Let’s be honest - the idea of studying abroad is as daunting as it is inspiring. The journey from first considering studying abroad to stepping foot on a university campus on the other side of the world may seem long and full of hurdles, but good planning and a positive mindset can go a long way to making your dreams a reality. It’s scary, sure, but it’s also totally achievable. Here are some fears and myths about studying abroad that may be holding you back:
Myth #1. Studying abroad is too expensive.
Studying anywhere is probably going to be a costly venture to some degree, regardless of if you’re studying around the corner from your house or on the opposite side of the planet. The good thing is that the study abroad experience is only growing in popularity, and more and more opportunities for financial support are becoming available. Many universities now offer scholarships specifically for international students wanting to come to their school to study. It’s all just a matter of locating and applying for them. As a first port of call, get in touch with the international department of the university you want to study at to enquire about the scholarships they may offer. Download our guide for a list of hundreds of scholarships for international students..
Myth #2. Studying abroad is just one big party holiday.
For some, studying abroad is just an excuse to get away from home and have a vacation. But it can be so much more than that. It can be a way to become more independent, a chance to immerse yourself in new cultures and languages, an opportunity to broaden your knowledge and gain international perspectives - it is what you make of it. The perfect study abroad experience will be a healthy balance between fun and learning, being social and being studious. If you arrive back home from your time abroad having found that balance, you can be satisfied knowing you had the perfect study abroad experience.
Myth #3. Employers don’t care that I studied abroad.
With the globalization of the modern world, any international experience whatsoever is only going to be a benefit when applying for jobs and pursuing your career; it’s certainly not going to negatively impact your employment opportunities in any way. Listing on your CV that you've spent time abroad shows employers that you can take risks, are independent and can work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Read more about how studying abroad prepares you for a career.
Myth #4. Making friends while studying abroad will be too hard.
For some people, making friends while studying abroad won’t be an issue at all. But for the rest of us who have trouble just walking up to a stranger and introduce ourselves, it can be an incredibly daunting task. Luckily, most universities will host an array of programs and events specifically aimed at connecting international students from all around the world who are in the same boat. Before you know it, you’ll be making weekend plans with your new acquaintances and your worries of spending the semester alone in a foreign country will be quickly forgotten! Here are some more tips on making friends while studying abroad.
Myth #5. I need to learn the language while studying abroad.
Chances are that you're contemplating studying a course taught in English when you go abroad, so in most cases, it isn't essential for you to learn the native language of the country (assuming it isn't English). Most foreign universities put a lot of focus on recruiting international students so English-taught programs are becoming more and more commonplace. Having said that, even knowledge of some basic phrases in the native language of that country will offer you a much more authentic study abroad experience, meaning you can immerse yourself deeper into the culture and interact more confidently with the locals. But in most cases, it's not a necessity.
Myth #6. Why study abroad when I can just travel?
More like "why travel when you can study abroad?"! Not only does studying abroad give you the opportunity to travel and see the world, it also allows you to study (funnily enough) and obtain a degree, or at least part of one. Your connection to a foreign university may even make it easier for you to meet locals, immerse yourself in the culture and make friends to go travelling with on the weekends. Studying abroad really is the best of both worlds!
Myth #7. Studying abroad is dangerous.
In reality, some countries will be safer than others, but overall, safety shouldn't be a major concern when deciding whether or not to study abroad. Most universities will have established processes in place to help international students settle in and feel safe, whether that is helping you find accommodation, advising you on the safest public transport options or connecting you with fellow students so you have friends to travel around with. Any good university will be able to give you all the information you need to make sure that your time abroad is safe, secure and fun! We recommend doing your research on the country or city you're travelling to so you can learn as much as you can about the people and culture, any known safety concerns and put plans in place to limit risks and put your mind at ease.
Myth #8. I can’t study my major abroad.
Regardless of the type of degree or subject of study you are interested in, there should be plenty of study abroad opportunities in countries throughout the world - it's just a matter of finding them! It may turn out that some countries offer higher quality education in certain subject areas than others, so do your research. Check out our catalogue of study abroad programs to see what opportunities are available. If you're intending to do just part of your degree overseas (e.g. a semester or one year of a three year Bachelor degree), chat with your university at home to see what kind of study abroad programs can be cross-credited to your qualification - there’d be nothing worse than returning from a year abroad only to find out that half of what you’d done wasn’t eligible for cross-crediting!
Myth #9. Studying abroad will just delay my graduation.
If you've done your research and planned your overseas studies well, your time abroad doesn't have to add any additional time to your degree. Courses taken at a foreign university should be able to be cross-credited easily into your existing qualification, meaning you will graduate at the same time as you would have originally. If your time abroad is going to add more semesters to your degree, perhaps you're considering the wrong types of courses and should look into other options that allow you to cross-credit more effectively. Talk with your university and the overseas school to see what the best plan of action is.
Myth #10. But what about everything I’ll miss out on back home?
It’s true - life will continue without you while you’re away studying overseas. Of course, your friends and family are going to miss you like crazy, just as much as you’ll miss them. But try to keep in mind that you’re only going away for a short time (in the big scheme of things), and thanks to modern technology (e.g. Whatsapp, Facebook or FaceTime), it’s never been easier to keep in contact with your loved ones over long distance. Make a plan with them for how you're going to talk regularly (perhaps schedule a weekly Skype date?); reassure them (and yourself) that you will stay in touch and, if you're feeling homesick, they are just a quick phone call away. Here are some more helpful tips on staying in touch with friends and family while studying abroad.