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The Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

A lot of people have been anxiously, intensely, and excitedly working on their study abroad application as the deadline to apply just passed earlier this week. It seems to be a trend at Brandeis that most juniors leave campus second semester to explore the far, and often obscure, corners of the world. With that being said, a fair amount of juniors stay on campus.

What divides these two groups of juniors? And how does one make the decision to study abroad or not? For freshman and sophomores who might have study abroad on their mind it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of studying abroad.

  1. A con for many pre med and science-oriented students is the lack of accepted science courses abroad. This can play a serious role in deciding if one can even go abroad regardless of their desire to do so.
  2. Another con is the culture shock of going to a new country; many people are uncomfortable and taken aback by a new country and a new set of cultural norms and values. This can make people uncomfortable and homesick.
  3. The language barrier of a new country is also something that people get very nervous about, or tend to completely forget about until they get to the country. Before deciding to study abroad it is important to pay attention to the language that is predominately spoken in that other country or if English is widely taught and spoken. If not one should be aware of the challenges that will play both socially and educationally.
  4. A lot of people worry about being so far away from home if they go abroad and that they will become homesick. It is important to remember that studying abroad doesn’t necessarily take you across the world. One could go to Canada or Mexico and they would still have the cultural experience of living in a new country.
  5. Programs can be expensive and credits might not transfer to your home school

While the cons of studying abroad are important to keep in mind, there are a lot of positives in studying abroad as well.

  1. You get to fully immerse yourself in a new culture which is both an eye opening and educational experience
  2. You can travel around a part of the world that you wouldn’t normally go and become very familiar and comfortable in a new country with new people
  3. You will also meet people from all over the world, many will live in the country you are visiting but many will also be studying abroad just as you are.
  4. Studying abroad is a great way to become more independent as you will have to learn to navigate a new place on your own, manage your own finances, and make choices with minimal overhead supervision.
  5. Studying abroad can open up new and exciting job opportunities and build a professional network as well

There are many, many reasons and topics to sort through when you are deciding if studying abroad is right for you. Definitely take the time to talk to friends and family members who might have studied abroad and look up different programs and pro and cons lists for further information. I am a huge supporter of study abroad because I believe it offers invaluable life lessons, gives you the opportunity to explore a new place as a local and not someone on vacation, and offers a great window into another way of life. However, I am not fluent in any language besides English; I did not want that to stop me from studying abroad so I chose to study in Sydney, Australia where the dominant language is English. 


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