If you're considering studying abroad, you'll certainly have trawled through all the information you can get your hands on, taking in all the benefits of such an exciting venture. However, there's probably a voice in your head detailing all the ways it could go wrong.
Going abroad is a big decision to make, but don't let those worries stop you. Below are some of the most common reasons given for not taking the opportunity, and the reasons why you should ignore them and take the plunge.
I Can't Speak the Language
Living in a foreign country means you'll immerse yourself in the language, which is best way of learning it. You'll pick up the basics out of necessity, such as buying a bus ticket or ordering your lunch. You'll be amazed just how quickly you pick it up. If you're still worried about learning a foreign language, there are plenty of English-speaking countries you can travel to, such as Australia, South Africa or Malta. In some non-English-speaking countries, you can even take courses in English.
I'll Miss My Family and Friends
This is a real concern for most people and is understandable. With modern technology, though, your family is never far away. You can Skype with your parents, send messages to friends using Facebook, and even start a blog to detail your travels. If you do get homesick, though, there'll be plenty of staff in your study abroad programme who will have seen it all before, and be happy to help you through it.
I'm Afraid of Travelling
This can be the trickiest problem to resolve. You can feel as though you'll be stuck abroad, not knowing anybody and feeling like you don't belong anywhere. It's OK to be afraid, but the best option is to bite the bullet and do it anyway. The benefits of your travel will far outweigh your fears, and soon you won't remember why you were afraid in the first place.
I Can't Commit to Studying Abroad
It can be hard to imagine spending a long time away from home if you have other commitments. For older students or students with families of their own, it can seem almost impossible. However, there are ways around this. If you can't be away from home for long, there are options such as spring break trips or summer programmes. Hunt around and see if there's a short-term program that's good for you.
It Won't Help My Future Career
It's true travel may not directly influence your chosen career, but it can help you get a job. Studying abroad shows your future employers you're adaptable, open to new experiences, and not afraid of taking risks. In an increasingly global working environment, you're likely to have to travel for work in the future, so it's great to get the experience now while you're still studying.
I Don't Want to Miss Out
If you're living abroad, there may be things you'll miss out on, perhaps a school event or a loved one's birthday. It's easy to develop FOMO — fear of missing out — when considering travelling, but remember nothing you miss from home will be more valuable than the experiences you're gaining while you're away.
I Can't Afford It
This is a legitimate concern, but there are a variety of ways of funding your trip. Your study abroad office will have lots of information about scholarships and grants you may be able to apply for. You can also pick a place with a favourable exchange rate or one with a lower cost of living, such as Prague. In addition to funding, you can start saving up ahead of time by using coupons or shopping through cash-back and reward sites.
I Won't Know Anybody There
No one wants to be the new kid. As an adult, you thought you'd put those days behind you. Living abroad will push you out of your comfort zone, and it's up to you to make the most of it. Join your school's clubs, volunteer with a charity, and get to know your classmates. Soon you'll have made lots of new friends and have piles of stories to share when you come home.
Studying abroad is taking a huge leap into the unknown, but the benefits are immeasurable and invaluable. You'll gain lots of experience, friends and maybe even learn a new language. Plus, future employers will be impressed with your experience and go-getting attitude. No matter who you are or what you're studying, there's probably a study abroad programme for you.