As discussed in another recent post, we know that the decision to study abroad is never made without great consideration. Depending on your level in school, future personal and career goals, and the purpose for wanting to spend a semester (or longer!) away, there are endless options for study abroad available.
While there are many reasons to study abroad, there are equal amounts to not study abroad, and these need to be taken into account. Study abroad is an amazing opportunity but similar to college is not necessary or made for everyone.
Let’s evaluate three of the main reasons you should NOT Study Abroad:
1. You are Interested in a ‘Break’ from School
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while or found me on youtube, you will know that I often say planning a semester abroad for students can be shocking when they realize that the words ‘study’ and ‘abroad’ co-exist together and not separately.
The opportunity to study abroad is NOT a ‘vacation’. While you will have plenty of opportunities to see new sights, travel, make friends, taste local foods, and live it up at parties, study abroad is an educational experience that requires commitment, tenacity, and focus. In a previous blog, I explained this in great detail. Click here to read it.
For students looking for a ‘break’ from school, you should reconsider your plans except for those who can find a program that fits those specific needs and offers flexibility where learning is more hands-on and less academically focused.
I would recommend taking a gap year or a leave of absence from school if you need time off instead of investing thousands of dollars (or the foreign equivalent) into a study abroad program if you genuinely need time away from campus.
2. You Feel Uncomfortable with Assimilation
A key component to enjoying your study abroad program and soaking up the culture of your new host city, assimilation can make or break your study abroad experience.
I always like to highlight to students that I advise that this is not about handing over your identity and conforming to ‘norms’ in your new country.
Quite the opposite.
It does not matter where I have traveled or lived, I am always proud to be an American and never fear expressing this pride. HOWEVER, I understand the value of respecting the local culture and always strive to learn and fit in when possible, working as a good steward.
The phrase ‘When in Rome’, was essentially coined for this very reason. There is no attribution or ‘winning’ in disrespecting or rejecting the culture of your host country. If anything, it will only bring you more hostility, misery, and less progress in your journey.
If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of trying to assimilate into your host country’s culture and overall ethos, studying abroad may not end up being the best experience for you.
3. You are Caving to Pressure from Family & Friends
This is a MAJOR one for me. As an only child, I’ve always been able to chart my own path without recourse from others, but have grown up with kids who were in the opposite situation. From the sports they played to the colleges they chose, and beyond, their parents crafted their way, based on what THEY wanted, not what the child wanted.
Please do not let this be you.
While I would never promote disrespecting family members or close friends, there comes a time when you have to carve out your own purpose.
Do you really WANT TO study abroad? When you hear this question, what are some of the reasons that come up? If it is all based on what someone else has told you and how going will make others happy, then consider it a bad choice.
Similar to other big life decisions, you are always encouraged to ask for feedback, but ultimately, you get one life and you can only live it for yourself. Never feel afraid to advocate for yourself and to decide what will be best.
If study abroad is the goal of someone else for you, but not your own, skip it!
What stresses you out the most as you have been working on planning your study abroad semester away? LEAVE A COMMENT!
Until next time,