Are you considering studying or interning abroad, but have some concerns about whether you should or even can do so? You’re not alone! Over the years, we have heard from students that their worries about the five “Fs” have kept them from pursuing incredible international opportunities, and we’re here to help reassure you that YOU CAN DO IT!
F #1: FINANCES
“I could never afford to study abroad, even though I really wish I could.” Time and time again we have heard this common misconception about studying abroad from students. This belief has prevented countless students from even considering international educational experiences when they really shouldn’t have…
The truth of the matter is that in many cases, API’s programs are actually far more affordable than the average cost of a semester at a U.S. university. Also, remember that programs include a lot more than classes and tuition – so you get a lot of bang for your buck! This, coupled with the fact that API awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships each year AND most students can use their financial aid to help cover the cost of study abroad, makes it a financially viable option and a wise investment in the future.
In addition, creating and sticking to a budget while you’re abroad is an easy way to minimize expenses, while still having the experience of a lifetime. We have compiled a list of financial tips to help you prepare for your time abroad, which could be applied to your life at home, too!
F #2: FALLING BEHIND
This is part two in our five-week series discussing the top five concerns about studying abroad: Finances, Falling Behind, Fit, Fear, and Friends and Family.
Another common objection to studying abroad is the perception that doing so will delay graduation, thereby requiring even more money to complete a degree. However, the data disagrees. In fact, according to research completed by the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the University of Texas at Austin, four-year graduation rates are actually higher among the population of students who study abroad compared to their peers who remained on campus (Inside Higher Ed). Likewise, the University System of Georgia recently released findings that “the evidence shows that [education abroad] will accelerate time to graduation relative to peers who don’t study abroad: (“Students Who Study Abroad Graduate Faster Than Peers”, Inside Higher Ed).
Staying on track for an on-time graduation is easy, especially if you plan early! Meet with your academic advisor, the study abroad office, and anyone else on campus who can help you map out a plan to build studying abroad into your schedule.
Consider timing! Remember – there are also abundant programs that run during the summer, as well as Maymester and January-Term sessions, which will allow you to have that international experience without being away from campus during the fall or spring terms.
Explore virtual options! Consider participating in a virtual global experience! API offers virtual internships with international organizations, which allow you to enhance your resume, grow your global network, refine valuable skills, and further your professional development – all from the comfort of your home. You can also explore API’s virtual Community Engagement and Innovation Labs; these unique programs allow you to engage with people from across the globe as you create solutions to pressing issues that impact the world around you. These virtual opportunities can be completed concurrently while you’re on campus at your home university! Additionally, students can earn microcredentials – or digital badges – for the skills they learn, enhancing their LinkedIn profiles and setting apart their resume from peers.
F #3: FIT (ACADEMIC AND OTHERWISE)
This is part three in our five-week series discussing the top five concerns about studying abroad: Finances, Falling Behind, Fit, Fear, and Friends and Family.
Are you overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of options available to you? Are you worried that you’ll never be able to pick the program that is right for YOU? The good news is that BECAUSE there are so many choices available, the odds are extremely high that a program exists that checks all your boxes!
In addition to identifying options based on your major and your degree requirements (which your academic advisor and study abroad office can help you do), you can refine your search by a multitude of filters. If you don’t know WHERE and/or WHEN you want to go, then you can narrow down your options by searching for programs that meet other qualifications.
Consider the following questions!
- Do you want to study abroad or complete an internship?
- Do you speak any language other than English? If so, do you want to take classes conducted in that language, or would you be more comfortable learning in English?
- What are your professional goals? What kind of program would help you develop skills for your future related to these goals? (E.g. an internship in a specific field? Focus on language development? Field based research? Strong academic reputation of the host institution? Major specific programming? Volunteer/service learning opportunities?)
- Do you prefer a big city or a small town?
- Would you like to be close to the mountains? To the beach?
- Would you rather go somewhere vastly different than your hometown, or would you prefer to find a place that is similar to your own?
