Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

So You Think You Can Study Abroad? Part One

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GSU chapter.

Are you going to study abroad? Considering it but don’t know where to start? Afraid of the cost? Worried about something so different? Do your parents wish for you not to go? Never fear! Study abroad can be such a rewarding experience, but getting advice on it is essential for a good time. Here are some things I wish I knew before heading across the Atlantic. 

Nothing will be like how you imagine, everything will be worth it.

Being the dreamer I am, I have an active imagination. This combined with my love for film and a nice love story montage made me dream of my study abroad like some fashion commercial or indie movie. The reality was much more surreal. I was alone more than I thought I would be, which was great, but sometimes was awkward when I had to ask a stranger to snap that Instagram worthy pic. You may not always have the money to eat at the Café de Flore in Paris or the Jubilee Tea Salon in London. After long nights of studying, I ate more Subway and Tesco salads than I care to admit. You will feel so weird the first few weeks, it can take months to adjust to a foreign land (which is why I highly recommend staying a year if you want a true experience). But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Being alone while traveling can seem a bit scary, but it gave me the option to do things at my pace. I wasn’t on anyone else’s time. Having to ask a stranger to snap a pic usually led to having a new acquaintance. 



You may not always be friends with the people from your school.

As with roommates, much of pop culture romanticizes the idea of being with someone for so long. In reality, roommates can just be people you happen to share a space with. Likewise, you can perhaps only talk to the people in your exchange when you need to. Or, in the tragedy of my case, get to know the people who go over with you only to fall out and go your separate ways due to inconsolable differences. I think the biggest mistake I made was indeed romanticizing this relationship. I saw these people as the only family I had here, so I felt like I HAD to make it work with them. It’s great if you all have a connection and have things in common and you really feel at home with them. But even after a few weeks if you feel like you’re forcing it or dragging yourself to be with them, just cut it. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be cordial with them, but a lot of my sanity would have been saved if I had not tried so hard to build a relationship with people who were not compatible with me.

Budget or be sorry

Let’s be real: you always get bougie when you’re in a new place. In my case, I had thousands, the most money I had ever in my entire life, at my disposal. This, of course, had to be spent on my accommodation (In the UK you pay for your housing in three installments after you’ve moved in) but I was buying impulsively. Now I have to admit you will most likely do this when you first get there – jet lag can cause you to be quiet impatient and tired, so you usually just buy the first thing you see. This is normal, you haven’t had time to explore the other stores and price compare. But after you have settled in and are able to think without wanting to sleep every minute, I would say check out the nearest dollar store or something for stuff for your dorm. You are, of course only going to use most of the stuff for the year before donating it, so there’s no need to invest in a premium kitchen set unless you’ll have the money to send it back to your home (which will most likely be more than 100 dollars). For me, in England, Wilko, Pound Land, Tesco, Ikea, and PRIMARK were my best friends.

I would say set money aside from your housing after you buy stuff for your place, or you will be sorry. In America we don’t have to worry about this as we pay upfront, but if your exchange is like this see if you can pay at least most of it so you know how much you will have. Try to use cash so you see how much you’re spending. Unless your study abroad is on a very tight schedule, like perhaps one on spring break, you should absolutely travel out and see other parts of the country and the continent you’re on. Make sure you plan for travel and set aside money for that so you’re not digging into your savings. Never go back home absolutely broke.

That’s all for now collegiates, but no need to fear this is just the start! There is more to cover, from being homesick, to how to afford going abroad. While I am not sure how many pieces will be in this study abroad series, part two will definitely be coming soon! 


Makeda Phillips is a writer with too many dreams to count. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, she attempts to weave humor, integrity, and beauty through her work. Her poems have been published in Vox Teen Newspaper, GSU's Underground, The Wren's Nest's teen journal Smoke Signals, Georgia's Best Emerging Poets, Northumbria University's magazine The Edge, and her first play, 2.97, was produced by the Northumbria Drama Society in Newcastle, England. Makeda is currently studying English and Art History at Georgia State University. She plans to take over the world upon graduation, or whatever people do with their degrees nowadays.
The GSU chapter of Her Campus