Considering studying abroad and wondering if it’s the right fit for you? Yeah, welcome to the club. I too had to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad before I made any major life decisions.
And while I eventually decided to study abroad in Germany and South Korea was right for me, it’s wise to carefully consider all the pros and cons of studying abroad before applying to a program and completely uprooting your life.
I mean, hi, this is a travel blog. So, I obviously support studying abroad and traveling every chance you get.
However, living and studying in a foreign country can be difficult. In fact, it isn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and daisies.
Therefore, let’s swam dive into this 30+ year travel expert’s guide to the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into and fully understand the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to studying abroad.
Yup, no more rose-colored glasses in this article. At least not when it comes to honestly outlining all the pros and cons of studying abroad.
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Advantages of Studying Abroad
1. It’s a Conversation Starter
One of the many advantages of studying abroad is that it gives you something interesting to talk about.
After all, what’s not exciting about moving to a foreign country. fully immersing yourself in a new culture and studying there?
Besides, you’re bound to make some mistakes and create some funny anecdotes that you can then share at a party or with friends.
In fact, you could be one of those super cool people at a party who is telling all these fascinating stories – so much so that everyone is basically hanging on your every word.
So, when considering the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad, always remember that the experience will deffo leave you with some stories to tell.
2. It’ll Make You a More Exciting Human
You know that cheesy AF brochure that they give you to try and sell you on the whole studying abroad thing?
And you know how it typically features a bunch of saccharine sweet, super smiley college kids who are eternally grateful that they took the time to study abroad and “broaden their horizons”?
Well, that saying is beyond cliche but it really is true. Because when you study abroad, you’ll have stories to tell and will, as a result, be a less dull and more generally interesting human.
You know, one who has seen parts of the world and who has interests that extend beyond Netflix.
Plus, when you immerse yourself in vibrant cultures, you’ll get a new perspective on how other people approach life.
Who knows, the experience might even force you to question how you look at life and entirely rethink the life you’re living.
Because one of the many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad is that it opens you up to new possibilities and forever changes the way you look at the world around you and yourself in it.
3. It Can Make You Grateful
Sometimes we get so bored with our everyday lives at home that we forget how truly lucky we are.
We just go through the motions and forget about all the amazing things that we have right in our own backyard.
But, one of the pros and cons of studying abroad is that it can serve as a reminder of just how awesome our home country really is.
I mean, I know when I studied abroad in South Korea, I missed the wide array of international cuisine available to me and the fact that everyone I met spoke fluent English.
Also, not gonna lie, I was more than a little excited to flush toilet paper down the toilet when I got home.
So, the moral of the story? Studying abroad can make you super grateful since it reminds you of all those things that you take for granted and that you really do love about home.
4. It Can Help You Learn a New Language
Full-on cultural immersion and studying abroad are the best ways to get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to learn a new language.
Because guess what? Linguistics is all about practice, practice, practice. And there is no better place to practice a language than in a country where it is spoken fluently – especially if no one really speaks English.
Besides, where else are you going to learn local slang and understand how to pronounce words like a real local?
So, if learning a new language has long been on your bucket list then studying abroad might be a great fit for you as you learn about the pros and cons of studying abroad.
5. It Can Make You More Employable
We live in a super globalized world where most companies and places of work are highly multi-cultural.
Therefore, if you can step out of your comfort zone, study abroad, and learn how to get along with people who think differently than you, then future bosses will see that as an asset.
After all, it shows just how flexible you are and that you can easily communicate with people and develop working relationships with them, regardless of where they’re from.
In fact, one of the many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad is that it shows potential employers that you can get along well with others, that you are a free thinker who is willing to try new things, and that you have potential language skills that might be useful.
6. It Forces You Out of Your Comfort Zone
Look, I get it. Change is scary. And leaving home to study alone in a foreign country is super scary.
In fact, I think the prospect of studying abroad makes most people a little anxious since you have no idea who you will meet, what it be like, and what types of cultural differences you’ll encounter.
But, being scared and doing something anyway builds a lot of confidence and prepares you for dealing with similar situations in the future.
Plus, it forces you to let go of support from friends and family as you rely on yourself to problem solve in a foreign country and become more independent as you tackle confront culural differences.
And then, once you finish your experience, you’ll realize that you’re infintitely more capable than you intially thought.
