The Real Value of Study Abroad

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Study abroad: a time when college university students get to pick their city of choice to live and study in. With programs costing more than $16,000, and students spending up to $10,000 on traveling, what is the real value of studying abroad?

The number of study abroad students has been increasingly rising. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators the number of U.S. students studying abroad for credit during the 2015-2016 academic year grew 3.8 percent from 313,415 students to 325,229 students.

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Popular locations vary all throughout Europe, even venturing into Australia. According to Access Masters, the post popular destinations for students in 2017 United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany.

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What seems to vary more is the field students focus on whilst studying abroad. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and Business and Management studies are two fields that students tend to study the most– 25.2% for STEM and 20.9% for Business and Management. However, Liberal Arts such as Communications and Journalism are also preferred fields for American students.

However, gaining credits abroad is only one of the benefits students see in studying abroad. For most students, study abroad is seen as a semester long vacation. It enables them to travel Europe, Asia, or whichever continent they’re in; soaking up the culture, food, and alcohol.

While students can view their experience however they’d like, employers, parents, and universities alike all see study abroad as not only an invaluable life experience, but a resume builder as well.

In this TED Talk, Marina Meijer explains the benefits of studying international. In short, she explains that she would not be the person she was had she not studied abroad, nor would she be there had she not studied abroad.

Below is an interview with Paula Scipio-Menifiee, a student who studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland last Fall. Scipio-Menifee currently attends American University in Washington, DC, however attended Trinity College while in Dublin.

In the video below she explains what she gained out of her international experience:

Paula describes studying abroad as a once in a lifetime experience, an experience she couldn’t think of reason to not do it.

As mentioned in the interview above, study abroad enabled Paula to travel all over the world. Her Instagram page is private which explains the lack of embedded posts.

Below are a few of her favorite abroad memories:

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While studying abroad enables people to grow in many ways, not everyone needs the experience in their life. Lindsay Zambrano, transferred universities going into her third year of college. Most students usually go abroad either spring of their third year, or fall of their fourth year.

The now 25-year-old explains there were multiple reasons she didn’t, and couldn’t study abroad. Not only did she want to optimize her time while at her new university she loved so much, she also was a Biology major. Her rigorous curriculum made it hard to find a program in which she could gain credits for her higher level courses.

In the video below Zambrano talks about her life without studying abroad:

 

As Zambrano mentioned, although she was unable to dedicate four months to abroad, she was able to travel in her adulthood. From Nice, France to New Orleans, Lousiana, Zambrano feels she has not missed out on an experience at all.

Below are a few snapshots of her favorite travel memories. Zambrano does not have an Instagram.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 3.02.27 AM.pngNashville, Tennesee

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Nice, France

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Monte Carlo, Monaco

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As with any experience, or really anything in life there are both pros and cons to consider. While these possible pros and cons were mentioned in the post above, below is an easy list indicating all the possible advantages and disadvantages.

It is important the reader acknowledge these are not all the possible pros and cons, and might not apply to everyone. Read the list below, and find out if study abroad is right for you

        PROS         

  • Experience a new culture
    • Living in a new country completely emmerses a person in the country’s culture, which is usually much different than their own.
  • Meeting new people and making new friends
    • Most study abroad programs and universities are students from a mixture of different schools and countries allowing students to make new friends.
  • Learning a new language
    • Again, students are completely emmersed in the culture which allows them to practice the language with native speakers.

             CONS         

  • Fees and living costs
    • Traveling can be very expensive. Also, many programs and universities do not offer meal plans, so students either need to eat out or buy groceries to cook for themselves.
  • Homesickness
    • Not everyone can handle being so far away from home for such a long amount of time, which would make studying in a different country almost unbearable.
  • Falling behind on studies abroad
    • It is easy to fall behind in student’s home base, let alone when they are traveling every weekend. Being so busy and excited to learn about a new country can make it hard for students to focus on their school work.

This pros and cons list should help you decide whether you should study abroad, or if it was right for you. Traveling and being far away from home can be hard for some, and if study abroad doesn’t seem like the right fit for you there are always other experiences to travel around the world when it seems right for you!

On the other hand, if study abroad does seem like an option for you; do a lot of research, eat a lot of food while you’re abroad, and have fun!

 

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