study abroad

Why You Should Study Abroad

Studying Abroad

Believe it or not, summer is already almost over and it’s time for college students, freshman and upperclassmen alike, to get ready for fall semester. Though college life is exciting for most of us, it’s easy to fall into a routine. Luckily, most schools in the United States offer study abroad programs, where for certain amount of time, you could take classes in a different country! This summer, take the time to do some research on programs that your school offers before deadlines. As someone who just returned from studying abroad in New Zealand, I firmly believe that anyone, yes anyone, could have a life-changing experience studying abroad! Here’s why:

   Studying Abroad 

1. Excitement of Friendship

Studying abroad forces you to make new friends, which is surprisingly not as unpleasant as it sounds. In college, people tend to form a friend group and stick with those people for the whole four years. Although we make new friends here and there, we rarely make new best-friends. Unless you happen to be going on the trip with your besties, which I recommend avoiding, you’re thrown into a foreign country with other people who are just as scared and lost as you are. The nuance of bonding is amazing when you get to meet people who you might not have talked to before departure. You get to share stories, have deep conversations, and discover some cool things about people through travelling and exploring.

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2. Cultural Awareness

This seems like a given, but it really is something you need to experience to believe. New Zealand seems close enough to the States custom wise, but there really is a lot of differences to consider. For instance: the history. When taking history classes in the United States, I learned about United States history and European history. Now, while studying here, I’m learning Pacific history that I truly knew nothing about. People tend to view culture on a broad and global scale, sometimes disregarding the small underlying things that keep the world diverse and interesting. By studying abroad, you really get to experience it in ways that you can’t by reading a book.

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 3. Learning Through Loving

The place that you choose to study abroad reflects who you are. Some people base it off landscape and architecture, or because of ancestral roots, or maybe because the area has a lot of history that they’d love to learn more about. You choose where you want to be, and if you’re excited to be there and to explore, then you will fall in love. You will meet people who have insane stories, see things that you only thought would be in books, make memories that feel novel worthy, and form friendships and bonds with amazing people. Through traveling and learning in a foreign country, enthusiasm fuels your experience, and the combination produces something extraordinary.

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4. Breaking from Habit

Routine has its pros, but in my opinion, young adults should stay as far away from routine as possible. The process of college is normally pretty hectic, but it’s still four years of classes in the same school. Studying abroad gives you a healthy break from that area. It also allows you to take classes in some great parts of the world without having to transfer or take a gap year. It removes you from the homogeneity of normal college routine and allows you to restructure how you go about your days. This keeps life exciting through a sense of spontaneity.

Obviously everybody is different but when considering the pros and cons of studying abroad, also remember the magnanimity of the opportunity presented. Traveling is special, but spending time in a foreign country where you get to go to school and have time to explore is really a once in a lifetime chance. If you’ve studied abroad, share your experiences in the comments below! 

Top 5 Reasons to Study Abroad

During your time in college, you may have an opportunity to study at an institution in another country. Many college students partake in this opportunity, as it can be a life changing experience. Here are some of the top reasons to study abroad:

1. New Way of Learning

You may have a 4.0 GPA at your home institution, but wouldn’t it be great to step outside of your old familiar classrooms and libraries? Studying abroad can offer a fantastic opportunity to continue your studies in an environment that is completely new and fresh.

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2. Travel

Once you graduate college and have a full time job, you may not have the opportunity to spend a few weeks or months in a foreign country. Take this time to travel while you have minimal responsibilities elsewhere.

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3. Interact with other cultures

Everyone does not have the opportunity to interact and make friends with people from other countries. Studying abroad could give you the chance to see what college life is like in a country that is unfamiliar to you.

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4. Expand your world perspective

It’s easy to get comfortable in your own mindset and cultures, but traveling internationally can give you a fresh perspective on the world, your life, and how it all fits together. The world will seem much smaller when you realize that we all have much more in common than we think!

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5. Learn a new language

Studying abroad can be especially beneficial to those studying linguistics or who wish to learn another language fluently. No amount of textbook studying can compare to one-on-one conversation with a native speaker of the language you are studying.

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Have you studied abroad? What were your reasons? Let us know in the comments below!

The “What I Wish I Knew about Education Abroad” List for Students

study-abroadAs the semester comes to an end, the majority of us are focused on surviving finals week and getting home for the holidays. However, many students, myself included, are preparing to spend time studying abroad for a few weeks, or even a semester. Although I am now very excited for my trip, my education abroad journey has not been all smooth sailing. There are a million and one things I wish I had known when I began planning my trip abroad. Here are just a few tips that I hope will make the process a little easier for anyone who is considering education abroad.

START EARLY: I repeat, do NOT wait until the last minute to start planning your trip (like I did). Although it’s not impossible to plan an education abroad trip last minute, it is definitely more difficult. If you are at all interested in studying abroad, go meet with an education abroad ASAP. Different programs have different requirements. It is absolutely never too early to get started!

 
Decide where you want to go: One of the most important education abroad decisions you will make is where to go. One of my majors is Spanish, so I chose to study in Seville, Spain in order to complete the requirements for my major. Many colleges offer many areas of stud. But, you need to think about which cultures and experiences will benefit you the most academically. No matter where you go, you will have a great time and make awesome memories, so make sure it’s going to pay off towards your degree.

