Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

Asako Maruoka's picture

College offers many brilliant opportunities. One of the most advantageous is the possibility to study abroad. Traveling and learning about new ways of life is exciting and has that special appeal to young people. Let’s be honest, that is why studying abroad is so popular among student in the first place – not because that university overseas offers unique curriculum or unrivaled library resources. 

Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

You can apply to a college of your choice as a foreign student independently, or you can enroll in a college in your home country and then take part in various exchange/study abroad programs. It is important to understand the differences between the two.

If you take part in a study abroad program through your university or study abroad provider, you stay abroad is limited to a semester or two. Some credits are transferable, some are not, yet you will have your home country diploma in the end, even if it means doing an extra semester. Most of the paperwork and communications will be done by your college officials. This can be a more enjoyable and laid back option for you.

Whereas if you apply independently, called direct enrollment, you will have to take care of all the documents, permissions, visas, application papers, language courses, etc. You may have to employ an essay writing service to do part of the work for you if you are not yet proficient in the language of the target country. This is riskier, and a more laborious way to study abroad. However, if you succeed, it gives you more time, an in-depth experience of the country, and better opportunities for employment after you graduate.

Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

Both options sound equally appealing...and I'm sure you are dying to book a flight to a new place! I encourage you to weigh all the pros and cons before you make a final decision on how to study abroad.

Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

Pro: Lots of friends

College is the time you make friends. If those friends are from different cultural backgrounds and various countries, it will enrich your life enormously. As an exchange student, you will make it double as you will befriend people on two campuses. 

If you feel anxious about meeting new people, just remember – all friends were once strangers. Do not isolate yourself – go out there and make some friends, memories, and cool pics for you Instagram!

Con: Loneliness

On the flipside, you may feel lonely being far from home. With your family and childhood friends out of reach, you may succumb to homesickness. Sometimes the language barrier prevents you from socializing as actively as you would have been back at home. 

Still, you have social media and video calls to help keep in touch with loved ones back at home. 

Pro: Leaning a foreign language

As I mentioned earlier, language barrier can be a bummer, so you should make it your priority to learn the language of the target country as more as possible. Ideally, you should start at least a couple of years prior to your visit. This way, you won’t feel helpless and lost. You will be able to travel, book tickets, buy food, rent lodgings, etc. If your level is advanced, living abroad is very advantageous as you will be ready to soak in all the nuances of local speech. Some universities, such as in Germany, offer classes in English (and subsidize education for international students!). There are pros and cons to this, too!

Con: Grappling with curriculum

However, even if you have started learning the language beforehand, your level will still be much lower than one of the native speakers. Even if you feel confident enough in everyday situations, academia operates its own complicated jargon. So, it is not unusual for foreign students to find themselves in a situation where they cannot understand what the professor is saying, let along be able to write a coherent term paper. 

Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

Pro: More studying options

Now, back to those unique curriculums or unrivaled library resources. It is true that abroad you may find programs that are unheard of in your home country. Something as exotic as Art Therapy or Sustainability in Antarctica are legit research fields (in Spain and Canada respectively).

Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

Con: Costs

Financial troubles top the list of college student’s woes worldwide, but this is especially true for international students. Some countries officially have higher tuitions fees for foreigners. Even without this disparity, your flights home alone can add up to become quite a hefty sum.

Our thoughts? However you go, Just Do It!

It is always a good idea to do your research. Ask around about the costs of living in the target country, research scholarships and grants that will help you to cover the costs (at least partially), and think about freelancing, teaching English, and other sources of income during your stay.

Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad