Feeling trapped at home? Got the itch for some adventurin'? Concerned you've picked the wrong pathway?
Maybe it's time to consider studying abroad!
Your first few years of studying post secondary school can be just as much about finding your feet in the world and understanding yourself as it is about working towards completing a degree.
So why not explore your place in the world by experiencing it first hand?
Here's how studying abroad can help you:
Being away from home allows, nay, forces you, to step out of your comfort zone, leading you to explore and discover new things about yourself.
Often travelling can alter your whole perception of the world around you.
I don't know how it does this, but it does!
Want to know more?
Here are just ten of the billions of reasons why you should study abroad this year:
1. Become a local, not just a tourist
When studying abroad, you'll be surrounded by a new and different culture.
If you’ve travelled before, you’ll understand that this can be an eye-opening and life-changing experience.
Whether it’s enjoying a white Christmas in London, boogieing to some blues music in New Orleans or eating pork knuckle in a German bier halle, your eyes will be opened to a new way of living, one you may have never thought imaginable back home.
What's even more exciting, because you are living in the city you'll not only get a taste for a new culture but you'll be welcomed into it.
Living like a local can expose you to new passions, interests and/or creative pursuits. You never know, you may be the greatest musician never to play.
Speaking of great college musicians you've never heard of... check out Gabe Gladstein's music (and life at Harvard) below!
Experiencing college while surrounded by a new culture might even inspire you to change your college major!
2. Perspective of your place in the world.
As you soak up the experience of a new culture it can provide you a moment of solace to reflect on your own life back home and your place in the world.
While studying abroad is about more than just internal reflection, it can lead you to draw a number of new conclusions about yourself and the world you've lived in your whole life.
Maybe you'll reconsider your role as a global citizen, rethink what career you want to pursue beyond university or become inspired to start a social enterprise and save the world.
You never know, you could be the hero the world is begging for and without studying abroad, you would remain unaware of your global significance.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and save the world!
3. Become an independent citizen of the world who don’t need no man (or woman)
Studying abroad is a big life decision.
It's just you, stepping out into the world, becoming an adult. This may be life's first challenge for you, so it's time to grab it by the scruff of the neck and make your mark!
Travelling can help you gain confidence, independence, strength, determination and respect for yourself and the world around you. I don’t know how travel does this, but it does. It's almost magical.
The equation is rather simple: experience new cultures, push your boundaries and watch yourself grow.
Upon returning home (if you ever want to), you will find it easy to be yourself, take control of life and start kicking career goals!
4. Experience the perks of travelling as a student
Moving on to some more practical and less philosophical benefits of studying abroad.
If you’ve been brought up in New Zealand or Australia, you’ll know that we are geographically removed from a large portion of the world.
Travelling to other parts of the world can leave quite a dent in your hip-pocket. That is unless you're travelling as a student!
Seriously, being a student, you can save MILLIONS!
Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but you can save a heap of dough using your student status. Get access to discounted flights, meals, movies, museums, text-books and shows among a myriad of other savings.
This becomes extra handy if you're studying in a place like Europe or the UK which means you're super close to so many countries and cultures.
The money you save will mean you can afford quick weekend getaways to Paris to meet the perfect partner or a quick visit to Belgium for some fries and waffles.
The world is your oyster.
5. The food. Oh, God, yes, the food!
Oh boy, you’re gonna love it!
Getting the opportunity to (over)indulge in the food of other cultures is quite possibly the greatest bonus to studying abroad.
Seriously, who does not love indulging in new food? No, seriously, point them out to me and I’ll tell them why they’re wrong!
If you're studying in the US, colleges in America often have access to a city with a blend of many cultures and food trends that have given birth to some incredible delis, restaurants, bars, and street vendors, all of which can be attained on a student’s budget!
Not to mention the supremely greasy and delicious food offered by the Americans themselves. Fried chicken, American BBQ, juicy burgers .... oh boy, my mouth is watering!
Alternatively, if you’re studying in Europe, you can indulge in some of the oldest food traditions in the world: French delicacies, German bratwurst, Scottish Haggis, Hungarian goulash, the list goes on and on and on and on.
6. The Quality of Education
Much like the quality of food you'll experience, the quality of education overseas is second-to-none!
In the US, you have liberal arts colleges and the eight Ivy League universities and in the UK and Europe you have the Oxbridge schools and a myriad of other world-class universities to choose from.
What's more, completing a degree abroad, or even just spending a semester abroad, looks amazing on your CV.
With the current connectivity of the world and the expansion to a more globalised marketplace, businesses are looking for globally-minded students more than ever before.
