Whether you’re completely sure that you want to do a study abroad semester during your college career, or you’re thinking about taking a semester abroad, you’ve probably read and heard about the study abroad experience. As you go into this important decision-making process, or if you’re already in it, we want to help you explore this perspective experience.
Although we know it can be life-changing, it can seem scary or uncertain based on myths surrounding study abroad so it’s important to address them. We encourage you speak with your parents about the idea of going abroad, and in the meantime, we want to share our responses to some myths and opinions surrounding the study abroad experience.
While there can be multiple concerns about studying abroad, the experience is entirely positive and beneficial to one’s academic life and life experience itself.
Here are 5 myths about study abroad:
Whenever going abroad, one concern you and perhaps your parents may have is the safety of the region in which you will be studying abroad. However, you must consider that your university would not have a program in place if it was not safe for students.
EdOdyssey makes safety a priority, as safety issues and rules are reviewed on the first day. There is also a handbook that has been created with tips, advice, and suggestions that is reviewed with study abroad students. Additionally, most students are already away from home to study at their university, so they are accustomed to keeping themselves safe in an environment other than their own home.
You may have felt nervous or excited about going to college, and this experience is an extension of your college experience. Starting something new can always be scary, but the benefits are endless!
2. Food Concerns
Are you concerned about trying new foods or breaking your routine? Some students may be picky eaters and not even consider areas to study abroad due to the food. Prior to travelling abroad to China and Peru, I was not very adventurous with trying new foods.
I quickly overcame this while abroad by trying as many new foods as possible and I was able to expand my tastes in this way. If one is strongly concerned about food, it can be very limiting to one’s experiences, as one of the most important aspects of studying abroad is try new things and widen one’s view of the world, and this includes trying new foods.
Food is a gateway to new cultures and customs, as you will get the experience to see and feel how people go about their meals. Additionally, if one has food allergies or special diets, EdOdyssey will work with them to take into account with homestays and restaurants.
Chances are that you will find foods that you like! You just have to take the leap and try them!
3. Not Adding Value
One negative perception of studying abroad may be that it will not add value to one’s academic experience in college. One may really enjoy their university and being on campus, but can only view themselves staying on campus for all four years.
Through studying abroad, not only will you receive an academic experience outside of one’s campus, but also invaluable life experience. The result of being abroad is personal growth that one may not obtain by staying on campus.
Study abroad has the power to adjust the focus, or the direction, of your studies and even shift your mindset.
4. Not Overcoming Homesickness
One of the largest fears when being abroad is feeling homesick. When I was in Peru, within the first two weeks, I felt a sense of disconnect from what I was doing. I loved my classes and everyone I met, but I found myself questioning why I was there but you’ll get past it.
I overcame this by contacting my family and friends more and reflecting on my experience. I realized that my experience had been nothing but positive, and I solely needed to cherish my time in Peru more. This is a natural feeling that is not bad in any way at all.
Nevertheless, fear of homesickness should not discourage one from going abroad to study. When studying abroad, you create your own routine abroad, thereby creating a home away from home. You will always have a place to come and visit again, including your homestay family and friends you make abroad!
It is great to go outside of your comfort zone, outside of the bubble in which you may have lived your entire life.
FOMO or “The Fear of Missing Out” is something that is very relatable for anyone on campus. The idea of studying abroad may trigger this fear of missing out on any activities at school, opportunities, or losing friendships.
Although this is a reasonable fear, but you must remember that one of the goals of study abroad is to take time to take a step out to see and appreciate the value in what you have as well as to benefit yourself. This is a case where it is okay to be selfish because you don’t want to regret not having done it later when you get a full-time job, have more bills to pay, and you’re out in the real world.
It can be harder to make these leaps abroad as we get older so you should do it now while you have the time, energy and mobility to do it. Studying abroad is a personal experience, one that becomes shaped by yourself.
If you are considering studying abroad, it is a great idea for you to take the first step. This entails talking to someone such as an advisor or study abroad coordinator at your school and coming up with a game plan. When I was considering studying abroad during my gap year, I contacted Peter with EdOdyssey and after talking about the benefits of traveling abroad, it led me to decide to travel to Peru and China. I did not regret my decision, and if you study abroad, you won’t either!
Please Submit Your Study Abroad Inquiry to start the conversation about studying abroad!