Advantages and Disadvantages of Studying Abroad
The idea of studying abroad can seem like a fabulous opportunity, but there are also plenty of potential challenges: practical, financial, and psychological.
As a British person who has experienced other European countries and now lives in the USA, I can certainly testify that living away from your home country can be difficult at times.
I wouldn’t wish to put anyone off, though, as experiencing other countries is usually rewarding and life enriching. You can also pick up some practical skills too, such as learning a new language.
Below are the main advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
Benefits of Studying Abroad
- Life’s an adventure. Living abroad can be great fun and it broadens your perspective on life – there are new friends to make, new experiences to have, plus you’ll always have lots of stories to tell to the folks back home.
- You can learn another language and immersing yourself in a place where they speak another tongue is the only good way to become fluent. Even if you are not studying that particular language on your study course, it may well come in useful later when you are seeking employment, or in your personal life.
- You can explore another culture. They say that travel broadens the mind and finding out about other cultures can be fascinating. It can also give you insights and perspective on your home culture.
- You may have better study opportunities abroad than you do at home. You may be able to do a course that you couldn’t do in your home country, or be able to study at a college or university that specializes in your chosen area of study.
- Mentioning that you have studied abroad can look very good to potential employers when it comes to applying for jobs. The fact that you have lived and studied abroad shows that you possess valuable workplace qualities such as independence, initiative, and resilience. It also shows that you are not afraid of a challenge and that you can be adaptable if the circumstances demand it.
Downsides of Studying Abroad
- You may experience language problems if you are studying in a place where they speak a different language to your native one. Learning a new language can be tougher than you think, especially if you need to understand it thoroughly enough to complete an educational course that is conducted in it (plus it can make the process of gaining new friends and social networking more difficult).
- You may well experience culture shock. Even if you have researched it extensively and think you know a country, you will find lots of things are very different when you actually live there. Some of the differences might be practical and obvious, but others might be more subtle – there are likely to be social and psychological differences in how people relate to each other and behave, for instance.
- You may find yourself feeling alone and without any of the social and emotional support from relatives and old friends that you might normally take for granted back in your home country. Making and developing friendships takes time and it can be more difficult in a culture that you are not used to.
- There are likely to be increased costs involved with studying abroad – both with the expense of your education and with everyday living. Language and cultural differences can sometimes make finding part-time work more difficult. Financial pressures can undermine your overall enjoyment of an experience if you are not careful.
What is the Definition of Studying Abroad?
The term "studying abroad" typically refers to a program run by an educational establishment, such as a university, which enables a student to live in a foreign country while studying at a foreign place of learning. Study periods can be as short as a single semester, or as long as a year or more. As well as learning from their course, the student also develops through immersing themselves in the surrounding and initially unfamiliar culture and environment.
How Much Spending Money Do I Need to Study Abroad?
This depends on the cost of living in the host country, as well as how luxuriously or frugally you wish to live there. However, assuming that you've already taken into account the study fees for your chosen course, you will also need money for:
- Food and clothing
- Linen, sheets, pillow cases, bathroom products, and other everyday items
- Domestic expenses, such as utilities, phone connection and internet
- Any study related costs, such as laptop, books, files and folders
- Transport to and from college
- Health care
- Travel to and from your home country to the host country at the start and end of course, as well as during holidays if it's a long course
Tips For Studying Abroad
Be prepared to:
- Learn as much as you can about your host country before you commit/arrive.
- Learn the language and culture of your host country while you're living there.
- Go out of your comfort zone at times and be open to new experiences.
- Be prepared to do things on your own, or with people from the local culture when abroad, rather than just sticking with people from your home country all the time.
- Treat the experience as an adventure - don't forget to enjoy yourself!
10 Quotes About Studying Abroad
- “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ― Henry Miller
- “Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone” – Wendell Berry
- “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries” – Aldous Huxley
- “Coming back is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett
- “You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.” — Geoffrey Willans
- “Change your language and you change your thoughts” – Karl Albrecht
- “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine
- “I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a large scale” – Scott Fitzgerald
“Not all classrooms have four walls” – Unknown
What is the Best Place to Study Abroad?
Below is a list of the top 10 QS Best Student Cities 2019. A variety of indicators are considered, including desirability and affordability, in order to rank the best places in the world to be a student.
- London, United Kingdom
- Tokyo, Japan
- Melbourne, Australia
- Munich, Germany
- Berlin, Germany
- Montreal, Canada
- Paris, France
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Sydney, Australia
- Hong Kong SAR, Hong Kong SAR, and Seoul, Korea tied for tenth place.
Having read through the advantages and disadvantages, do you think that you will study (or live) abroad?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
What are the disadvantages of studying abroad?
Language can be problematic. Living in another culture can be a challenge too. Psychological pressures such as homesickness and loneliness can affect one's work as well as cause misery. In many cases it can work out to be a lot more expensive studying abroad. Differences in education may mean that you find yourself on a course that is either far too easy, or far too difficult.Helpful 129
What is the best age for a girl to travel abroad?
That depends on a number of factors, which include: the personality and maturity of the girl, the safety of the country visited, language abilities and cultural considerations. Some young women may be ready to travel at the age of 18, for others it may be in their mid-twenties, a minority may be uncomfortable with travel under any circumstances.Helpful 50
What are the problems faced by a country if someone goes to study abroad?
The primary problem is that the person will continue to live abroad after completing their studies, not bringing their newly acquired education and expertise back to the country they left.Helpful 67
© 2012 Paul Goodman