Find a friend: Chances are, you know someone who has studied abroad in the past. Use them as a resource! Don’t annoy them of course, but ask them to get coffee or lunch with you someday so that you can ask them questions and advice.

Don’t let money stop you: If you’re anything like me, you may be hesitant about education abroad because you think you can’t afford it. Surprisingly, my semester abroad is going to cost me less than a semester at my home university. Now, this may not be the case for everyone. But I promise, education abroad fees include A LOT. And, you can usually apply any scholarships, loans or grants that you receive at your current school to education abroad fees. There are also TONS of scholarships available to students who want to go abroad.

Although a good GPA, campus involvement and leadership experience are all important aspects of an impressive resume, education abroad gives students an advantage over the rest. Employers and graduate programs love seeing that a student has studied abroad. Not to mention, I have never spoken to a student who regretted their education abroad experience. Have any questions or suggestions of your own about education abroad? Let us know in the comments section below.

Things to Work on This Summer (Besides Your Tan)

As the semester is ending, the only thing on my mind is summer. While I wish I could spend my summer lounging around, the sad reality is that I can’t. This summer I’ll be working part-time, working two on-site internships, as well as blogging for eCampus.com. Maybe you don’t want to spend your summer like me, but there’s something everyone can do to be productive during break. The following are my recommendations for ways to have a productive summer break.

enjoying the sun

1. Work. Working allows me to save up money so I don’t have to work as much during the school year. If working part-time is the only thing you’ll be doing this summer, then you’ll still have plenty of time to relax and hang out with your friends.

2. Intern. Internships are the best way to get experience related to your field. Unfortunately, many internships don’t pay, so doing one in the summer can allow you to work without trying to juggle school and work too. But the important thing about internships isn’t the money; it’s getting real experience. Internships are also a great way to gain pieces for your professional portfolio. If you don’t know where to start looking, check out internships.com (that’s how I got this position)!

3. Volunteer. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something good. Countless organizations take volunteers, especially during the summer. Volunteering is a way to do something you’re passionate about outside of school.

4. Study abroad. If there were one thing I wish I could do, it would be to study abroad. While it may be pricey, there are options to take care of the finances. There are numerous national study abroad programs, and your school may have its own study abroad program. Learning or working in a foreign country is a great resume enhancer.

5. Personal improvement. If the above don’t seem like your thing, you at least owe yourself some “me” time after a long semester. Start a new fitness routine, read a book, or take up a new hobby. There are endless ways to spend your summer. You don’t want to waste three months with nothing to show.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing for a few days after finals and enjoying the sun, but it is important to have a plan. The longer you sit around, the harder it will be to get back on schedule.  What are your plans for making this summer the best it can be?

Study Abroad: Preparing to Come Home

Your study abroad adventure is coming to a close. You have to say goodbye to your host family and your new home and prepare to come back to the old one. It may sound simple enough. Enjoy your last few nights, soak in your memories and make promises to return. Get excited to sleep in your own bed, reunite with your puppy and make plans with your friends at the homefront. But a lot will have changed when you return—including you.

After being in a foreign country for so long, you may experience reverse culture shock. Everything at home may start to feel weird to you from how you flush the toilet (in Italy, you either push a button or use a foot pedal), to the height of the ceilings (so much lower in America), to your relationship with friends. You and your friends had completely different experiences while you were away and it may take some time to relate to one another—if that relationship hasn’t changed completely by your own personal growths. Not to freak you out. You won’t necessarily not have your friends anymore or hate everything about home. It will just take time to adjust and get used to being back in America. With time, you’ll fall back into your old habits and things will be back to normal. But before heading home, you should start mentally preparing for the differences in culture, so it will be less of a shock to your system.

A good way to ready yourself for home is to skype with your friends and family the week of your planned departure. You can have your siblings walk you through your halls and your room so it feels more familiar again. You can ask your parents to prepare meals similar to what you had been eating while you were away so you can ease your stomach back into its usual eating habits. Make plans with your friends to hang out in your usual places to catch up. But also, give yourself time to relax and adjust. The second you get back doesn’t have to be go! Go! Go! Your sleep schedule will need time to right itself too, so take it easy and mentally get back into the American mindset.

Besides getting ready to return home, you need to prepare yourself to say goodbye. Visit your favorite spots and soak in the smells, the atmosphere, the feeling you get when you go there. Take in all the views and the architecture and the people (besides all the tourists) wandering around the streets nearby. Spend more time lingering over your food and paying attention to all the different flavors. And spend more time with your host family, even if it is sitting around a bit longer after dinner or watching one more show on TV with them at night. Even better, plan to keep in touch with them after you return home. Give them your address and email—even your phone number if you’re willing to overlook the expense of those calls. Remember as much as you can so you can have a piece of your experience with you at all times, wherever you are.

At the end of the day, coming home is bittersweet. You have the chance for a wonderful reunion and a break from school, but you have to say goodbye to all your new loves. But that’s ok. Your memories and craving to go back to that country will lead you back eventually. In the meantime, home, sweet home.