When I tell anyone that I'm studying abroad in London, they always reply with "Wow! I'm so jealous." or "That's so exciting. Are you excited?". I obviously reply yes. The ability to go to London to study is one that I am constantly thankful for, but I meet it with slight apprehension and fear. I've hardly stepped foot outside of my small town alone, let alone lived in another country. College itself is a huge challenge. Am I ready to face it five thousand miles outside of my comfort zone?
The fact of the matter is, the pros outweigh the cons. When looking into a study abroad program for yourself, you have to consider a few key things.
I'm in the Global Liberal Studies Core Program with NYU, this means that after taking liberal studies for two years, I get to transfer into their esteemed College of Arts and Sciences to finish off with a major in Journalism. Studying abroad makes sense for me because I'm looking to gain a world view that can be translated into my writing and reporting. Living in another country will do wonders for those studying language, history, art or maybe even business. Does it make sense for someone who's a math major to go to Rome just to learn the same thing they could back home? Not financially. Here are three things you need to consider before deciding if studying abroad is right for you.
1. The financial aspect
That's another thing to consider. It costs a lot of money to move across the country. I can't bring all my stuff over, have to cook my own food and fly back and forth a total of 3 times. All of that money definitely adds up. Financial aid helps, but my parents are putting a lot of their own assets into this opportunity for me. It's important that you lay out this financial commitment with whoever is helping pay for your education as soon as you decide as there isn't much time between the decision and the first payment.
2. If you have the time
Time is definitely a factor in the process. If you go to a big school, there are a lot of students looking to get away for their education. The earliest you should be in to speak to a counselor is second semester, after you've settled in and gotten to know the programs and what you'd like to major it. They can help with deciding where you would fit in and how it would affect your course load and bank account. Going in early can also help prepare you for the financial deficit. If you don't leave for another two semesters, there's a decent amount of time for you to get a job and start saving, even if it's just part-time. If you don't have the time to put forth an extra effort to get there, perhaps it isn't a good fit.
3. How well you handle stress
The most important factor, I think, is your personal ability to handle stress. The pressures that come with college will only be doubled when you're so far away. You'll have to learn how to manage your stress in a new way. Moreover, a new timezone and atmosphere will definitely change the way you feel. If you're used to a certain type of climate, then it might be hard to adjust. It's a huge challenge, but if you set your mind to it, there's no way you won't be able to overcome it. However, you have to listen to yourself. If you feel like it might be too much, studying in a foreign country may not be a good fit.
There are so many upsides to studying abroad, however. You'll get to meet new people, see new things, and experience a life you wouldn't have otherwise. You'll never know what opportunities may wait for you if you don't find out. If you're interested, make an inquiry with your school as soon as possible!