5 Myths About Studying Abroad

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.

 

3. Studying abroad is just an excuse to party in other countries.

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.

 

5. It’s not relevant to my major.

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 katie@globalcitizenstravel.com

Spotlight Morocco: Global Citizen Andrew

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m from Carmel, Indiana, and headed over to Indiana University to study Finance and International Business. This trip to Morocco is my first with Global Citizens Travel, and it definitely won’t be my last.

How was your trip to Morocco?

Traveling to Morocco with Global Citizens Travel was one of the most unique experiences of my life. We had the opportunity to experience vibrant Marrakech, then travel around to lesser-known areas with local guides and truly get an authentic feel for the country. Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara was an unbelievably exciting and humbling experience–one I will not soon forget.

What did you come across that you did not expect?

One of the guides was not entirely proficient with English. We initially had some frustrating moments trying to communicate with him, but by the end of the first day we were best of buds, playing catch with rocks and trying to teach one another our native languages.

What was the coolest experience of the trip?

We got to sleep under a clear night sky with nothing but the vastness of the Sahara desert surrounding us. I’ve never done anything like that before.

What advice do you have for a student considering studying abroad?

There shouldn’t be any consideration involved. Do it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to explore the world with nothing holding you back.

Do you think travel will help you get a job?

Absolutely… in the sense that it is something you can talk about very passionately when you return. Recruiters/employers admire travel and study abroad.

What travel experiences are you looking forward to after your trip to Morocco?

I’m going to Sardinia in a couple weeks with my brother, doing a Euro trip shortly after with the family, then running with the bulls with some buddies!

Spotlight Morocco: Global Citizen Jeff

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m from Suffern, New York, but headed to Indiana University to major in Finance and Accounting. I studied abroad in London and began traveling Europe, and became more interested in traveling to unusual destinations. I’ve been to England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Austria, China, and now Morocco!

How was your trip to Morocco?

The Morocco trip was truly the most unique travel experience I’ve ever had. The long drives were worth it for the spectacular views—the Atlas Mountains are such an amazing mix of brown and green. And then we got to the Sahara! Hiking up the tallest dune in the area was a true accomplishment and it was amazing to stay up there, relax, enjoy the view, and then go back to camp in the pitch black.

What advice do you have for somebody traveling to Morocco?

Go into the Sahara and don’t just stay in Marrakech or Casablanca. Marrakech was great, but exploring the city and the market is not what I reference when I discuss my trip with friends. Get outside of the city and head into the desert!



How did you like your Global Citizens Travel guide?

Habib really seemed to know everyone in the area. It was obvious that he truly enjoyed showing us Morocco, which made my experience more fun, too.

Have you traveled alone/with friends/with a group before? How was your experience with Global Citizens Travel different?

I’ve been doing all my recent trips with one friend and previously traveled with large groups of friends. I prefer traveling with one friend because it’s easier to make decisions and be mobile. The Global Citizens Travel experience was great because I got the chance to meet new people.

What advice do you have for a student considering studying abroad?

100% study abroad. It is my most fond memory of college and shaped my view of the world. It is a unique opportunity to be immersed in a new culture for multiple months and have the opportunity to see new countries and cities.

Do you think travel will help you get a job, get into grad school, get a promotion?

Having quality experience and exposure to the world definitely helps in professional life. Travel gives you a wealth of things to talk about or find a common ground with someone. My study abroad experience is great to reference in interviews, and even before this year my travels (both domestic and international) came up frequently at work.

What travel plans are you making right now?

I love to travel and think that the Morocco trip will remain at the top of my list of all of my travels before going back to the USA in September. Since the Morocco trip, I’ve already traveled to Budapest and Vienna. Trips that I have booked for the coming months include: Italy (Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence), Brussels, Spain (Madrid, Seville), and Portugal (Lisbon, Algarve).