Why Study Abroad as a College Student?
First, I would like to ask another question – WHY NOT STUDY ABROAD AS A COLLEGE STUDENT? With so many opportunities that are built around college student abroad programs, the low numbers of students abroad is actually kind of sad.
Here are some reasons why you should study abroad – specifically as a college student.
1. You never know what will happen in life. I’ve heard of many friends who have graduated from high school or college and then settled down right away to get married and have kids. Your time in college is when you are free to do things for you – and includes options that you might not be able to do later on in life (due to short vacation time, need to help out older relatives, raising a family, etc.) So if you have the time – do it!
2. You can still graduate on time. You heard me – on time. I studied abroad for a semester and still graduated with my bachelors degree in 4 years. I know of other friends who have gone abroad for two or three semesters and still graduate within 4 years. It is entirely possible – as long as you talk with your academic advisor and study abroad office to ensure everything is worked out ahead of time.
3. Sports and friends will still be there when you return. Out of my friend group, I was the only one who studied abroad for a semester. Yes, it did make it hard to reconnect with some friends once I returned for the fall of my senior year in college but the friends that mean that most will be the ones that will write to you and keep you informed of things that are going on back home. You might not be able to watch your college team play every home game – but as life gets busier, you might not be able to do that as an adult either.
4. It will be the cheapest time to do it. Initially, your extra couple of thousands of dollars to cover flights, passport, etc. might seem a bit high. When looking at it from a big picture though, a trip to Rwanda and Tanzania cost me about $4,500 for 11 days. My semester in South Africa, which lasted five and a half months, cost me only an extra $4000 – including spending money, flights, excursions, etc. as many of the expenses for food and housing were covered by my school.
5. As a young adult, you have the freedom to go abroad without parents and yet are old enough to take care of yourself (for the most part) and to enjoy the experience more than you would as an 8-year-old on a family trip. Likewise, you will have more time to explore than if you are lucky enough to go abroad for work or other personal reasons.
There are other reasons that are applicable to people of all ages who study or travel abroad:
* Gain new skills and awareness of the world;
* Add something to your resume;
* Explore a new part of the world; and
* Make connections and friends from other cultures.
However, I am steadfast in my belief that every student really does have the opportunity to study abroad when in college. It just becomes a matter of dedication to figure out where the extra money comes from, making sure all the legalities are worked out, etc. – all minor issues to resolve when considering what can be the best opportunity of your life!