THE DECISION TO STUDY abroad didn’t always seem like an obvious choice. In fact, there are several reasons it didn’t make any sense.
I delayed my graduation by six months. It took a four-page persuasive essay to change my dad’s opinion on the matter. I put my ever-ambitious career on hold. Most of all, I broke the bank… and then some.
In spite of these deterrents, my semester of international study was still the best investment I’ve ever made. We’ve all heard the classic excuses not to study abroad; I had some of them too. But they simply don’t offer compelling reasons to miss out.
1. It’s too much work to apply.
You applied to college, didn’t you? Study abroad applications are a far less arduous process. While some more competitive programs may require recommendations and essays, they’re generally not even close to as time-consuming. If your school has a study abroad office, have an adviser walk you through the entire process.
2. I can’t graduate on time.
Got history or art requirements? Language classes you need to take care of? Almost every international university will offer equivalent classes. If you take courses for your major early on, you can hold off on general ed requirements and take them abroad instead.
If all else fails, embrace the extra semester. Who’s rushing to graduate in this jobless economy anyway?
3. My parents / friends / significant other don’t want me to.
Going abroad is an incredible opportunity that builds maturity, worldliness, and independence. The people who want the best for you will encourage you to take the opportunity to go, and there’s nothing that can test the strength of a relationship like a couple of months apart.
4. I’ll get homesick.
You’ll undeniably have to give up certain things for a couple of months: heaven on earth in the form of your multiple down comforters, those bangin’ banana pancakes from the diner across the street, cuddle sessions with your chinchilla…
However, you’ll be able keep up with your friends’ and family’s lives via Facebook, probably down to what your roommate had for breakfast. And hey, cuddling might be out, but you can still blow your chinchilla kisses over Skype video chat.
5. I can’t afford it.
Plenty of college students don’t have the means to drop several grand over the course of a few months, especially when most are just scraping by on a college budget.
However, studying abroad really doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think, especially if you’re not adamant about studying in a major European city. Sometimes you’ll find that the cost of a semester at an international university is comparable to the cost of a semester at your home university.
Moreover, many study abroad programs allow you to use your financial aid, and there are scholarships galore available for students who need a little help.
6. I can always travel after I graduate.
Of course you can always travel later, but studying abroad is a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture for several months and experience an entirely fresh educational system (while experiencing an equally fresh nightlife, should you so desire).
Let’s be honest; most people only have the stamina for the globetrotting lifestyle when they’re young. Once you’re tied down with real-life bills and obligations, it won’t be so easy to drop everything and go.
Which all means that your excuses simply don’t measure up. Liberate yourself from them, and hit the road.
Need more motivation? Ask yourself: What am I waiting for?
Or have a look at what Pico Iyer, one of travel’s foremost advocates, has to say about why we travel.
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Teresa Wu is from the San Francisco Bay Area. She's visited over 20 countries by the age of 20. Her interests include travel, cake, and the internet — in that order. Read more about all three at her blog