Yup, just another one of the pros and cons of studying abroad.
7. You’ll Get a First Rate Education
One of the many and advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad is that you open yourself up to exciting new possibilities – like working with leading professionals in your chosen field of study.
So, apply for a top notch education from of the best schools around the world and avoid settling because a program is conveninely located close to home.
8. You’ll Have Friends All Across the World
Another one of the pros and cons of studying abroad is that you’ll make amazing friends from all across the globe.
Therefore, regardless of where you are, you’ll know someone that you can connect with or that will help you.
Or, if a work opportunity pops up outside your country of origin, your new friends may reach out to you about the positon or reccomend you for it as a result of your time abroad.
9. You’ll Become a More Independent Person
When you study abroad you leave your friends, family, and many of the other comforts of home behind.
As a result, you have very little to rely on but yourself and your own ability to problem solve in the face of adveristy.
And while being alone can be scary, you’ll quickly gain confidence in yourself as you handle difficult situations and learn how to live in a foreign country by yourself.
10. You Can Use Advanced Learning Techniques
One of the many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad is that you can go to best schools and use the latest technology to excel in any field you like.
So, don’t let a simple thing like geography deter you as you venture beyond your home country to use cutting edge technological advances to further your education.
Because when you’re introduced to innovative modern technology, your education is enhanced and your future employment opportunities increase expoenentially.
You’ll also get the opportunity to visit top-notch research facilities and laboratories to partake in potentially exciting scientific breakthroughs.
11. You’ll Become More Cultured and Wordly
Studying abroad allows you to explore the world and meet new people from a multitude of cultural backgrounds.
As a result, you’ll begin to appreciate and understand new cultures and people like never before – thereby expanding your experience and knowledge about the greater world around you.
Who knows, you might even learn some super rando facts that will help you win, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire later on in life.
So, carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad. After all, this experience will teach you a great deal about the world beyond your own backyard – knowledge that is invaluable and that could very well change your life.
12. Earn More Respect from People in Your Hometown
Picking up and moving to an entirely new country where you don’t know anyone takes a lot of guts.
And people recognize that fact.
So, when you come home after studying abroad, people will look at you a little differently and have reverance for the courage it took to put yourself out there and try something totally new.
13. You Can Earn More Money When You Apply For a Job
Many people who study abroad end up making a lot more money when they apply for a job.
And that’s mainly because when you study abroad, you can work with leading professors in your chosen field and can use the best technology to enhance your skill set – thereby making you a highly saught after employee.
So, one of the many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad is that you can attain the best aducation possible and, therefore, earn a lot more money in the long term.
14. Experience Work Culture in Other Countries
Countries around the world have very different attitudes when it comes to going to work, work culture, vacation time, and more.
Also, because the coursework for most study abroad programs is a bit light, you can probably get a part time job to see what working in a different country is like.
You can also experience how other countries perceive work and how they handle balance work life with personal life.
Who knows, you might even find that the country you visit has a much more laid back attitude when it comes to work – something that might appeal to you and that you night really enjoy as a worker.
Heck, you might even find out that you have more rights and are entitled to more benefits than you initally thought.
Disadvantages of Studying Abroad
15. It’s Expensive
One of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad is that it ain’t cheap.
In fact, not only will you have to pay for the program itself but you’ll also have to pay for things like:
- Roundtrip Flight Tickets
- Local Transportation
- Miscellaneous Expenses
- Visa Cost (varies)
- And more!
Therefore, the average study abroad program can cost you anywhere between $7,000 and $30,000 per semester.
It really just depends on where in the world you plan to study abroad, what the program entails, and whether or not housing is included.
But yeah, most study abroad programs are very much not cheap, even if you plan to study in notoriously inexpensive regions like Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa, etc.
16. You May Have Trouble Communicating With People
Since you’re looking into studying in a foreign country, it should come as no surprise that people there probably won’t speak English.
Yes, you’ll definitely find English speakers and English signage/menus in most major metropolitan areas, but the more rural the area, the less likely you’ll be able to communicate using English.
So, letting people know about your various wants and needs – when you do something simple like go to the grocery store – can be a bit tricky.
This is especially true if you go to the grocery store and none of the food packaging is in English. I mean, how do you know what the heck you are buying? LOL.
Therefore, to make your life easier, try to learn the local language (at least a little) before you start your study abroad program.
