Common Excuses to Not Go Abroad and Why You Should Bypass Them

So you want to study abroad but you think it’s not for you. You love the idea but you keep finding reasons not do it. Studying abroad is something everyone should experience during their college years. Imagine fulfilling core or elective requirements in another country, it doesn’t get better than that! Not to mention you will learn more about different cultures, you’ll try new foods, and you will make new friendships. It’s probably not hard to convince someone to go abroad, but even the most eager students often times find themselves hesitating to take the next step. In this blog post I’ve included several reasons why I think students choose not to study abroad and I’ve uncracked the myths so you can understand your options better. Hopefully after reading this you’ll submit your application and close the tab that’s been sitting in your browser for weeks!

  • Too expensive
    • When most students think of studying abroad they think of laid back mornings on the terrasse with a sip of coffee and hearty dishes of the countries specialities. However, many students are often discouraged when they see fees adding up and quickly decide that studying abroad just isn’t for them because they can’t afford it. I felt the same way when I was looking into studying abroad. Coming from a high financial need family I knew that it would be up to me to find the funding for my study abroad experience. The good news is that there are many options for financial funding that can help offset the costs!
    • Scholarships
      • If you haven’t been told before, I am telling you now; apply to as many scholarships as possible. Scholarships usually range in award size of $500-$28,000 and are normally either merit or financial need based. Sure, no one really enjoys writing essays and filling out applications but doing so could easily help offset a fraction of your costs! Rutgers Study Abroad offers a department scholarship that is included in the program application so you will automatically be considered once submitted. Many scholarship options can be found under the Rutgers Study Abroad website that range from other Rutgers scholarships to national scholarships. Yes, it may be a few hours of your life but you could end up being rewarded free money that will help your dream come true!
  • It delays graduation
    • Another main reason that students choose to not pursue studying abroad is because they are convinced that by doing so they will fall behind in their course requirements and ultimately graduate late. T his is especially true for students with credit intensive majors such as STEM or student athletes. A great way for students to still experience study abroad without getting off track is to do a short session program during Winter or Summer break. From biology in the Galapagos Islands, to Global Health in India students can experience other cultures when they would normally be back home with nothing to do over break, and receive credit for it too! There are also new programs being added all the time like Sports History and Culture in UK and Spain designed for athlete students to work around game and practice schedules so keep your eye out for new opportunities. Another option is to delay taking core requirement courses before studying abroad so you can try to fulfill these in another country. These are typically the more flexible courses to complete abroad which can help prevent falling behind. Just remember, with any course questions be sure to contact your academic advisor so they can guide you on the right steps to take.
  • Homesickness
    • Yeah, it’s true that many Rutgers students have already experienced moving away from home to live on campus but it doesn’t compare to leaving the country entirely to a place where they may not speak English and the culture is completely different. This can be very scary and intimidating for any person but rest assured that the Rutgers Study Abroad department is here to make sure the transition is smooth and that you are safe! Just know that studying abroad is temporary so even if you miss your family or your favorite foods you’ll be back home before you know it.  It’s important to go push yourself out of your comfort zone because you will grow as a person and learn important skills that can be applied to future jobs*. The world does not stop at the US borders, there is an entire world out there with so many countries and cultures just waiting to be discovered. If you can live in another country, you will learn to be more open-minded and daring – skills that will stay with you for life!
  • You don’t speak the language
    • So you want to study in Italy but your Italian skills are as advanced as knowing the names of several pastas and grazie! That’s okay because Rutgers University offers many study abroad programs that do not require proficiency in the host country language to partake. Some examples include John Cabot University  in Italy, Ewha University in South Korea, and University of Konstanz in Germany . Not to mention that many foreigners know the basics of English so you should be able to survive if you don’t know the language. With that being said, I can’t stress the importance of learning and practicing the language when abroad because what better place than in the actual country! Go to Barnes & Noble, pick up and Italian dictionary and start learning some phrases. You’ll not only impress yourself but you’ll also flatter locals.
  • The application process is too tricky and long
    • No one likes paperwork. No one likes chasing professors down for recommendation letters or course equivalency forms but at the end of the day all the work you’re doing will be rewarded because you’ll get to go abroad! Rutgers Study Abroad has made the application process very straightforward and accessible and all the info can be found on the study abroad website. There are checklists to keep you on track and if you are missing any forms someone from the office will follow up to remind you, this way you won’t feel overwhelmed trying to remember all the materials you need. If you have any questions about your application you can attend walk-in advising hours to meet with a peer advisor Monday-Friday 12pm-3pm or you can schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor. Just as a reminder, deadline for Summer and Fall programs is March 1st and deadline for Winter and Spring programs is October 1st. That being said, you can start your application as early as you want!

At the end of the day studying abroad can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have. Regardless of your fear, try to find comfort in knowing there are solutions. Speaking to study abroad alumni and advisors can also help put your mind at ease.

You won’t regret it!

-Natalie

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