Duke It Out: Study Abroad

study abroad intro

[It’s pretty obvious that the average CollegeCandy reader has some very strong opinions. Opinions that she likes to share with everyone on the site. We love a strong woman, so we thought we’d give her a real forum to discuss her thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Every Friday I’ll be featuring a hot topic (like the ever controversial jeggings!) and leaving it up to you, the readers, to duke it out. So, read it and get your debate on in the comments section below!]

The time has come once again to start picking classes for spring semester (really? didn’t we just do this?) and my mind turns to places that won’t be covered in grey slush¬†come January. Places with warm, sunny vistas and boys with sexy accents. In other words, places abroad.

The appeal, of course, of study abroad is distinctly held in the¬†“abroad” part. It’s a chance to go off and live somewhere exotic, and yet, have the safety net of a very specific purpose and time period (not to mention a built-in group of people who speak your language). With study abroad, you get the chance to soak up a new culture and really be a part of it, instead of the way you rush through on vacations. Plus, you can go to a place you’d never really be able to afford to live in and because of the school, you can make it work.

And even putting aside the sights, the food, and the boys with sexy accents, there is one other major perk of study abroad. Just like when you first moved off to college, you get a new start, a chance to reinvent yourself with people who probably didn’t see that time you made the walk of shame with your underwear hanging out of your purse.

But even things involving boys with sexy accents (did I mention that already?) have their downsides, and it’s true for study abroad too. Going off to another country is a much bigger move than most of us make for college, and it’s not just leaving behind those weekend trips home (and the way your mom lovingly folds your laundry when you visit) or all the memories your friends back on campus are making together. Without you. Just like moving to college the first time, you’ll be starting over, having to make new friends in a strange new place and this time you might not even speak the language. If you had freshman depression, this might not be a road you want to travel. And there is also an expense involved in doing some study abroad programs. Though most schools do their best to make it viable for all students, if you’re trying to put yourself through school, it just might be out of reach.

What do you think, ladies? Would you want to try your hand at school in a foreign country? Have you? Or do you think that going abroad might be a little more than you’re looking for from college? Duke. It. Out.



  1. Lily says:

    Studying abroad was hands-down the best thing I've ever done. You only get to be young like this once, and more so, the increased travel opportunities when you're abroad cannot be matched. What I mean is, if you study in Europe and live there for a semester, that one plane trip over, means that every weekend, you can take the train to a different country- something you'd otherwise have to take individual flights overseas to do. I lived in Paris, France for a semester and was able to visit an additional 10 countries while I was a student. So worth it.

  2. I skipped the chance unfortunately. But my brother is in Poland at the moment and he sure is enjoying it and visiting a lot of other cities. Erasmus really is a great program here in Europe.

  3. Emily says:

    If you have the opportunity DO IT, I lived in Florence, Italy for two and half months, I didn't speak any Italian and it wasn't usually a barrier. I made friends from Italy, Britain, Australia and Germany all of whom I still keep in touch with. It was hands down the most amazing thing I've ever done. I'm putting myself through school, and I found a way to pay for my entire trip through loans and scholarships. You will come back to the states feeling like you can do anything, which is a nice feeling to have as school starts to wind down and graduation approaches.

  4. snarktastic says:

    everyone needs to study abroad, and not just for the shallow reasons you guys espouse.

    it's fantastic to get out and see something new.

    it's great to make new friends.

    it's great to see how another country works.

    it's an awesome learning experience.

    "If you had freshman depression, this might not be a road you want to travel" –> that's ridiculous. sure it's hard, but you get so much out of it. if you're too much of a pansy to go abroad because you might be sad one day, then maybe you should just go back home to mommy and watch some f-ing reality show. it's not like your life is going anywhere, anyway.

  5. Amanda says:

    Go. Abroad. End of story.

  6. Irene says:

    I spent this passed 3 months studying abroad in San Francisco, CA, and i definitely love the city 'cause it's so different to my country (im from Venezuela), the city has so many things for you to do that i never got bored not even one day, so I encourage everyone who's thinking about studying abroad that it's a great experience and remember you're young only once so make sure you take the opportunities as they come on your way =)

  7. Sarah says:

    Studying abroad was the BEST thing I've ever done. I spent a year in England and my program gave us two months off to go backpacking – I saw 19 countries and met my now fiance. It was worth every penny. Now I'm graduating in the spring, getting married, and moving back to England for good. No one should be afraid to study abroad. I just wish I could do it again!

  8. Liz says:

    I'm just going to mirror what everyone else is saying- but seriously-

    studying abroad was the best experience of my life, hands down.

    If you're scared to go because you think you'll be alone- know that everyone else who's going is in the same boat so it's easy to make friends- just like how the start of college was.

    It's the perfect time of your life to take this chance- when you have very few responsibilities as compared to when you'll have a full time job.

    And I really REALLY recommend Barcelona (or anywhere in Spain for that matter.) IT'S SIIICKKK

  9. Jamie says:

    I agree with everyone who commented! I studied in Spain for 3 months and I wish I'd signed up for the year long program! It was the best part of my entire college career.

    Sarah: What program did you do? I'm currently looking for a year long program in England that isn't too expensive.. Was it for school (I've graduated)?

