Travelling is becoming more and more popular – on a daily basis. It is hard to find people who do not like to travel. In fact, in my own humble opinion, I think those who don’t like travelling simply haven’t gone on their best journey yet.
Study abroad is even more fascinating than the average travel journey. While spending time studying in another country, you develop yourself and your understanding of a foreign culture as well as your own. When talking to fellow students, I hear about lots of opportunities to study abroad, but also encounter many students who are scared of even applying, overwhelmed by many of the myths about study abroad that abound.
Let me tell you, I have studied abroad several times, first in high school and then in college, and have travelled a lot, so I’m here to debunk the myths.
Myth #1: You have to know the local language to study abroad
That is absolutely not true. Every country has at least several study abroad programs in English. Check with your university advisor, or simply start by doing a Google search online. Email the corresponding program director and just ask. English is more widespread than you think!
Myth #2: Studying abroad is extremely expensive
Yes, and no. The price for each study abroad program varies, so be sure to check with your home university advisor early in the application process. There are scholarships available for study abroad programs, be sure to look into:
- Scholarship options at your home university
- Scholarship options directly through your program
- Third-party scholarships, such as the Gilman Scholarship
- Inquire whether any financial aid from your home university will transfer
Another tip is to look into exchange rates before you go, and destinations that might possibly be cheaper in terms of living expenses.
Myth #3: Courses abroad are so much more difficult than at home
Not really. Everything depends on your major (and your intelligence, of course), but, for example, going to med school or studying law is considered one of the “harder” fields in any country. When you study abroad, look into what courses will be available before you go. You might even be able to consult what professors will be teaching them, and what the course requirements and deadlines are in order to prepare yourself beforehand. If you’re still abroad and find it hard, seek help from your university – you might meet some fun locals at a study group and immerse yourself in the local university in a way you had not even thought of!
Myth #4: Professors abroad don’t care about you
In my experience, an absolutely false assumption. My professors have always been there to help me. After all, they became professors for a reason. Email them a question, talk during office hours or set up a separate meeting. Usually, they will try to make sure that you understand everything and that you are working correctly on the project or task you have been given. I experience a number of situations where professors helped me outside of class, just with organizational things about the university abroad that I didn’t understand. You can always ASK. Don’t be shy.
Myth #5: People abroad do not like international students
Imagine: a new person with a totally different experience comes to class, will you talk to him/her? Exactly! We are all unique and most people like to get to know new information and ask questions about different countries. Every time I came to a new class or school, everybody asked me tons of question about my home country. People usually ask all sorts of questions and that’s what I like the most about the study abroad experience. You get to really know each other, get some kind of cultural exchange and after that your view of the same country will be different than before.
Myth #6: Studying abroad is mostly partying abroad
Luckily or unfortunately, it is not. Of course, you can go out and hang out with new friends but always remember that you will be treated equally with your peers. If you don’t complete a task, you fail. You will not get excuses for being “an international student” (especially not a lazy one). That is why it is always important to first study and then party.
Myth #7: It is too late to study abroad.
It is never late to study or change your life. A lot of people get their second degree or study a totally different major even after having families and careers. If you want to make it happen, you can!
Myth #8: Studying abroad will delay graduation.
No, it will not. If you participate in a study abroad program that is approved by your institution AND you study a field that related to your major, your credits can be transferred to your college/university. Check before you go and make sure all the necessary forms are filled out.
Myth #9: Travelling abroad gives you the same experience as studying abroad
Not really. I have travelled to over 20 countries but only studied abroad in two. Sure, you get to know some information about culture, history, and traditions while travelling but it is different from actually living and studying somewhere. First of all, you stay longer while studying and get to know more. Secondly, you get a chance to “study”. Education systems and approaches vary from one country to another. Moreover, as I mentioned above you get a precious cultural exchange, and I doubt that you can get all of that in a few days.
Myth #10: Your future employers do not care about your study abroad experience
Nowadays, a lot of employers are recruiting workers who can work cross-culturally and speak foreign languages. Studying abroad doesn’t only improve your English skills but it also gives you an opportunity to get foreign qualifications in the major you study. Employers will always value an experienced worker with broadened outlook. Moreover, if you decide to stay in the country you went just to study abroad in, they may want to see a certificate or diploma from their own country and see your background as diverse and beneficial.
There are a lot of other myths and hacks on living, working, and staying abroad, but for now, I hope you feel more confident about getting “study abroad” experience. Both of my experiences studying abroad changed me as a person. I became more independent, opened-minded and easy-going – got rid of a lot of stereotypes about other countries. I believe that this experience will always be worth the money and effort you put in it. All in all, we study during our whole life, so why not try and study somewhere else?