Getting the opportunity to study abroad is exciting, especially if you haven’t traveled much before. You’ll experience many new things, meet new people, make new friends, and see some fantastic sights.
However, for all of the positives of studying abroad, there are just as many challenges that you may face as well. This is not to say that studying abroad is a bad idea, but before you take the leap, you should take the time to understand what you are getting into.
The more research you do ahead of time, the more likely you are to have a better experience. Below, we’ll dive into some top things to consider to help you decide if studying abroad is right for you.
1. The Educational Benefits
Let’s start with something positive — the academic benefits.
Studying abroad fosters learning and intellectual development, which have been shown to improve grade point averages and completion rates. So even though you may have to learn a new curriculum structure depending on where you study abroad, the educational benefits are generally worth it.
Furthermore, many study abroad programs offer access to majors or courses that might not be available to you in the States. So not only will studying in a different country potentially help you improve your grades, but it can also provide you with more learning opportunities.
2. Travel and Moving Logistics
While moving to another country to study might be exciting, it will also come with its challenges. For example, just the logistics of getting everything together so you can move overseas can be a nightmare if you aren’t fully prepared.
You’ll need to sort out your travel documents, like your passport and visa, and make sure your parents have copies in case you lose them. You’ll also need to figure out how to move things over with you or if you’ll just buy new items once you’re there.
For example, if you have a vehicle, will you ship it or leave it at home with your parents? Shipping a car overseas is possible, but it can be expensive. However, if you will need a way to get around once you’re there and public transportation isn’t an option, then shipping your car is worth considering.
3. Healthcare Logistics
You also need to consider how you will receive and pay for medical care when you are studying abroad. The last thing you want is to end up sick in another country and not know how to get the help you need. Even if you are in good health, with no preexisting conditions, you never know what could happen.
So it’s a good idea to sit down and look at your health plan. Some health insurance carriers provide overseas coverage, while others don’t. If yours doesn’t, you should look into overseas student health insurance and research the healthcare facilities you will have access to once you are there.
4. Culture Shock and Language Barriers
While getting to experience a new culture is exciting and beneficial to you, it can also be a big adjustment. Many study-abroad students find that learning to adapt to a new culture — such as new traditions, languages, policies, and behaviors — can be difficult and can negatively impact their learning experience.
In short, studying abroad can be a culture shock, and if you don’t speak the native language of the area you’re studying, it can make things even harder. That being said, if you prepare for these big changes and know what to expect, you might have an easier time adjusting.
5. Financial Challenges
Managing your finances can be another challenge when studying abroad. Not only is there the cost of studying at an international university to consider, but there are many other out-of-pocket expenses. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for study-abroad students to run out of money in these situations.
So before you move overseas for your education, ensure you have a solid financial plan. You’ll need to budget for things like food, personal items, transportation costs, entertainment, and extracurricular activities. You may also need to get financial support from your parents or look into getting a job while you’re abroad.
6. Personal Growth and Opportunities
Ending on a positive note, studying abroad can teach you many things about yourself and open you up to many new opportunities. It can teach you new skills, such as self-awareness, communication, independence, and adaptability. And it can open your eyes to new cultural experiences and help you make new friends.
Study abroad experience also looks good on a resume, which can open you up to more career opportunities, both in your home country and where you studied.
Though studying abroad has some potential downsides, don’t let this deter you. If you really want to study in a new country and experience a new culture, there is no reason why you can’t make that happen. You’ll simply be more likely to have success and enjoy the experiences if you take the time to do some research and fully prepare yourself for the things you will face.
SEE ALSO: 10 Splendid All Time Academic Benefits of Studying Abroad