Studying abroad is an amazing experience that’ll leave a positive mark on your life.
In fact, it was one of the best times of my life.
My study abroad experiences filled with fun, laughter, and excitement.
It was also one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.
With most things, there are advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
If you have the opportunity to study abroad, I would say hands down do it! You won’t regret it. However, you need to be prepared to face the challenges, financial and psychological hiccups that may arise.
Don’t be put off from the disadvantages, the pros far outweigh the cons. But, it is important to understand the not so pretty side of studying abroad.
Why Study Abroad?
Ask yourself, have you ever heard of someone say to not study abroad?
Actually, you probably have.
From the negative nancies, but we don’t listen to them.
Everyone that I have spoken to that has studied abroad recommends to do it as soon as possible, and that’s exactly what I did.
Expert says studying abroad is one of the best decisions one can ever make in their lifetime! Especially while you are a student, you have the freedom to travel and have extensive flexibility.
It can teach you important life lessons and you will get valuable experiences that not many other people get.
Top 10 Destinations To Study Abroad
The first two things to look for is:
What university you want to study at.
And where in the world should I study?
Here are the top 10 destinations to study abroad:
My suggestions when picking a country to study it is to pick a country that would be the polar opposite to your own.
I am from Australia and I thought… why not live in a country that’s unbelievably cold?
That is exactly what I did and I was in for a freezing treat!
My advice is to not pick a country that you think you’d be too comfortable living in. You want to really get out of your comfort zone, explore and immerse yourself in a completely different culture and environment.
How To Study Abroad
Many universities offer exchanges, so one person from your chosen university comes to your university. Others may include a quick 4-6 week program to earn credit towards your degree or even it is a requirement that you do an international study as part of your degree.
Talk to your university. They will have in-depth knowledge as to what universities you can apply to, give information about different countries and provide testimonies from previous students.
My university did a series of seminars hosted by previous exchange students that really helped me feel more comfortable about the whole process. Your university would provide a similar process as well.
Different education levels you can study abroad:
- Short Courses
- + many more
Advantages of Studying Abroad
When you think of advantages, you think amazing, fun and awesome things that you will like. These are the advantages of studying abroad.
The credit goes towards your degree
The best thing about going on exchange is that you can study a full-time load at your chosen country and it will transfer back to your degree at home.
It is best to save up and use electives or subjects that are easily transferable so you don’t have to stress about finding subjects that line up with your home university and your exchange university.
It’s best to pick the easiest subjects, so try and knock out a few hard subjects at your home university and take more basic classes at your host university.
Trust me, even though I used all of my elective subjects, I still had a hard time finding the perfect courses that would suit my timetable and I wouldn’t get bored of.
You will have a greater chance of a basic (core) subject being available over an advanced class.
This is due to factors such as; priority over home university students than exchange students, the spaces of classes, prerequisites and course offerings.
If you are lucky like me, the marks I got at my host university didn’t count towards my degree. So I was lucky in the regards that I only just had to pass and not stress out while I was on exchange.
Make lifelong friends!
I made so many great friends that I still chat to this day.
Making friends on an exchange is quite easy as your exchange university will make the effort to create events for international students and check in to see how you are doing.
At the same time, you’ll be forced to get out of your comfort zone and make friends.
Being an introvert this was hard for me but I managed to force myself to get out there, and mingle with people.
These friends will help you through the tough times during your study abroad exchange. Especially fellow exchange students – they know exactly what you are going through.
After making friends with many people, we would all go on trips together.
It is great fun to travel with people in the same mindset as you.
Having a travel buddy or several travel buddies while on exchange will set you up to have an awesome time!
Experiencing a new culture and scenery
Moving to another country was overwhelming, but experiencing a new culture was interesting and rewarding.
I learned so many new things, changed my perspective and made me have a much more positive outlook on life.
Studying abroad can and will change your mindset – this is a good thing.
Better Job Opportunities
If you study abroad, I can assure you this will open up your job prospects.
I have recently gone through the graduate job process of going to many interviews and every single interviewer was impressed that I traveled and studied abroad.
This gave me a great competitive edge.
You can use this experience and use it to your advantage. Tell interviewers that you are flexible, that you have the ability to handle quick changes and that you can adapt with ease.
These prospects and experiences will set you up for success.
You Can Learn A New Language
If you are traveling to a country where they don’t speak your native language, this is the perfect opportunity to learn their language.
Learning a new language is known to be hard, but you can make it a fun and enjoyable experience. I recommend following the habits of successful language learners.
