Should you study abroad?

3:10 PM

Traveling always seems like a fantastic idea. Exploring different places and cultures is life-changing. But when we do so, it is difficult to grasp the real lifestyle of other countries when we spend there 1 or 2 weeks as a tourist. Studying abroad is often the solution for people like me, who want to truly experience what is it like to live and get used to a whole new city, people, food and customs while getting a degree. As students, we have so many benefits in terms of mobility. We are young and free. I couldn’t see myself growing roots in a place at such a young age. I couldn’t see myself getting a career job at 20-something years old. What if a best life was out there and I didn’t get to it because of fear and comfort?

If you’ve followed this blog, you know by now the deepest reason why I decided to study abroad. Probably the thought of studying abroad has also crossed your mind but you’re not sure whether you should do it or not.

During nearly 3 months on this journey, I’ve identified the mindset needed and things to acknowledge to make the most out of this experience:

  1. Be humble – have respect towards the country you’ll be living in and its people. You’re the foreigner, you’re the one who must get used to the way things are done there. You can’t have the “we do this better” attitude. Arrogance won’t lead you anywhere. It will only make your stay miserable and reduce your chance of growing.
  2. Keep an open mind and be tolerant – these should be obvious. University is a place where you work with people who see things a different way. Group work is often the norm and if you don’t have the disposition of opening your mind, accepting other cultures and points of view, then an abroad experience isn’t for you.
  3. Be serious about it and work hard – it would be very foolish to invest money on paperwork, study permits, tuition, rent, food, transport, and airfare only to focus on partying 24/7. There’s a time and a place for everything and I promise that you can have fun without neglecting your studies. Once you enroll in your program, there’s no coming back. Understand that it is a serious decision and not a weekend plan that you can drop off in the last minute. 
  4. Be patient – oh, patience, the virtue that we all should have but never actually work on. That, until you move out and discover that the world won’t do as you please, that you have no control over most things. You’ll need to have patience if you don’t want to lose your mind. 
  5. Learn to live with others – unless you’re super rich and can afford an apartment only for yourself, chances are you’ll share a dorm with someone else. A person you don’t know. It will be inevitable to give up on some privacy. There will be habits you won’t like and frankly just won’t understand. But it’s part of it. The whole experience will make you more tolerant, but you must be willing to it. 
  6. Be emotionally independent – when you make the decision of studying abroad, it is a reality that you’ll most likely be apart from the people you love. You must learn how to deal with it. Your happiness and stability can’t depend completely on others. I won’t lie, it is not easy but the more attached we are to things and people, the less we allow ourselves to grow. Relationships are super important, but it’s just as important as learning how to be comfortable just with ourselves.

So are you up to this? Are you ready? Then start (or continue) saving money, evaluate your options and jump in. You won’t regret it.

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