  10. Sarah says:

    Hi Jamie —

    The program that I did was for school, and it was through the University of Minnesota, Duluth. It was also extremely affordable compared to other programs in England – the total cost of EVERYTHING was $18,000. Since Duluth is such a small school, I'm positive they would let you in even if though you've graduated – they could probably work out a deal where you could live in the apartments with everyone but work part time instead maybe if that's what your looking for… They admit 50 students max every year but most of the time they don't meet the whole quota because the program is in Birmingham and not in London. Let me know if you want me to email you more info! :)

  11. Lauren says:

    I have to disagree. I studied abroad in France and I have to say it was not that great. I really enjoyed the travel opportunities but everyday life was not too great since our landlords had very strict rules for us including things like curfews, no guests, when we were allowed to shower, and seemingly impossible noise constraints (I was once told off for watching a movie VERY quietly). As I said the travel part was great but we had to pay for all the traveling ourselves and I could have done it for much less on my own.

  12. Kelly says:

    I studied in Dublin for a semester and absolutely loved it, although I couldn't take trains to other places I did take buses to different parts of Ireland and flew to the U.K. twice and Barcelona once. Definitely go abroad if you can, I had an amazing time and wish I could go back.

  13. Jamie says:

    Hey Sarah!

    Sorry just saw your reply :) I'd love to get more info, thanks!!

  14. I am absolutely, 100% sure that I'm going to study abroad! Ever since I found out that such a thing existed, it's never not been an option for me. Yes, there is homesickness involved, along with the feeling of being stranded on some desert island where people speak a different language, but it has to be worth it. For those who don't want to be on their own for long, there are much shorter trips than semester or year-long programs (I work at the study abroad office at my school, btw).

    I"m planning on going for a full semester to Spain, where I hope to live someday. I want the whole experience, homesickness and all.

  15. […] Duke It Out: Study Abroad [CollegeCandy] […]

  16. Katy says:

    I spent just over 3 months in Argentina before I started college as a volunteer, and I am FULLY planning on studying abroad for a full year now. It was always a "probably" in my mind before Argentina, but now it's non-negotiable. My time in Argentina was FANTASTIC. Let me clarify, however: every moment of every day was not awesome. I got homesick, tired of trying to express myself in a language I'd never formally studied, and stuck with a really shitty roommate. But even at its worst my time abroad was the best time. I can't wait to get to Spain next year!

  17. Dan says:

    Studying abroad is exactly what you make it. I’ve known people who learned the language, made friends from other countries, traveled around, experienced new cultures, and became much more well-rounded individuals. I’ve also known people who went over for the drinking age, stayed with people from their own country, and got less out of the culture than you’d get from a Lonely Planet book.

  18. Anita en Buenos Aire says:

    In a few days I am heading back to the US from Argentina. I have been studying here for about 5 months (two semesters) and let me say, it has been one of the best decisions I've made in all of my life. Not only did I enjoy studying in Buenos Aires, but I traveled all around Argentina (Patagonia, Mendoza, Tigre…) but I also went to Uruguay. I've met so many people from all over the world (from NY to Australia) and gained so many great experiences. The classes were awesome as well and I learned so much outside of the classroom even! My goal was to be fluent in Spanish by the time I left here, and even though I am far from it, I have made so many improvements. Studying abroad has definitely inspired me to explore more of the world an even of the US. You'll never know the people you meet, the YOU you get to know, and the countries you'd fall in love with! Let me me mention, that at first the adjustment was hard…I missed my family, I didn't know HOW to get around, and I thought I didn't belong…but in no way do I regret this experience at all. I eventually became more independent and discovered how strong and free spirited of a person I was on the inside. Do it! You'll love it, I promise! :D

  19. eelizg23 says:

    I studied abroad for 6 months in the south of France and absolutely adored it! That said, a close friend of mine went to England for a semester and had a very rough time–he was treated for depression brought on as a result of Seasonal Affective Disorder (England in the winter has a LOT less light than the sunny south we're accustomed to.) Yet, despite all that, he's still glad he went. It can really make you a better person to be on your own and away from home like that, experiencing different cultures.

  20. Darwin - New York Un says:

    Study abroad in Prague. Eastern European women. Cheap drinks. Cheap everything. Bars everyhwere. Clubs everywhere.

  21. K says:

    I am currently at the end of my abroad time in Rome. Best experience OF MY LIFE. and i cried the whole way to the airport because i really did not want to go…now I dont want to leave.

  22. Laura says:

    I just got back from New Zealand and I can honestly say that it was the best 5 months of my life. I met so many people from all over the world, traveled a lot, and it was just really cool to try and navigate a new part of the world. Yes, there were bad days, but the good ones out-weighed them. If you have the chance to study abroad, go for it!

  23. ladyluna says:

    ok so i'm going to be quick.. i didn't go on some study abroad program. it was actually a decision my family kind of made and i somehow agreed to it. i'd be leaving california and going to my family's home country, the philippines. i thought the hell, why not? get to know my roots, my family, the culture.. i had only visited there a couple times before and 4 years wouldnt be too long right? the first year was hell. i barely even went to school. second year was ok for some strange reason but since then i've been having bouts of severe depression and wanting to give up. but i'm still working on it and just wanting to graduate and get outta here. guess i can't handle it. i'm thinking studying abroad depends on the place your going and to and how much you really want to go. you've got to be mentally prepared for it, even though once you get there, it's never really what you expect.

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