There are also many language learning apps you can use on the go. You don’t necessarily need a tutor to understand the basics.
If you’re more of a desktop user, you can also check out websites to learn a language.
You can also a learn language abroad – your host university may have a course for you to learn the language.
Better Learning Opportunities
Learning in a different country with a different education system sets you apart when it comes to learning opportunities.
You will be able to learn from a new perspective than your home university.
This can be a great learning experience.
You will realize that not everything is taught in unison around the world.
Disadvantages of Studying Abroad
You have got to know the bad to know the good. Studying abroad is one of the most awesome experiences but, in saying that, there are a few downers that can take a toll.
Just remember that moving out of your home country, knowing absolutely no one, having no idea how to get to your class or where you are can really suck at times.
These challenges do set you up for success. You will learn many life lessons and will be able to take the bad and turn it into something amazing!
The Rollercoaster of Culture Shock
I came from Australia to Canada and even though the countries have similarities, I still experienced culture shock.
Culture shock is characterized by the impact you feel when you go to another country. It’s the surprise of a new environment, people, culture and weather.
If you’re going on student exchange, it is safe to say that you will experience culture shock.
Do not worry! Everyone that studies abroad experiences culture shock one way or another. It is totally normal.
Culture shock is such a broad topic and can be explained in much more detail!
I won’t lie when I say it was a struggle but it makes you gain a wider perspective, become more open to new things and you become adaptable. Culture shock is actually good for you.
It may not seem like it at the moment, but when you look back and reflect on your experiences you will see what I mean.
Here is a typical cultural shock timeline:
- Excitement & Initial Euphoria: This happens when you arrive, you become super excited about everything new you see and do!
- Irritability: This is when the novelty wears off. You start to realize that everything is very foreign to you and you may find simple, everyday things hard to do.
- Gradual Adjustment: You start to ease into everyday life and you find it easier to cope.
- Adaptation: You finally feel at ease. You feel as though you are now part of the culture.
Reverse Culture Shock
Yes! It’s a real thing.
Once you start to feel comfortable studying abroad and living in a foreign country, it’s time for you to go back home.
You will feel the excitement of coming back home for the first few days.
You will meet up with friends and family that you haven’t seen in a long time and it’ll be awesome!
However, once you’ve done all of that… you will feel out of place.
The feeling of experiencing something new everyday studying abroad is no longer there. Before you know it, you’ll be in your exact same routine, in the same place and people.
A lot of people don’t take this in consideration when they take up going overseas to study.
The Jetlag is Real
My jetlag was horrible.
I traveled from Australia to Canada, and I must say it took me a good week to finally feel myself again.
Especially when you move to another country and you know no one it can be very overwhelming.
You may feel very overtired and not feel like doing anything. But you will need to push yourself and stay awake!
Drastic Change In Weather
Coming from a scorching hot 40-degree summer the day before leaving, to arriving in a freezing -30 the next day….. was not fun.
It took me a very long time to adjust to the Canadian winter.
I didn’t see the sun for 2 months! I didn’t even know that it was possible.
It was a shocker for someone who sees the sun every day back home.
The was probably the biggest disadvantage for me. It was an experience I wouldn’t take back though, I appreciate the sun like I never had before.
However, if you are going to a sunny place this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
At points during an exchange, you will miss home.
Whether it be your family, the food or the weather.
I experienced homesickness many times, but keeping yourself busy and hanging out with friends or calling home is a quick fix.
Running Low On Money
It is important to save, save and save more! Work as much as you can the months leading up to studying abroad.
You need to take more money than you are budgeting for.
This is what I did not do, and I regret not saving a little bit more extra.
it is also important to set out a strict budget and set aside a little bit of “play money” so you can go out and enjoy yourself.
If you don’t have much money, consider going to a country where it is cheaper or try to get a grant or scholarship.
What To Prepare When Studying Abroad
- Learn as much as you can about the culture, weather, and food
- Research holiday places and touristy places to visit
- Learn the language of the country
- Be prepared to do things on your own, you won’t have a hand helping you all the time
- Learn how to cook! Cooking is much cheaper than eating out
- Read my blog post: Things I wish I knew Before Studying Abroad. It will let you know what to avoid and what not to do!
- Remember that the benefits of studying abroad is great than the disadvantages studying abroad.
Let me know if you are studying abroad or thinking of studying abroad. And let me know what country you are going to.
If you liked this post of studying abroad pros and cons, share it around!