- Are you athletic? Are you artistic? Are you the type of person who wants to be outdoors all the time? Are you looking for socially tolerant locations? Do you want to have easy access to the live music scene?
While it may seem overwhelming to choose from the extensive list of programs available to you, you CAN narrow down your choices and you CAN pick a program that meets your needs, your goals, and your interests! The world is your oyster!
Celebrate this incredible opportunity to explore your options and enjoy the process! You just may learn something about yourself along the way, which can help bring you more clarity about your goals.
Stay tuned for the next edition in this series!
F #4: FEAR (OF THE UNKNOWN, AND OF MISSING OUT)
This is part four in our five-week series discussing the top five concerns about studying abroad: Finances, Falling Behind, Fit, Fear, and Friends and Family.
We get it. It’s completely normal to be afraid of the unknown. We also know that fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. We have been there.
However, it has often been said that “fear is temporary, regret is forever.” Countless students have said that the one thing they regret NOT doing while at college was studying abroad; we’d be hard-pressed to find a study abroad alum who said they regretted missing out on life at home while they were away, exploring the world and gaining global experience.
Consider this: you will likely be on campus for at least 3 years, and that’s if you go abroad for an entire year. That gives you three years of chances to spend time with your friends, doing what you do on your campus. Three years of sporting events, sorority or fraternity activities, performances, roommate nights, or whatever else it is that you so enjoy about your university life. You also have the rest of your life to spend with your U.S. friends and your family… but very likely just one opportunity to live abroad for weeks or months, exploring new places and seeing sights you have only dreamed of or read about.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Without study abroad, I would have never realized what I am capable of. Anyone who has doubts about studying abroad should listen to the part that keeps pushing them to say yes. Don’t let your doubts hold you back and let you miss out on what life has to offer. Take a chance because you can do it, and you will be so glad you did.”
~Jocelyn N., API Seville student
Stay tuned for the next edition in this series!
F #5: FRIENDS AND FAMILY
This is our final installment in our series discussing the top five concerns about studying abroad: Finances, Falling Behind, Fit, Fear, and Friends and Family.
This fear manifests in two ways: 1) Fear of missing friends and family while abroad; and 2) Not having the support of friends and family to embark on this adventure.
One of the greatest joys in life is spending time with our loved ones – with our friends and family. That goes without saying, and there is absolute validity in worrying about how you’ll manage in a different country without your support system. However, if you’re like most students who have studied abroad, you’ll find that this is an amazing opportunity to make NEW lifelong friends, many of whom will become like family to you. There are few things that create such a strong bond as experiencing things for the first time – together.
“It was so worthwhile and the best thing I ever did. I met so many people and made lifelong friends.”
~Chloe S., API London student
We live in a time when connecting with people across the world is as easy as logging into social media, texting, or even Facetiming – for little to no cost. It is EASY to stay in touch with your family and friends back home.
If your friends or family are less than supportive of your ambitions to study abroad, it can be disheartening. Don’t let their concerns discourage you from taking the chance of a lifetime to pursue your dreams!
If your family has concerns about the value of an international experience, consider this: study abroad is truly an investment in your future! According to research conducted by the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact (Farrugia and Sanger) involving interviews with more than 4,500 study abroad alumni:
- Study abroad has an overall positive impact on the development of a wide range of 21st-century job skills.
- The skills gained through study abroad have a long-term impact on career progression and promotion.
“Those more advanced in their careers more consistently linked study abroad to career growth and reported being hired or promoted based on their international experiences. This finding held true across all majors and industries.”
It is only natural for parents/guardians to worry about their children. We understand! Reassure them that there are safety protocols in place to help you be as safe as possible while you’re abroad. Remind them that you are only a phone call away and that you are able to take advantage of this opportunity BECAUSE of the foundation they laid while you were at home. Encourage them to visit you, make a video call schedule, or plan to send regular videos about your experiences. They can live vicariously through you! And tell them that you understand their concerns come from a place of love.
To quote the parent of a former study abroad participant, “As a parent, it was a delight to see my daughter flourish; it is only in letting go that our children become who they were meant to be.”