About Study Abroad
» What It Is
Study abroad is an incredible opportunity to do what you’ve never done before. You can spend months living in a country you’ve only seen on maps. You can immerse yourself in a culture that is utterly different from your own. You can escape the world view you’ve grown up with, break out of a comfort zone, and redefine yourself in countless ways. You can learn at universities renowned throughout the world and challenge your pace in the scheme of the universe. You can make incredible friends who are incredibly different from you in every way. You can see your ego and national identity transformed in ways you never would have imagined.
Study abroad is scary. Starting a new life in an unfamiliar country can be intimidating, and while we hope to prepare you as best we can, we know that we can’t answer every question. Acknowledge the risks and the unknowns, take a deep breath, and dive into the experience.
Study abroad is amazing. For many students, the experience is so positive in so many ways that they can’t even begin to put it into words. Similarly, many put it into too many words and never stop talking about how cool their trip was. If you let it, study abroad has the potential to work wonders for you.
Most importantly, study abroad is what you make of it. Be smart, be flexible, be educated, and be prepared. Go in with the right attitude and an open mind and you won’t regret it!
» What It Isn’t
Study abroad is not easy. It’s not just a trip that you take to another country—it’s an all-encompassing experience during which you try to make that new country your home. Study abroad is also not all about partying because you’re suddenly legal and your country is known for its world-class wine/beer/absinthe. Nor is it all about hooking up with as many cute locals as you possibly can because your newly found accent suddenly makes you an international love-machine. Study abroad shakes you out of your comfortable patterns and makes you ask hard questions and see yourself and your world in a new context. Don’t expect any of that to be easy.
Study abroad will not be everything you think it is. There’s no real formula for what happens during your months away from home, and the only safe thing to assume is that many of your predictions will turn out to be wrong. You’ll be challenged in ways you could not have expected and you’ll rise to those challenges in ways you didn’t know you could. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Study abroad is not a vacation. While there will be countless opportunities for fun and craziness and relaxation of many different flavors, don’t let yourself ignore the “study” component of study abroad. While much of your learning will happen outside the classroom, you should try not to ignore your classes at the foreign university. You don’t want to flunk your courses and lose academic credit back at your home institution. Nor do you want to miss out on interacting with local professors and students—those who can often make or break the quality of your study abroad experience.
Adapted from Getting the Most from Study Abroad: Students Helping Students