• Study Abroad During College
  • If You're Thinking About Studying Abroad

Seven Signs That Studying Abroad Might Be Right for You

Traveling student in front of train

Are you thinking of spending a semester or year studying abroad? Here are 7 signs you’re up for the challenge.

Studying in another country can be an exhilarating academic and cultural experience that introduces you to a new culture, language, worldview, and an international network of friends. But for some students, the challenge of studying and living abroad may not be right for them. Here’s how to tell whether studying abroad is right for you:

  1. You enjoy new experiences and meeting new people. Studying and living in another country forces most students out of their comfort zone. The local customs, food, and language will likely be different from what you are used to. If this sounds more exciting than intimidating, studying abroad might be right for you.
  2. You rarely get homesick. While some students experience homesickness when studying abroad, spending prolonged periods of time wishing you were back in familiar environs can undermine your experience. If you rely on frequent communication with your parents or friends, or can't imagine missing out on social or family events back home, you might think twice about year-long or even semester-long study abroad programs.
  3. You are comfortable solving problems on your own. Being far from home means you'll be on your own to resolve any difficulties you might encounter—from resolving financial and health issues to adapting to local cultural norms. If you are able to shrug off awkward situations and handle unexpected challenges without too much stress, you might enjoy the challenges of studying in a foreign country.
  4. Studying abroad supports your academic—and graduation—goals. While study abroad credits are often transferrable to college credit here in the U.S., spending time outside of the country might affect the time it takes to complete your course requirements and when you graduate. If graduating in four years is a top priority, studying abroad, at least as an undergraduate, might not be right for you.
  5. You’re a disciplined and motivated student. Going to school in a foreign country is likely to be very different from what you are used to. Courses may be taught in another language and require language fluency. Some students find it difficult to treat their study abroad time as an extension of college and not a vacation. If these are concerns you have, studying abroad might not be right for you.
  6. You can afford it. While many study abroad programs cost the same or even less than the cost of your college here in the US, there can be other expenses, such as trips off-campus, cultural events, and personal travel throughout the region. If the cost of studying abroad is going to put you in debt or in a constant state of worry, you might want to reconsider studying abroad.
  7. You’ve done your research, and you still can’t wait to go. You are likely to learn a lot about what it is like to study and live abroad from friends and fellow students who have already done it. If you’ve heard about their most challenging and difficult experiences and are undeterred, then, you guessed it, studying abroad might be right for you.

Don’t forget short-term programs

If you think a semester or two studying abroad might not be feasible financially or if you’re just not sure it’s the right fit, you might consider a short-term program. Many colleges and organizations offer professor-guided trips, volunteer opportunities, and cultural immersion programs over mid-term and summer breaks.

What's Next?

Convinced you will study abroad? See Eight Tips for a Great Study Abroad Experience for ways to plan a meaningful and successful trip.