Also, remember that some study abroad programs hold lectures in an entirely different language and require you to be fluent in the local language.
Pro Tip: One of the many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad is that you will often get partnered with a local student, or “buddy”, who can show you around and help you with any communication issues.
17. You May Not Like the Food
If you’re a picky eater this is one of the many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad that you need to consider.
Because while whatever country you study in will sell major food brands like Coke, McDonald’s, and Lays, chances are good that you won’t have access to some of your favorite foods.
Or, alternatively, they may sell some of your favorite foods but they may not taste as good as home or may be altered slightly (Ex: In South Korea pizza is served with pickles and sweet potatoes).
So, do some research and make sure that you enjoy eating the traditional foods found in the country you want to study in.
This is especially important if you have any special dietary needs since things like gluten-free and vegan foods are just not readily available in some parts of the world.
18. You Might Be Exposed to Non-Ethical Things
Countries around the world have different ideas about what is “right” and what is “wrong” and about what is and is not acceptable behavior.
So, chances are pretty good that you may experience at least a little culture shock when studying abroad.
Therefore, it’s really important to do your research and know what social norms to expect before you apply to a program.
Because while things like elephant riding and eating dog may upset you, they are quite common in some parts of the world.
Yup, just another one of the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
19. Your Family Will Miss You
If you’re close with your family and friends at home, it may be difficult to know that your loved ones are sitting at home, missing you, while you’re living la vida loca at your study abroad program.
So, be the kind and compassionate human that I know you are and be sure to stay in contact. Trust me, it’s super easy and cheap these days with WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Email, and more.
If you want, you can even schedule daily Zoom calls with people back home so that you can chat with them via video while you’re away.
Pro Tip: The best (and cheapest) way to stay in touch is via WhatsApp. Just download the app and people can message you on your cell number from home. Just be sure to get a local SIM card to avoid expensive fees for using excess data.
20. You Might Face Harassment and Racism
This is one of the many pros and cons of studying abroad that I cannot emphasize enough.
Because if you want to enjoy your program and not be constantly harassed or deal with perpetual racism then you need to be acutely aware of how minorities, women, LBGTQ+ members, etc. are treated wherever you want to study.
Yeah, the last thing you need is to be harassed or made to feel like crap about yourself when you’re far from home and totally unfamiliar with the country.
Pro Tip: This is one of the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad that is not to be taken lightly since racism/harassment could result in physical harm.
So, always do your research and learn about the culture of the country you want to study in before you arrive.
Also, be sure to ask fellow women/minorities/LBGTQ+ members about their personal experiences so you know what to expect.
Yeah, homesickness is a very real thing and you should be prepared for it if you plan to study abroad.
Because when you study abroad, you might miss your favorite foods, your family, your own bed, and everything in between.
Also, depending on how far away from home you are, it may be difficult to get back home for the holidays.
Thankfully though, homesickness usually passes once you adjust and have a solid group of friends around you.
Plus, you can always ask your family and friends to send you care packages to help you deal with one of the many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
22. Lack of Transportation
Depending on where you plan to study abroad, it can be difficult to travel and get around without a car.
And that’s mainly because some places simply don’t have great bus networks and train networks to help you travel within and out of the country itself.
So, and I know I sound like a broken record here, do your research! Make sure you can easily and affordably do and see various local attractions.
This way you won’t be miserable because you’re left to sit alone in your room all day every day.
23. It Can Be a Let-Down
Sometimes we get so excited about traveling and studying abroad that we build it up to be something more than it really is.
As a result, it can be a bit of a letdown since the experience doesn’t really live up to our lofty expectations.
So, when dealing with one of the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad, try to keep it in perspective.
Yes, it will be fun and you’ll have an amazing time, but it will also be challenging and require you to do un-fun things like, DUH, study.
Therefore, prepare for the good and the bad so that you can see studying abroad as it really is and not as you want it to be.
24. Your Credits Might Not Transfer
Believe it or not, you could do all this work, travel halfway across the world, and your credits might not even transfer to your home university.
Because as you probably already know, each country and each university has its own rules when it comes to academic accreditation and graduation requirements.
Therefore, some universities might or might not accept the credits you earn while abroad or traveling in New York.
So, just double-check with your college first to see if the credits will or will not transfer.