1. If I study abroad I’m going to miss out on so many cool things on campus.
You may miss out on some cool stuff back home, but chances are you’ll be doing even cooler stuff wherever you study abroad. Whether you’re off at a summer session in
Argentina or spending fall semester in Paris, it’s true: you won’t be around for college basketball play-offs, the year’s best frat party or Sunday hangover brunches with your best friends. But how many people can say they learned to surf on the coast of Portugal, or took a hot air balloon ride in Turkey, or slept under the stars in the Sahara?
2. If I study abroad, I won’t graduate on time.
Research shows that you are actually more likely to graduate within four years if you choose to study abroad than if you spent all your semesters at your home university. There are study abroad programs to match your major (or minor) that will allow you to fulfill requirements while abroad. You can also spend your elective credits on cool, destination-specific courses you won’t find at your home university. Consider studying abroad in the summer for extra credits that won’t interfere with regular semester course requirements. And acknowledge that graduating a semester after your friends may very well be worth it for the experience of living and studying in another country.
Partying is often one fun aspect of studying abroad, but there’s sooo much more to it than that. You’ll become friends with people from around the world who you never in a million years would meet at home. You’ll learn about another culture from the inside–what people eat for breakfast, how to navigate a foreign public transportation system, how to say “where is the bathroom?” in at least half a dozen new languages. You’ll be taking classes with professors you wouldn’t have access to at home, often in subjects relevant to the place you’re in. Yes, you’ll have some wild nights out partying with your new friends, foreigners, and locals, but that’s just one aspect of the life-changing experience of living and studying in another country. Plus you get to travel to other countries while abroad–countries you may never otherwise visit (check out Global Citizens Travel’s trips to unusual destinations like Malta, Turkey, and Morocco).
4. I don’t know the language so I can’t study there.
Not true at all! In fact, one of the most fun aspects of studying abroad is learning the language, even just random phrases–”how are you?” “what’s your name?” “where is the bathroom?” (yes, finding the bathroom is important when you don’t speak the language!). Plus, you can take language classes when you’re abroad, and you’ll probably pick it up faster than if you were just taking a few classes a week at home. You’ll be surrounded by native speakers, practicing with everybody–from the grocery store cashier to your waiter to that hot Spanish guy checking you out from across the bar.
If your school’s not offering a program for your major, try setting one up yourself! No biology classes at your school’s partner universities? Ask if you can study at a different university. Consider taking your elective courses while abroad, or fulfilling your minor requirements. Studying abroad may even inspire you to change majors and consider alternative career paths. Plus, keep in mind that regardless of what your major is, studying abroad is relevant to your life. You’ll learn how to make friends from other cultures, how to adapt to a completely new environment, and how to be flexible when you miss your bus or are struggling to communicate with somebody who doesn’t speak English.
Katie Simon is the director of community engagement for Global Citizens Travel. She’s been to 63 countries on 5 continents and looks forward to traveling to the 100+ more! If you have questions for Katie, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org