The Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad
Studying overseas catapults you into adulthood like nothing else
I went to a small international high school where everyone knew everyone. As laid back as that sounds, it wasn’t great (for me, anyway). Drama feasted on the insecurities of teens who were trying to find themselves, which wreaked havoc. A small population meant that rumors spread faster and there wasn’t much space to hide from any of the bullshit.
By the time I turned 18, I had gained a better understanding of who I was. I still wanted to do more and be more. I knew that college would provoke the person I had already built, but I found that to be an exciting venture. Navigating adulthood in college is one thing, but doing it abroad is another level. It’s enticing yet frightening. And when something scares you and excites you at the same time, it’s probably worth trying.
Despite what the title says, the “cons” of studying abroad are part of the entire experience. If you want the good, you’ll have to deal with the bad, too. And if you’ve studied abroad, you should know by now that the cons help you grow just as much as the pros do.
The cons are bothersome aspects that can be overlooked if you respond to them appropriately. Everyone’s list of disadvantages may be different. But here are a few things to consider:
You Are 100% Accountable for Your Actions
Being liberated and independent at a young age sounds like a lot of fun. You get to do whatever you want, whenever you want. But that also means you have to own up to your mistakes. Trust me, you will make a lot of them. Your friends can help you throughout the hard times, but no one is going to fix them for you. When you’re in a position where you call the shots, it can be terrifying. But every obstacle you face is an opportunity for growth.
Your Identity Will Be Questioned (a Lot)
As a foreigner, people will question your background. It can be quite overwhelming and sometimes borderline insulting. Instead of being defensive, you can educate the interrogator with formulated responses. Don’t stoop down to their level because most of the time, they are oblivious to the fact that they are offensive. You’ll receive common remarks such as, “Oh, you speak English very well!” to downright rude comments like “You guys live in huts, right?”
If you’re from a Third World country, many will assume that you are uncultured or primitive. Prove them wrong by simply being you because you’re neither.
Expenses Play a Big Role
Although you get to do whatever you want, budgeting your money is still a factor you cannot avoid. Studying abroad is expensive even with the help of scholarships. You have to take into account board and lodging, flights, supplies and leisure expenses.
Nothing says adulting like handling your finances. You’ll learn how to decipher between wants and needs much quicker. But one thing is for sure: your money will return, your time won’t. So make the most out of your experiences.
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Living in a foreign country gives you a leg up for employment in today’s globalized economy. It also provides human experiences that’ll inspire you to remain open-minded. When you’re open to everyone and everything around you, you’ll face irreplaceable, life-changing encounters. There are many advantages to living independently. These three are the most common:
You’ll Find Your Soul Tribe
From Hong Kong to the U.S., I’ve met so many personalities and experienced so many cultures. Interacting with people from all around the world gave me more insight into anthropology and how beautifully complex we are.
College is a time when strangers become friends and vice versa. People will come in and out of your life. Eventually, you’ll find the ones that understand you without the need for any explanation. Those are the ones who will stick with you when times get rough. The ones who don’t are just going to pass by you. Sometimes, they’ll leave a good mark. Other times, they will leave you with a lesson.
Immerse in Different Cultures
Being surrounded by a different environment inhabited by a diverse crowd introduces you to things you’ve never tried before. Embrace it, all of it. Try out the food, go to festivals, concerts and clubs. Attend gatherings you are invited to! You’ll come home feeling like you’ve explored a whole new world every single time.
Develop Your Character
Finding yourself isn’t just about constructing your adulthood. It’s also about who you are going to be every time what you’ve built gets knocked over. The days that define you aren’t your highest achievements but your rock bottoms. At a certain point, you will realize you can turn things around. Work on yourself until your weaknesses become your strengths and apply that determination in everything you do.
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As an independent, you’ll have to fend for yourself when things go south. Power doesn’t come from being strong all the time. Power comes from acting upon difficulties with strength despite fear. I’d be lying if I told you living abroad wasn’t tough. It can be, but once you come out to the other side, you’ll find that it isn’t so bad after all. It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.
A lot of students don’t want to take the hard route because it involves confronting fears. It doesn’t matter if you’re scared. If you want to do it, jump. After all, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward, right?
Words Marga Sibug
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver