Studying abroad is often just one of a number of things that students can choose to do in their college career. But there’s one big issue: it costs a lot of money. Between airfare, program costs, visa costs, and more, studying abroad can be a costly endeavor that exceeds your normal tuition.
But is it worth it?
Should you Study Abroad?
If you’re thinking of studying abroad, carefully consider the following:
- Length of program
- Visa costs
- Airfare costs
- Geographic location
- Access to experts, historical knowledge, and hands-on experience
All of these things should be carefully considered before saying yes to a study abroad experience.
Here’s a more detailed guide to what to consider about studying abroad.
Personally, I think everyone should study abroad. Studying abroad completely changed my life and enhanced my skills. I studied abroad in Spain and was able to perfect my Spanish language skills. My proficiency in Spanish is what helped me land my first few career jobs, where I actively used my Spanish speaking abilities on a daily basis. If you are going to study abroad, make sure you are learning a language that can help your career!
In addition to the enhanced job skills, it also expanded my worldview. When you live in the same place your whole life, your scope of how other people live can be limited. Studying abroad gives you a unique experience that is different from traveling — you are not just passing through — but immersing yourself in a way of life and learning how others live. This can go a long way for your empathic skills as well as interpersonal skills. It is often these soft skills that employers are looking for. After all, you can teach many of the hard skills, but soft skills, like interpersonal communication, are hard to teach. But you can learn them by actively getting out of your comfort zone, learning how others live, and expanding your understanding of the world.
I think there are only things to gain from studying abroad, but I know it’s an expensive venture. I don’t recommend getting into further debt to study abroad. Even though I took out student loans to go to school, I saved up for a year to afford to study abroad and not get into more debt. It was tough, but it taught me patience and was totally worth it!
Paying For Studying Abroad
If you are thinking of studying abroad, look at the cost of your tuition and look at the price of studying abroad. Depending on the program, you could be paying the same amount in tuition! In other cases, it can be more, and I recommend applying for scholarships, as well as working extra jobs to save for it. It will be that much more rewarding.
You can also look into whether your 529 plan money allows you to study abroad.
Studying abroad can complement your educational experiences and offer hands-on experience in your field and expedite the language learning process. Although I studied Spanish for 5 years before going to Spain, I learned more in the few months I was there than I did in 5 years. It’s a completely different experience to be in another country where all your classes are in a foreign language and everyone around you speaks that language. It’s a humbling experience and can also make you more compassionate for those learning English!
In short, I believe studying abroad is a great opportunity for anyone. However, I do believe in doing it the smart way and not going into debt or just using it as an excuse to party (and believe me, there are people like that). Studying abroad can make you stand out as a job candidate and give you a wealth of experience and stories to tell, both professionally and personally.
Have you studied abroad?
Melanie Lockert is a freelance wordsmith, a passionate debt fighter, and frugal lovin’ minimalist who writes at DearDebt.com. She devotes 50% of her income to student loan debt and is often dreaming of her next adventure.