One of the most valuable things you can do in your college career is study abroad in a foreign country.
=When you’re in your twenties and attending university, you’re as close to carefree as you’ll probably ever be for the duration of your adult life. Plus, in this day and age, it’s essentially a requirement for most degrees.
The Financial Scope
Realistically, you’ll most likely never get a loan with as low of an interest rate as most student loans are-anywhere from 0%-7%, depending on the type of loans you’re getting. I don’t want to focus this entire post on the finances of study abroad, so I’ll leave you with a bit of food for thought-at tons of universities and colleges across the county, study abroad semesters/years are actually cheaper than at home universities. For example, my public university costs about $21,000 per year for in-state tuition and room and board (~$10,500 per semester). In comparison, my semester in Moscow was about $6000 for my flights, visa, tuition, and housing…saving me $4,500! *shoulder shrug*
You Get to Travel
This is a given, but you get to see a part of the world that you may not have gotten the chance to visit otherwise. You also get the wonderful experience of not just being a tourist that is around for a few days. You have the ability to fully immerse yourself in another culture- something special in and of itself.
You Make Friends from All Over the World
Similar to traveling and staying in hostels, you’re usually in some sort of university-arranged housing or staying with other students, meaning that you could be living with strangers from anywhere, or at the least sitting next to them in class. If you’re able to do a homestay, it can be even better!You come out of the program with an adopted family. Personally, I still keep in touch with almost everyone I met on my first exchange trip to Russia when I was 15, and was able to see and catch up with some of them when I studied abroad for a longer period of time.
Location, Location, LOCATION
If you choose to study somewhere in Europe, you’re so much closer to so many other countries and can travel pretty freely on a US or Canadian passport. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take advantage of that due to the strict and bureaucratic visa laws in Russia-we didn’t receive our multi-entry visas until a month before we were slated to go home. It was definitely not the best case scenario, but for others in most Western European countries this isn’t and issue at all.
You’ll Probably Learn A Lot About Yourself
Sure, a lot of people are on their own for the first time in their lives when they head to university, but being on your own in a foreign country is a whole other ball game. In a lot of places, you may not speak the language which forces you to either work hard and learn the language or find an alternate form of communication. You learn to open your mind a little bit and see things from different perspectives and it gives you insights on different ways of living. You may also have the opportunity to watch your country from afar during critical times in history and see it in a different light, without typical biases that may influence you back home. During the controversial 2016 presidential election, I was living in “enemy” territory. It was incredible getting to witness such an event from across the pond and learn about the election from the point of view of the Russians while reading their newspapers. You really begin to actually use your brain and think about things.
My time studying abroad changed me and taught me so much about myself and about the world around me-something that 2 years later and following my college graduation has been one of, if not the most important things that I learned/ was able to learn from. Not only on the individual level, living/studying abroad is a great resume builder for those who are looking to join the workforce immediately following their graduation.