Studying Abroad – Why It Can Be Better Than Studying at Home


Students who choose to study abroad, even for short periods of time, come away from the experience with great personal growth. Check out the many benefits of foreign study.

College years are filled with new experiences. Students go off to live in dorms or apartments for the first time; they have to be totally responsible for themselves; they have to learn time and budget management; and, of course, they make lots of new social connections, party, and pull all-nighters to get papers done and study for finals. All of these experiences are new when they are freshmen, but become rather mundane after that. How about spicing up your college years by studying abroad? There are some pretty amazing benefits.

1. It Can be Much Cheaper

The average student in the U.S. who earns a bachelor’s degree has also earned about $35,000 in debt for that degree. And it will not get any better. Even state schools, which are supposed to be the bargains, have increased tuitions by large amounts over the past five years. American students are looking at these costs, compared to free education that students receive in most every other country in the world, and wonder why their country cannot do the same.
It’s time for more American students to look elsewhere for their educations. Many Latin-American and European countries offer free or very low cost tuition to foreign students, and, as well, have programs of study taught in English. A few examples are as follows:


  • Universities in Brazil charge a registration fee but no tuition. Lots of course programs in English too.

  • In Finland, there are no tuition fees, but living expenses are not covered.

  • Germany has very low fees, openly courts foreign students, and offers 900 course programs in English.

  • France’s public universities charge tuition, as well as its private ones. However, that tuition cost is the equivalent of about $200 U.S. a semester. The only challenge will be housing, especially in Paris – it is very difficult to find, and you must have housing in order to register. Best bet is to choose a public university outside of Paris.

  • Sweden offers free tuition to foreign students, though cost of living can be pricey compared to U.S. college towns

  • Norway also is free for anyone. Pack lots of long underwear, however, as the winters are harsh.

  • Slovenia is a little-known jewel of a place for college – its public universities offer 150 programs in English and only charge a registration fee. Cost of living is also low.

This is just a sampling and heavily weighted toward European countries. Simple research will tell you all you need to know about costs of a school you are considering – there are lots of bargains out there. Pick your geographic preference and then begin your research. Many Asian, African, and Latin American countries offer low or free tuition to foreigners.


2.Opportunities for Travel
In the United States, crossing borders to visit other countries means Canada and Mexico. From Mexico, of course, students can travel further south through Latin-America. When students study abroad, though, that have large continents, with one country right next to another. Travel is cheaper too, so the opportunity to visit many countries during breaks looms large. Students can explore and even choose countries in which they might wish to work and live after graduation.

3. A Year Abroad Through Your Home University Has Benefits

If a student takes a year abroad through his home university, he is still eligible for all of the aid and loans he would have had he stayed home. This is a pretty attractive piece of going abroad for students who do rely on financial aid and loans. The other benefit is this: if the year abroad is sanctioned by a student’s home university, all credits earned transfer back.

4. Broadened Perspective

Everyone talks about how studying abroad provides exposure to other social and cultural groups. And yes, it is an opportunity to immerse oneself in the customs and mores of a society that is different. Immersing oneself, however, should include not just the “what” of another culture, but the “why” as well. Take the time to learn and understand the historical perspective of the people of your host country. You can’t really come to know anyone until you know their story. Keep that in mind, and you will be a richer person.

5. Total Immersion into a Language

If you have a working knowledge of a language before you decide to study abroad in a country with that language, choose to take a course or two in that native language. Barring that, choose to converse only in that language on all non-academic occasions. Becoming fluent can serve you well later on.

6. Valuable Grad School Candidate

A year abroad is a great thing to be able to put in your application to grad school. You will no doubt be writing admissions essays for grad school programs, and you will want to bring in the amazing experiences you had as a foreign student. Admissions committees look favorably on students who have expanded themselves through study abroad. As you write those essays, make sure that you highlight all that you gained from the experience. And if you struggle doing that, contact a writing service, to help you encapsulate the value that you can now bring to a graduate program.

7. Career Opportunities

Many students fall in love with their host countries – the people, the traditions, the other cultural aspects. When it happens, they make a decision to finish their educations there and to look for a career locally. With a background in English and a valuable skill, students find that careers are open to them.
On the other hand, you may return home, only to find that you are more valuable to potential employers because of your experience.
There are lots of companies with global reaches. You may find a phenomenal job opportunity with home base in your home country but the opportunity to return to another place you love too.

8. Exposure to New Leisure Time Activities

At home, you probably have certain outside activities you enjoy during your leisure time – maybe swim or lay tennis. Popular sports and other activities vary from country to country. You may very well pick up an interest in something you would never have tried at home. Music and concerts will be different; popular singers and actors will be different. You’ll see movies that would never have been available at home.

9. New Lifelong Friends

Back at home, you have friends that you know are for a lifetime – those that you grew up with all through school. Here’s the thing about studying abroad: you will make more lifelong friends – fellow students with whom you just “click.” For the rest of your lives, you will stay connected and celebrate each other milestones. You will visit one another, perhaps attend each other’s weddings. These relationships are valuable and fulfilling.

10. Personal Growth

Being on your own in a foreign country will give you all kinds of opportunities for developing independence, confidence that you can navigate through new circ***tances and challenges, and a sense of being an “explorer.” Your flexibility and ability to adapt will be “tested” and developed. Once you have successfully moved through this experience, you know you will be able to take on challenges that life has to offer.

Wrapping it Up

Students who have had the opportunity to study abroad, whether for a summer, a semester, a year, or for an entire degree program do not regret having done so. They have had experiences that could not have been duplicated at home; they have developed a world view that their counterparts have not; they have grown personally; and they have a value that they can bring to future employers.

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