The opportunity to study abroad is one that happens to only a very lucky few and one that is as a result justifiably valued. Even with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the aphorism every rose has its thorn remains true. Here are the pros and cons of studying abroad that will hopefully give a clearer picture of what the experience is like beyond the opportunity to travel to a new place and learn at the same time.
Pros of studying abroad
Opportunity to travel
One of the major pros of studying abroad has to be the opportunity to travel to a new country, interact with new people and experience different cultures. It’s an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, face new challenges and expand your horizons. You may get an opportunity to try out new foods, try new activities, learn a new language and expand your experiences.
Independence and freedom
There’s no better way to assert your independence than to actually cross the arbitrary borders demarcating different countries’ territories. Studying abroad gives you an opportunity to live your own especially for people who lived at home for most of their years of study.
You learn to depend on yourself, make your own decisions and be responsible for your life, in as much as one can be responsible for their life. There’s something very freeing about living on your own in a new place far from everyone who knows you. You don’t realize how much your behaviour is constrained by the presence of people who know you. There’s a measure of freedom to be whoever you want to be and discover more about yourself.
Make new friends
An obvious advantage of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Friends potentially from many different countries and communities with diverse backgrounds which would have been impossible or difficult in your home country. Even after you return to your home country, you will have these valuable connections around the world.
Looks good on your resume
Because of the real and perceived view that studying abroad avails better learning opportunities, the experience will make your CV look good. People will also view you as a more interesting person, a better-skilled person because of this experience which can be beneficial for your career.
Cons of studying abroad
Intense homesickness and loneliness
Being away from your family and friends can be tough. Your family will miss you and you will occasionally miss them with an intensity that is staggering. You will miss many special events although this isn’t as painful in the age of social media and live streaming. Even with new friends, you can get really lonely. Studying abroad can be especially difficult for people with anxiety who may worry excessively about their families and their well-being.
Unless you are either fortunate to be the progeny of a wealthy parent or fortunate to have secured a scholarship, studying abroad can be prohibitively expensive. Otherwise, it can be extremely stressful financially especially if you have to study and work at the same time.
May be stressful
Figuring out everything on your own even with support from your campus or scholarship foundation can be stressful. Preparing for the experience including packing is likely to be stressful. This is because of the difficulty of knowing exactly what you will need while studying abroad.
Adapting to a new set of cultural norms can be challenging. Cultural barriers including language differences can be frustrating and exacerbate the feeling of being an outsider. After adjusting to your new life and the country’s norms, once you go back home, you may experience what is referred to as reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock refers to the feelings of unhappiness after coming back from your adventure studying abroad because you miss it.