I’ve lived, worked, and travelled in a fair number of countries around the world at this point.
But I’m still waiting to study abroad!
It’s been on my bucket list for years though. I want to go to France, take a language course, immerse myself in the culture and walk away with “learn another language” ticked off my bucket list.
I get excited when I think about it, though there’s a definite dose of apprehension in there too…
I mean, I’ll be in a place I can’t really communicate, in a new culture I don’t fully understand, surrounded by people I don’t know, doing something difficult.
In others words, I’ll be totally out of my comfort zone.
So, to settle my nerves and wrap my head around everything, I decided to look into the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad I have ahead of me (whenever I finally make it happen!).
Are you thinking about studying abroad and, like me, want to find out more about the experience?
Well, keep reading for all of the study abroad advantages and study abroad disadvantages I could find.
16 Study Abroad Advantages and Disadvantages
Spoiler alert: there are definitely more advantages of studying abroad than there are disadvantages.
Nevertheless, it didn’t take long to realize that we would indeed have pros and cons of studying abroad to bear in mind. I’ll go through both in the coming post- starting with the positives!
9 Amazing Studying Abroad Advantages
As you’d expect, there’s no shortage of studying abroad benefits to look forward to. Here’s a selection of the top study abroad advantages that stand out amongst the rest:
1. You’re Forced Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Being outside your comfort zone is never easy (more on this in the disadvantages of studying abroad section).
But it is an amazing way to develop as a person!
Challenging yourself in any realm of life is the best way to realize what you’re capable of as a human being. Instead of running from obstacles (and fear), you lean into them, come through the hardship, and discover new things about yourself in the process.
Studying abroad will test you in a wide range of ways. However, you’ll come home as a more mature, confident, skilled, and empowered person as a result.
2. You Meet Amazing People (Primary pros of studying abroad)
In my experience, spending time overseas is an incredible way to cross paths with new and interesting people.
You’ll meet cool and friendly faces from all walks of life and with different ways of life too. You’ll hang out with the locals, interact with people on your course, and make a brand new set of friends.
Even better, those friendships will last far longer than your time studying!
You’ll go home having made lifelong connections in a brand new part of the world.
3. It (Often) Contributes Towards Your Degree
Okay, this one doesn’t always apply- so don’t take my word for it! Be sure to check/confirm this advantage of studying abroad before you go.
Nevertheless, the credits you earn while time studying abroad may contribute to your degree programme back home.
That means you get an epic experience without falling behind your peers!
Don’t worry if it doesn’t contribute to your degree though. You can always make up those extra credits another way and your life-changing experience overseas should more than justify any extra effort that’s required to do it.
4. You Enjoy Newfound Independence
For some people, studying abroad will give them a first taste of true independence.
They big farewell to parents at the airport and step out into the big wide world. It’s scary, but exhilarating. Nobody knows who you are and nobody you know is there to set any rules.
You can do what you want and be who you want, with no fear of judgment or retribution.
In other words, you can have pure, unencumbered fun and figure out who you want to be when you get back home.
5. You Can Travel! (My personal favourite of the studying abroad benefits!)
Studying abroad is something of a misnomer.
Sure, you’re going to do some studying. Yet you’re in a brand new country, possibly on the other side of world, surrounded by unmissable sights and attractions…
It’s natural to go exploring too!
And I’m 100% sure that it’ll be one of my personal favourite benefits of studying abroad.
Evenings, weekends, and vacations could be spent lazing on the local beach, wandering around the wonders of the world, immersing yourself in the cultural scene of the area, or hopping on a bus to nowhere and seeing where you end up.
Put simply, you get to travel– to explore a new place and experience a new culture (more on this next). That, for me, is reason enough to go studying abroad in the first place.
6. You’re Experience a New Culture
Going overseas makes you realize that there’s more to life than your own backyard.
You see that the world is big, that your bubble of friends and family is small, and that you’ve got some serious exploring to do!
Study abroad and you’ll step into another world- into another culture.
The local people may have customs and traditions that you don’t understand, a way of life that’s a total mystery, and values at complete odds with your own. It’s fascinating, enlightening, and an education all of its own.
7. Job Prospects Improve Back Home
Another advantage of studying abroad is that your horizons at home improve too.
Basically, employers like the fact that you’ve been overseas to study!
It makes you more interesting than the other candidates. It makes you different, adds a string to your bow, and indicates a set of personal qualities (independence, confidence, maturity…) that will serve you well in forthcoming job applications.
Furthermore, you’ll walk away from your time overseas with newfound self-belief. That’s always a bonus when you’re applying for jobs.
8. You Get to Learn a New Language
Let’s not forget that you have an amazing opportunity to learn a new language too.
After all, you might be in France, Spain, or South America; China, Germany, or Greece…
It doesn’t matter where you go really. As long as they speak a different language, you can come away speaking something new (and impressing your friends and family in the process).
9. You’ll Have Some Fun Stories to Tell
Last but not least, studying overseas is an adventure. It’s a way to embrace life- to do something cool and different and memorable.
You step away from the norm, experience something totally different, and end up with unforgettable, fun-filled stories to tell as a result. You’ll never be short of a tale to tell around the dinner table and forge memories of foreign exploits that’ll last a lifetime.
