parents proud, gives you an advantage in finding a good job, not to mention the unique and unforgettable adventure, new acquaintances with representatives of different countries and cultures.
Education at a renowned University gives you such set of skills, which is much more practical than at any of your local institution. This means research, grants, and the opportunity to demonstrate and test yourself. But, besides all this, it is an opportunity to learn a new language.
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And finally, if you decide to enroll in a foreign University, you will have an opportunity to not only work in your country. If you will be able to confirm your degree in another language, you can get a job where this language is officially recognized, and, therefore, it creates opportunities for career growth.
However, with all the positive sides, taking such an important decision, you need to be realistic. Therefore, you should consider and the complications that may arise.
What are those cons?
First, it is not as easy as it seems at first glance to enroll in a foreign University. In addition to the need to prepare documents, potential students should have basic knowledge of the language of the country in which the basic subjects are taught. Therefore, many of the applicants spend many years preparing for the education abroad.
Secondly, the cost of education in America or Europe are not acceptable for all. It sometimes far exceeds the cost of education, even in the most prestigious universities of your country.
Thirdly, many of the students exchange programs do not implement their advertising slogans. Some students have complained that they were obliged to seek work and shelter in a foreign country, as the company promises turned out to be far from reality.
And, fourthly, we must always remember about the difference in cultures and attitudes of their natives. Don't get upset because some of the residents of a foreign country, don’t like or don't understand you. This is quite normal, because you grew up in very different circumstances and traditions.
In addition to all this, you have to remember that even simple household situation (a late plane, the language barrier and the forgetfulness, etc.) in the tipping point could play a crucial role and bring you back home. So try to remain objective.
Thus, study abroad is not an easy task. However, after carefully weighing all the pros and cons you will always be able to comet the only correct decision.
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