The Student Pocket Guide | Study Abroad
Written by Sage Fitzpatrick

Thinking about doing a semester abroad for university? Not sure whether it will be worth your time and money? Well, we are here to help. We’ve compiled a short list of pros and cons to doing a study exchange or a study abroad placement, which we are sure will help you on your way to making your decision..

The Pros:

Experience a new culture: Whether you are only abroad for one semester or have decided to go for a year, you will be immersing yourself in a new culture. Even if you are visiting an English speaking country, some things will still be completely different to home. You’ll be living, partying, studying and working in another country, learning about the culture and the people who live it everyday. They’ll be new cuisines to try, new people to meet and new music and films to get to grips with.

Can be a cheap way to travel: Many students say they would love the opportunity to travel and visit a number of far away countries, and this is the perfect way to do it. You’ll be living in a country for a period that will enable you to explore the sights on offer. Some destinations offered in exchange programs are countries that students could only dream of visiting; Australia, New Zealand, China… With a study exchange, you can avoid hotel charges and other travel expenses that tourists have to pay out for. Friends you make will be able to point out secret and almost unknown places to eat and shop that are not always accessible to tourists.

Looks great on your CV: Studying abroad will show that you are willing to try new experiences and that you are a confident, independant and outgoing individual. These are personal traits that potential employers look for in a new candidate. Your studying abroad experience could help you stand out from the crowd and put you above the rest of the applicants when the looking for work post studies.

The Cons:

It can be expensive: Depending on where you wish to take part in your exchange, the price can mount up. There are visa costs, health insurance to organise; plane tickets with extra luggage allowances and flat deposits, the list can go on. And when you arrive there’s entry to the tourist hot spots, meals out, train and bust tickets around the country. So before you begin to apply for an exchange, you need to make sure you have the necessary funds to support yourself whilst you are away, because being strapped for cash in another country may really ruin your experience.

Homesickness: This is one of the main reasons many people avoid travelling. Going to another country and being separated from all your friends and family is tough. When you’ve had a bad day at university you can’t just pick up the phone to call your mum and have a good moan and cry. There are time differences and the extortionate costs of international calls and texts make it hard to keep in touch whilst you are away. But people will still be there when you come home. Nothing will change. You’ll have awesome stories to share at dinner parties and your family will be super proud of you and what you have achieved.

Culture Shock: If you are choosing to study abroad in a country that is completely different to your home country then you may experience culture shock. Buying food could become a difficult task; nothing seems edible and there is nothing familiar on the shelves for you to eat. Public transport may be hard to use and getting around may also become a feat.

And that’s it. Hopefully this list has helped you sort out your thoughts towards completing a study exchange. If not talk to as many people about it as possible. Your friends, family and other students who have studied abroad; they will be able to offer you some inside advice. Whatever you choose, good luck and have a great time.

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