Many colleges and universities offer programs where you can study abroad for a semester or more. Sometimes this is a part of a specific degree program, such as a foreign language, archeology or cultural anthropology, where visiting a specific area of the world can help you advance that particular program. Other times, it's just a way for you to spend a semester abroad, learning about a different culture and area of the world while you take classes. If you are considering studying abroad, here are some considerations:
Weighing the Cost:
Studying abroad for a semester can come with a hefty price tag. It's important to research the cost with your school to make sure you completely understand the cost and that you are certain you are taking complete advantage of any financial aid for which you qualify. Your semester abroad may indeed be the most expensive semester of your college career, but the cost needs to be weighed against the opportunity. For many the ability to travel and live in a foreign country for period of time is worth the extra cost. Often studying abroad will be less expensive than staying abroad for the same length of time later in life, and there are often unique scholarships for studying abroad.
Personal and Professional Growth:
Your college years are a time of considerable growth and personal development. You are challenged in your classes and exposed to new ideas and experiences outside of class. It's likely that many of the things in your college life that cause real growth have nothing to do with being in class.
Living and going to school overseas can be an utterly transformative experience. Being exposed to a different culture can open your eyes to new ideas and different ways of doing things. You'll meet people you otherwise would not have met and have experiences you otherwise would not have had. You'll return to the Unites States with a widened perspective and quite possibly a new world view.
This experience can help you personally and professionally. Personally, new and different experiences under your belt, you may end up learning a lot about yourself, and your abilities. Professionally, studying abroad has widened your perspective on the world, which can often make you more well-rounded in your career.
Practice a Foreign Language:
If part of your high school or college career included learning a foreign language, then traveling to a country that speaks that language is a great way to deepen your understanding of it. You never truly know a language until you've been immersed in it completely and forced to speak it on a daily basis. Several weeks in the country will allow you to further master a language.
The bottom line is, traveling abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you can make it work financially and it fits in with your degree program's curriculum, you should take advantage of it. You'll grow up a lot while living abroad and it will be an experience you'll never forget.