Dear Judge Josh,
I’m a college sophomore, and I’ve been considering studying abroad for a semester. I’ve always been interested in experiencing different cultures and broadening my horizons. However, I’m worried about the additional costs, leaving my friends and support system behind, and potentially falling behind academically. I’m also concerned that I might miss out on important events or opportunities on campus while I’m away. How do I decide whether studying abroad is the right choice for me, and how can I make the most of the experience if I do decide to go?
Hey Study Abroad Struggle,
Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, but it’s normal to have concerns and hesitations. To help you make an informed decision, consider the following factors:
- Academic Alignment: Research the programs available in your desired study abroad location and ensure that they align with your major and academic goals. Speak with your academic advisor to confirm that the credits you earn abroad will transfer and keep you on track for graduation.
- Finances: Investigate the costs associated with studying abroad, including tuition, housing, travel, and daily living expenses. Look into scholarships, grants, or financial aid options that might be available to help offset these costs. Keep in mind that the cost of living in some countries might be lower than in your home country, which could help balance out additional expenses.
- Support System: While you may be leaving your friends and support system behind, studying abroad offers the opportunity to create new connections and friendships. Embrace the chance to meet new people and immerse yourself in a different culture.
- Opportunities: Weigh the potential benefits of studying abroad against the opportunities you might miss on campus. Consider whether the unique experiences, personal growth, and global perspective you’ll gain abroad outweigh any temporary drawbacks.
- Embracing Change: Studying abroad involves embracing change and stepping outside of
your comfort zone. Reflect on your personal resilience and adaptability. Are you ready for the challenges and rewards that come with living in a different country?
If you do decide to study abroad, here are some tips to make the most of your experience:
- Engage with the Local Community: Make an effort to interact with locals, whether it’s by participating in community events, joining clubs, or volunteering. These experiences will deepen your understanding of the local culture and create lasting memories.
- Travel Responsibly: Take advantage of your time abroad to explore nearby cities or countries, but do so responsibly. Be respectful of local customs, and prioritize sustainability in your travel choices.
- Maintain Connections: Stay in touch with friends and family back home through regular video calls or messages. This will help you maintain your support system and share your experiences with your loved ones.
- Document Your Journey: Keep a journal or blog to record your thoughts, feelings, and experiences while studying abroad. This can help you process your emotions, stay connected with friends and family, and create a keepsake of your time abroad.
- Embrace Personal Growth: Studying abroad will inevitably present challenges, but view them as opportunities for growth. Embrace new experiences, learn from your mistakes, and appreciate the personal development that comes with living in a different country.
Remember, the decision to study abroad is a personal one that depends on your priorities, goals, and readiness for change. If you feel that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, take the leap and embrace the adventure. With the right mindset and preparation, studying abroad can be an enriching and transformative experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.