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!