10 Reasons To Study Abroad
As someone who did an exchange year abroad, a master’s degree abroad, and a summer studying a foreign language abroad I would highly recommend studying in another country. Whether it’s one month, half a year, or an entire degree there are lots of benefits and good reasons to study in a foreign country.
- Save Money
Surprise! One of the first things that you might be thinking is that you can’t study in another country because it’s too expensive and you can’t afford it. Money is always one of the first things people ask me about when I mention having studied in foreign countries for over three years. And when I’m asked why I chose to study in another country, and I tell people because it was cheaper, they are always surprised.
If you come from a country where the price of going to university is high, you can save money by studying in a country where the cost of going to university is much lower. There are many countries in Europe were university is free, even if you are a foreign student. My personal belief is that you shouldn’t have to take out huge loans and go into debt to study. I didn’t want to graduate under piles of student debt, so I did some research to find out which countries I could study in, where tuition was free or a fraction of the cost it would have been if I had studied at home in Canada. The university where I ended up doing my master’s degree in Austria was not free, it was around $1,200 a year. However, the cheapest tuition in Canada is more than $2,600 a year. So even if I had gone to the cheapest university in Canada I still would have had to pay over double what I paid in tuition in Austria. Also, in many countries, student dorms are also subsidized. If I had stayed in a dorm (at the university where I did my BBA in Canada) to do my masters, I would have been paying almost $11,000 a year on rent. Instead, living at the student dorms in Austria I was paying around $3,500 a year in rent. Over two years that’s $15,000 I saved just in rent!
So don’t assume that you can’t afford to study abroad. Before you start piling up student debt, do some research and explore all your options – at home and abroad!
- Experience a New Culture
It’s one thing to travel to a country and it’s another to live in a country. It’s not possible to fully immerse yourself in, or experience, another culture in a vacation. If you are living in a country you have much more time to explore and learn about the country, it’s culture, and it’s people.
- Travel Travel Travel!
If you are living in a new part of the world you will have time to travel within the country and also to surrounding locations. Studying is a great chance to see another part of the world! As a student you generally have a good amount of travel time as you have many holidays such as summer break, winter break, spring break and so on. Being from Canada I could only travel to another country, besides the US, by flying for at least 3 hours and spending hundreds of dollars. When I lived in Austria I could travel for less than 1 hour by train and be in Hungary. In less than 1.5 hours I could be in Slovakia. In under 2 hours I could be in the Czech Republic. Because I studied in a foreign country I was able to do tons of more travelling than I would have been able to do at home.
- Become More Independent
No more relying on your mom to make your dinner or your dad to fix your computer. Living in another country will come with some challenges, but at the same time you will learn a lot. When you’re on the another side of the world you’ll need to figure out a lot of things on your own and learn to rely on yourself. You probably won’t have any family of friends (initially) when you move so you will need to rely on yourself to get things done and figure things out. This might sound scary but if you can move to a foreign country alone then you will feel like you can do anything!
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone
If you always stay in your comfort zone, I think you will miss out on a lot in life and never fully realise your potential. You will never really know what you are capable of and you risk living with a list of regrets.
When I first left home, at 19 to study abroad, I had never lived away from home before or travelled alone before. I was shy and quiet and hated going anywhere alone. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and it was worth it, by the end of the year I had much more confidence and was a lot more outgoing and independent than I had ever been before.
Many universities offer assistant programs to foreign or exchange students to help with the transition. When I went on exchange I had been assigned a buddy who picked me up from the airport and helped me get settled. When researching schools, check to see which ones offer some kind of assistant program for foreign students, it can make things easier and less stressful if they do.
- Make yourself stand out
When you apply for a job, it can be hard to stand out. Having some international experience can help to set you apart from others. Employers, and people in general, will always want to hear about your adventures.
- Meet people from all over the world
Until two years ago, I’m embarrassed to say, I had never heard of the country of Azerbaijan. And if it wasn’t for studying in an international program, I probably would still not know the first thing about the place. Many universities abroad offer international programs which are taught in English, these programs attract people from all over the world giving you the chance to meet a very international group of people. The whole time I was studying I was the only Canadian in my program. It was common that I would find myself out with a group of people and everyone would be from a different country, which is really cool because you get to learn about your internationals friends home countries. It also makes for some interesting conversations as you have opinions from people with many different backgrounds and experiences. You learn about new parts of the world and your friends will probably be enthusiastic to you make you foods from their home country. I always thought it was interesting to hear about how people on other sides of the world grew up, the differences and the similarities.
- Learn a new language
The best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it. And the best way to do that is to surround yourself with native speakers. It is, of course, more expensive than taking a course at home but if you have the money and are really passionate about learning a language and experiencing a new culture at the same time, it can be a worthwhile experience.
- Gives you a new perspective
Spending time in a new place, and living through all the experiences that come with it, will change the way you look at the world. It will change you more than you can imagine in many great ways and you will come back home a different person. You will see your problems from a new perspective and gain new insights into your life and how you see the world.
- Have a great experience you will remember for the rest of your life
Lastly, but very importantly, you should study abroad because it’s a great experience. I know, I know it sounds cliché to say you will make great memories that will last the rest of your life but its true! Some of my favorite memories, trips, and people I met while studying abroad. So what are you waiting for!?
For more of Alannah's great travel tips and stories, visit her online at www.itchyfeetravel.com