You might also enjoy this post about the advantages and disadvantages of travelling! Check it out!
7 Noteworthy Study Abroad Disadvantages
The advantages studying abroad has to offer are both significant and wide-ranging. However, there are definite drawbacks of studying abroad that are worth acknowledging too.
Here are a few of the most noteworthy studying abroad disadvantages:
1. Comfort Zone Pushes & Shoves
As I said before, studying abroad isn’t going to be easy. Far from it. The whole experience will push you out of your comfort zone and into something altogether more challenging.
The good news is that there’s (almost) always a happy ending.
But the road to get there is sure to test you.
There will be ups and downs, peaks and troughs, sad times and uncertain times. You might feel lonely, isolated, unsure of yourself and unclear why you ever left home in the first place.
It’s never fun at the time. Rest assured, though, it will make you stronger! Like a phoenix that rises from the flames, you’ll discover your inner resilience and come through feeling more capable and independent thereafter.
2. Navigating a New Language
I can say from personal experience how challenging it can be to wrap your head around a new language. Get ready to feel lost, befuddled, and confused as you strike up conversations with the locals!
It’s something I find personally difficult.
For one thing, I don’t like asking someone to repeat themselves more than twice! It gets to the third time and I just stand there nodding my head- pretending like I understood…
Then there’s the whole ‘I can’t communicate with anybody so I feel alone’ thing. That’s never fun either. I find that it can be quite isolating when you don’t know the language.
Thankfully, this shouldn’t be an issue when you’re studying overseas.
There’ll always be someone who speaks your language; there might even be entire classrooms of them. Yet you’re sure to experience the occasional moment of difficulty- especially if you put the effort into learning the language (which you should!).
3. Overcoming the Culture Shock! (Top studying abroad disadvantages!)
Experiencing a new culture is just as amazing as I said in the ‘study abroad advantages’ section.
However, it’s got its downsides too.
Different cultures can be hard to wrap your head around. You realize that your way of life isn’t the norm anymore; you’re the odd one out and don’t (at least to begin with) know how to fit in.
You might say or do the wrong thing. You might insult somebody without meaning to. You might have a different sense of humour, have different ideas about right and wrong, and approach life in a wholly different way to the locals.
The good news is that (more often than not) it doesn’t take long to grow accustomed to the new way of life. But there’s no denying things can feel discombobulating along the way.
4. Dealing With a New Climate
Don’t underestimate the impact of a new climate either.
Imagine growing up in a hot country that enjoys a lot of sunshine throughout the year. Stepping off the plane into a place that’s dark and cold and rains all the time can be a serious shock to your system…And vice versa, of course.
It can impact your mood, give you the blues, and hinder your enjoyment of the experience. Of course, it can also make things uncomfortable if you’re not well-suited to the weather/temperature!
You might sleep badly, find it harder to exercise, and struggle with your motivation.
Thankfully, you can and will adapt! Give it a bit of time and your body/brain will automatically adjust to the new environment.
5. The Financial Cost
Going overseas can be expensive too…especially if you’re going to be charged the nightmarishly high fees that foreign students often have to cover!
Throw in the cost of travel, accommodation, food, and so on, and your bank balance can definitely suffer.
Don’t let that stop you though. Hustle, scrimp, scrounge, and save over time and you’ll soon have enough in your account to pay for the trip.
Look into possible scholarships, funds, or schemes that may contribute to/cover the costs too.
Likewise, if you’re doing a degree in your home country, there might even be an exchange/Erasmus scheme where the cost of studying overseas is the same as you’d be paying at home. With the tuition fee sorted, you’d “only” have to think about living expenses and so on.
6. Handling Homesickness
Homesickness has and always will be a natural by-product of venturing far away from your home, friends, and family.
And it’s never fun. In fact, you can expect days (especially at the start, when the initial excitement wears off) when you’ll miss home so much it hurts.
But it won’t last forever! Homesickness comes and goes, waxes and wanes, and may, after a while, disappear altogether. You’ll adapt to your new lifestyle and location, and grow accustomed to being away.
In fact, by the end of your trip you might not even want to go back…
7. Reverse Homesickness
‘Reverse homesickness’ is my term for missing life overseas when you eventually get home! Put simply, coming home is hard when you’ve had such an amazing experience.
It’s a strange mixture of emotions.
Of course, it’ll be lovely to see everyone and be back in your own bed again. But you’ll soon yearn to be travelling, exploring, and studying in the other country again too.
You’ll miss the people you met and the connections you made, and suffer intense nostalgia that the trip has come to an end. In my experience of travel, everything at home will feel exactly the same, whereas you feel fundamentally different!
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Studying Abroad
Are you, like me, thinking of studying abroad in future? And are you, like me, a little intimidated by the idea of what’s to come?
Well, I hope the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad that I’ve talked about in this post have shed useful light on the experience and helped settle your nerves!
Though the disadvantages of studying abroad are very real, it seems clear that the advantages of studying abroad far outweigh them. Dive into the experience of studying overseas and you’ll come away with a host of new skills, insights, memories, friends, and stories to tell.