Study Abroad May Not Be One-Size-Fits-All


The streets of Great Britain, taken during the British Studies Program 2014 by Kelley Joe Brumfield.

The streets of Great Britain, taken during the British Studies Program 2014 by Kelley Joe Brumfield.

Emma Reeves – Printz Reporter
Benefits of studying elsewhere go beyond just education

A recent USA Today article written by Michigan State University senior Amanda Chodnicki listed three reasons why studying abroad is not a “must” in college. Chodnicki said she felt there were many other opportunities that were just as beneficial, but she also admitted she had never studied abroad. How, then, can she give an accurate analysis of its benefits?

This past summer I participated in the British Studies Program, and it has been a defining moment in my life.  I understand that some people cannot study abroad for various reasons, so I do not want to say an education is wasted without the experience in that sense it is not a “must.” What I do want to say, though, is that studying abroad changes the student’s life in a way nothing else at any other time can, so it “must” be experienced if it is possible.

First of all, pragmatically speaking, traveling as a student is far cheaper than traveling on your own later in life. As a student, you are eligible for discounts that radically cut down on costs. Some things are even free for students. The programs offered by universities are often far more economical than if an individual tried to purchase the same provisions. If you want to go or feel travel would benefit you, as a student is the cheapest time to do so.

Second, other experiences—internships, volunteer work, jobs—cannot change the way you view the rest of the world as drastically as studying abroad can because these things do not immerse you in another culture. When you suddenly become the outsider, you are forced to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Moreover, studying abroad is key to letting all your studies come alive. The class you take while abroad is a fantastic discovery in that this class allows you to experience an education beyond your own institution in order to have more developed and well-rounded instruction. You gain insight you never could have had otherwise, be it from your instructor or what you see and do. This insight never leaves you.

Finally, the reason why I needed to study abroad was something I never could have known until after I did it. When I was in London, I could revel in everything around me.  I could blend into the bustle of the city or gaze into the quiet of the heath. I could literally climb the highest peak, only to be amazed by the world around me in a romantic state not unlike that of Thoreau. When I studied abroad I found freedom I had never before known, and in that freedom, I found myself.

Other experiences are good. But studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become more than books and a resumé. It is an opportunity to find adventure while gaining inspiration that will affect the rest of your life in how you see yourself, your studies and your world. And isn’t that what college is all about?

Karyn Lewis – Printz Reporter
Staying in the States is just as valuable to education

Although study abroad adventures are great icebreakers and may impress potential employers, they aren’t mandatory during your college career.

Teachers and administrators repeatedly drill how important and life changing it is to study abroad. Yes, traveling with a group may be more effective than traveling alone because you’re likely to learn more and earning class credits while exploring a new culture seems like a steal, but studying abroad can be expensive and everyone can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on a month of travels.

Administrators make it clear that studying abroad is possible whether you have the cash or not, but many students aren’t willing to add another 10 grand onto their already swelling student debt. With discount travel companies such as Groupon and STA Travel, traveling is becoming affordable for everyone, so traveling with a class isn’t the only option.

It’s almost like professors try to pressure you into studying abroad. There are so many study abroad informationals happening one after the other during spring semester and deadlines are usually the week before spring break. It’s like they’re asking for money from students when they know we’re our happiest.

I’m not in any way trying to turn you against studying abroad. Just make sure that it’s what you truly want. Don’t worry about how it will look to a potential employer or how studying in a different country may make you more valuable than other job candidates. Going to college alone doesn’t guarantee you a job, so neither will traveling. 

Interning can open just as many opportunities as studying abroad will, if not more. Having a successful internship could even guarantee you a position with that company. Do as many internships as you can. The more people you meet within your field, the better.

College is all about networking. Sure, you will meet people and have opportunities for networking while abroad, but it’s better to spend time with a particular company that you are interested in working for.

If you are just in the mood to travel, you don’t have to leave the country. The United States is a beautiful country and is rich in culture. Just think about how different Georgia is from Florida and they’re right next to each other! Spend your vacations indulging in the melting pot that is America.

Traveling should be something you do as a chance to learn more about yourself. If you feel that doing so abroad with your school or organization will be more beneficial to you, then do so. There’s no time like the present to do what we want and no one knows what tomorrow will bring, but not traveling before the end of your college career does not make you a failure.

You have your entire life to live. You don’t have to fit all of your adventures into four years.