Alison Burton and friend jumping. Spain- Parthenon, Spring 09, API
10 reasons why you should study in a foreign country:
(Or how to convince your parents to let you go…)
Not sure of studying abroad is worth your time? If you talk to people who have studied abroad, you will most certainly hear them tell you that it was well worth every hoop and obstacle to get abroad and, in fact, many will tell you they are doing everything they can to find a way to get back abroad soon as possible.
Study Abroad is without a doubt a live-changing experience and one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Perhaps you're not certain what benefits you can reap from an extended stay in a foreign country. Here are 10 reasons why you should take the plunge:
1. Expand employment opportunities: Did you know that only 4% of U.S. undergraduates ever study abroad? Yet, the world continues to become more globalized, as American companies are increasingly investing dollars abroad, and companies from other countries continue to invest in the international market, including in the U.S. Through an employer's eyes, a student who has studied abroad appears to be self-motivated, independent, willing to embrace challenges, and able to cope with diverse people and problems. Your experiences of living and studying in a foreign country, negotiating another culture, and acquiring another language will all set you apart from the majority of other job applicants.
2. Enhance value of your degree: While abroad, you can take courses you would never have had the opportunity to take at the University of Louisville. In addition, study abroad gives your language skills such a boost. Many students find that they can add a minor in a language or even a second major without having to take many more additional courses after they return to UofL.
3. Immersion: There is no more effective way to learn a language than to be immersed in a culture where everybody speaks it. Speaking the language you are learning, seeing and hearing it in the proper cultural context, and surrounding yourself on a daily basis with the culture will help you to quickly become well-versed in your target language.
4. Acculturation: Cultural differences are more than just differences in language, food, appearances, and personal habits. Culture reflects very deep perceptions, beliefs, and values that influence a person’s way of life and the way he or she views the world. When you experience cultural differences, you come to truly understand where other cultures are coming from.
5. Expand your Worldview: In comparison with citizens of most other countries, Americans tend to be uninformed about the world beyond their nation's boundaries and current global ‘hot-spots.’ Students, who study abroad, return home with a greater appreciation of America’s relationship with other cultures and peoples.
6. First-hand experiences: Study abroad will help you develop skills and give you experiences a classroom setting will never provide. Being immersed in an entirely new cultural setting can be scary at first, but it's also exciting. It's an opportunity to discover new strengths and abilities, conquer new challenges, and solve new problems. You will encounter situations that are wholly unfamiliar to you, but you will learn to adapt and respond in effective ways.
7. Break out of your routine: Study abroad is very different from what you are used to doing as a student at the U of L. You will become familiar with an entirely new academic system and ways of teaching and learning. You will have the chance to take new courses. Studying abroad is also a great opportunity to break out the monotony of the routine you follow semester after semester here.
8. Travel: Weekends and academic breaks allow you to venture out and explore your new surroundings - both immediate and more distant ones. Studying abroad often puts you on a completely different continent, and you’ll have the opportunity to see places you might otherwise be able to visit. Some study abroad programs even have field trips planned in or around the curriculum.
9. Friends: While abroad, you will meet not only natives to the culture in which you are studying, but also other international students who are as far from home as yourself. It is an opportunity to make lasting friendships around the world.
10. Get to know yourself: Students who study abroad return home with new ideas and perspectives about themselves and their own culture. Experiences abroad often challenge you to reconsider your own beliefs and values. These experiences may strengthen those values you already possess, or may encourage you to embrace new concepts and perceptions. The encounter with other cultures enables you to see your own culture through new eyes.
If you're still wondering if study abroad is a good idea for you or you need help convincing your parents… then read the U.S. Senate Resolution "Year of studying abroad Resolution" citing 13 reasons why it is imperative for more Americans to study abroad.
How do I choose a program?
There are several ways to choose a program: study abroad fair, meeting with an advisor, talking with people that have studied abroad, use a search engine, or learn about opportunities from one of your professors. Here are some questions to help you narrow your choices.
In general, you should try to start this process early in the semester before the period you plan travel. Once you have picked your program or programs, feel free to contact us and make an appointment to start the study abroad process.
The goal in selecting a study abroad program is to find the best match between your personal objectives and the various programs the University of Louisville has to offer.
To begin, ask yourself the following:
- What do I hope to gain from my study abroad experience?
- What is my comfort level ? How comfortable am I with different ideas of food, housing, beliefs?
- How independent am I? Do I prefer to be alone or with a group?
- Do I need to a program related to my major, or can I choose one whose courses apply primarily as electives?
- How long do I want to be gone? Would I prefer a short-term international experience or a longer period abroad?
- Do I want to master a language, experiment with a new language, or enroll in an English-only program?
- Am I interested in an internship which directly relates to my career goals?
- Do I want to live with a host family, or with host country students, other Americans, or independently? Do I want to live in a dorm or an apartment?
- How much can I afford to spend on an overseas program?
- Is there one country or city that I would most like to learn about?
- Am I academically eligible for the programs I want? (Most require a minimum 2.5 GPA; some require a 3.0 or higher.)
Need more help deciding?
- Talk to your academic advisor about your interest in studying abroad. Take time to review your degree plan so that you can determine the best time for study abroad and the kind of courses you might take.
- Explore your options by coming to the International Center to pick up the “Study Abroad 101 at the U of L” brochure and any program brochures that interest you.
- Attend the Study Abroad Fair at the Red Barn in October and January of each year.
- Talk to your parents about your study abroad interests. Explain how a study abroad program will fit your academic and personal goals. Discuss any financial concerns with them.
- Make an appointment with the Study Abroad advisor to discuss programs that interest you and work with your academic needs.
- Make an appointment with a Financial Aid advisor to discuss your program costs and financial aid applicability.
- Talk to other students who have studied abroad and international students from those countries you are considering.
- Narrow down your choices to one or two with help of your academic advisor, parents, and the Study Abroad advisor.
How to Compare Program Costs
On each website there is information concerning program costs and what is included in that cost. Carefully examine these. Some programs may seem cheap because very little is actually included in the ‘program’ cost. But, there are usually many other costs to consider. The Program cost usually covers tuition but does it also cover…
- Room? (Is it included or must you find your own apartment?)
- Homestay? (including how many meals?)
- Meals? (How many per week? Is lunch included? What about weekends?)
- Airfare? (One way? Round trip?)
- Local transportation? (Bus or subway passes?)
- Suggestions for personal expenses?
- International Student ID Card (ISIC)?
Other costs related to studying abroad may include:
- Passport ($95-125)
- Visa (Varies by country.) Check with your country’s embassy to see
- Passport photos (Available Walgreens , Kinkos, etc.)
- Costs listed above that are not included in your program's fees…Books and supplies, Lab fees?
- Personal travel