by Jen Barnett
One of the biggest advantages to studying abroad for a semester is the chance to experience a different culture and education system on a short-term basis. You can gain valuable international experience, learn new cultures and customs, and make friends with students from other countries without committing long-term to living in that country. Additionally, you may be able to take classes that are not available to you in your home country, giving you a more varied educational experience.
The main drawbacks of studying abroad for a semester are that it can be expensive and difficult to adjust to a new culture quickly. Be sure to learn which classes transfer back to your school for letter grades and which don’t. Additionally, if your goal is to become fluent in a new language, it can be difficult to reach that level of proficiency in such a short amount of time.
Mainly, though, semester- or year-long study abroad programs are generally “curated” experiences, not unlike taking a big group trip. Well-established, structured programs take care of most of the details and charge you a premium to do so. If you want to dip a toe in the water and experience another country without the risks and hassles of figuring it out yourself, this is probably the way to go.
Getting your degree abroad comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The main subjective advantage is the opportunity for an immersive experience living and studying abroad for several years. This allows you to gain more insight into a new culture, learn the language more effectively, and make lasting connections with other international students. Objectively, though, you could save a fortune by attending college in another country, saving tens or hundreds of thousands on tuition, rent, food, and other expenses, depending on where you go to school.
The main drawback is the time and effort it will take to research countries, schools, and programs yourself, the paperwork, and the risk of not being happy in a new country. This is something all expats and immigrants go through, and there’s no way to know how you’ll like it until you go. If you’re blessed with resilience and a positive attitude, you’ll have a better chance of settling in. Decide for yourself if the benefits of earning your degree abroad outweigh the risks.
If you’re a DIY person who likes to manage a project and reap big rewards, this could be the option for you.
If you have the opportunity to experience either, it is well worth considering as both can be extremely rewarding and life-changing experiences. Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for your individual lifestyle and goals in order to make an informed decision.