This week, a lot of university students received confirmation about their study abroad applications: I was excited to hear from my American Studies friends about where they would be going, next year, in America. I’ll admit that I was a teeny bit jealous when I heard about all the amazing places that they would be going to: Arizona, Oregan, Florida, New York etc. As an English student, I did have the option to go on a year abroad in my third year, but I ultimately decided against it, and chose to stay here in the UK.
These were my personal reasons for not going on a year abroad; I felt that these were extremely important in weighing up whether to go or not.
- Money. Whilst a lot of advertising for studying abroad claims that finance is not something which shouldn’t stop you, I did feel that money was a factor which would affect my decision. Although your tuition fees are paid for, like in the UK, and you receive the same maintenance grant, this is often not enough to cover the cost of both accommodation and living, by itself. Also, it would be difficult to assess the exact cost of everything from an entirely different place – I didn’t feel that I would be secure enough to guarantee that I could afford it.
- Personal relationships. I couldn’t imagine not being able to see my family and friends, and being so far away from them in a different country. Flights home would have been very scarce, for me, meaning that I might not have been able to spend Christmas with my family. And I certainly wouldn’t have been able to live with my university housemates like I have this year, who I have found have really become a rock-solid foundation for me, in this new life. I want to experience them for as long as possible, while I’m living in Leicester.
- Home. Simply, I couldn’t quite imagine living somewhere other than the UK (yet). I’m a Londoner by blood and forget how much I love the place until I come home and breathe the smog air. In my first year, I’d started to explore places in the UK over than London: the exciting differences in the North and the West, and there is still much more that I need to explore. So, I’d like to experience more of my country, before venturing out into the big wild world with others!
Despite this, I do not disagree with the concept of studying in another country for a year. I think it’s an incredible opportunity that university students are so lucky to get, and a big part of me would love to go on a year abroad. I haven’t travelled much during my life, but from the little experience I have had, I can imagine that holidays are nothing compared to living everyday life in a different country.
Here are some of the reasons why I think going on a year abroad would be a really valuable experience:
- Novelty. Studying abroad is an extraordinary opportunity which – whilst certainly not impossible or limited to university – is difficult to set up later in life. The university will have strong connections with the chosen foreign university, and it may be able to gain access to experiences, classes and opportunities which may not otherwise be available.
- Value. Living and studying – and possibly even working – for a year, in another country, would be an extremely valuable life experience: it would potentially give you more life skills and an increase view of life and the rest of the world. Additionally, it would also be a very impressive experience to put on your CV, for prospective employers. Studying in a different country would open up a whole new array of modules, topics and themes which you could be taught about, giving you a lot more variety.
- Fun. The most important factor in choosing whether to go on a year abroad is whether it would be fun or not, and I’d imagine it very much would be! New people, new food, new places, new experiences… there would be so much to explore, see and do! You would get to live in a whole new environment, (possibly) climate, and culture!
But the decision to study abroad is a decision which can only come from that you. Considering all of the factors will take a while, and in the end the choice may partially come down to gut feeling. But it is ultimately important that you are happy with the decision you make – it’s your future; you get to choose how it goes.
Be happy! 🙂