By studying abroad, you will not just make memories and have some funny stories for when you get back home, but you will be exposed to many career opportunities upon graduation.
7. Make new lifelong friends
This goes without saying, but studying abroad is a great opportunity to make friends.
While studying in a new country does present the struggle of being separated from your home, it’s a great chance to bond with classmates, create a solid support network and build yourself a new home away from home.
Bonding with other international students can make this the greatest time of your life. You can travel, learn, and grow together, forming a connection that will outlast your time at university.
8. Become the social butterfly you've always wanted to be!
Hand in hand with making new friends abroad is attending campus social events, in the US, UK or anywhere else.
While settling in abroad can be hard, the easiest way to avoid any awkward moments and break the ice is to join campus groups and head out on the town with them.
For this very reason, universities will often offer you the opportunity to join any number of groups, clubs, sororities, fraternities or societies and we recommend joining as many groups as you can manage.
Not only will joining clubs beef up your CV, but it's a great way to make new friends and blossom into a beautiful social flower on campus. Additionally, university groups will often be throwing a weekly party or night out on the town for you to attend.
While these won’t necessarily be raging parties (though they can be), they are a great way to break your study routine and have some fun.
After all, studying abroad isn’t all about getting a world-class degree and finding yourself, and enjoying a one-in-a-lifetime experience.
You need to make sure, first and foremost, you’re having an unforgettable time.
9. There's increasingly common scholarship and financial aid for international students
Leaving home and studying does not have to drain your bank account! In fact, in some cases, studying abroad could actually be less expensive than studying at home! Yep, that's right.
Many colleges and education institutions around the world are making an effort to attract the best students, no matter their nationality, and are introducing international student specific scholarships and financial aid.
The details of scholarships often vary between location, schools and subjects and the best way to find out where you could gain an affordable education abroad is to speak to a qualified advisor.
10. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience
Unfortunately, all the cliches about only being young once are true.
While the opportunity to travel will always be there, the opportunity to study abroad may never be available to you again.
This may be your one chance to live and study in a different country.
Grab life with both hands and explore the world before you get bogged down in a full-time job and life’s impending adult responsibilities. Make new friends, experience the world, try new foods and get a world-class degree. Go on, make your move, life is awaiting.
What is it that the kids say? Oh yes, that's right. YOLO!
Now that you know the benefits, here's how to prepare:
Never left home before? Here's a starter pack of things to worry about before you jet off to your brand new life in a new country.
1. The weather
Brace yourselves, winter is coming!
The UK, for example, is known for its cold and rainy weather all year round with temperatures averaging about 18°C ... in summer.
In the US, it doesn't get much better. Boston, one of the most popular student cities, averages 24°C in Summer and a freezing -2°C in January!
Be sure to pack warm winter clothes; this means wooly coats, boots, scarves, gloves, beanies - the whole kit and kaboodle.
Definitely don’t forget your umbrella, because you may come across a rainy day or 100. The UK is your ideal university destination if you enjoy rainy days, sipping tea by the fire and snowball fights.
2. Work out a phone plan
The first thing you'll want to do when you land in your new home is post a selfie on Instagram, naturally.
But, wait! Hold off from using your data or making calls until you buy a new sim card. If you don’t, you will feel the vengeful wrath of data roaming and international phone charges.
There are heaps of mobile service providers in the UK, such as EE, Vodafone and Tesco; and in the US, Sprint and T-Mobile (these guys even offer unlimited plans).
Purchasing a sim card is easy and can be done at the airport, some train stations and most convenience stores. Just don’t forget to call your parents once you have your new sim ... after posting the selfie, of course.
3. Getting a roof over your head
For students, accommodation shouldn't present an issue as your university should have accommodation on campus for you.
However, be sure to reserve your accommodation early during the new academic season, as places can fill up quickly.
You may also like to find out how far the halls of residence are from the university campus so you can prepare for the stroll or bus ride every morning to class.
If you prefer to live off campus, which is an option, there are heaps of helpful websites for students to find places near their university.
It's simply a matter of finding an affordable place with some decent housemates who know how to do the dishes ... hmm maybe, that last one is a bit of a big ask.
4. Get yourself a job!
Students studying at bachelor-degree level or studying abroad in the UK, can work up to 20 hours per week. Recently passed immigrations rules define a ‘week’ as "a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday".
Be sure to check your visa sticker or Biometric Residence Permit, as it will specify if you’re allowed to work 10 or 20 hours a week. For more information about working hours click here.
If you're studying in the US of A, the government will let you work to your heart's content because it's the land of opportunity - and capitalism.
5. Understand the lingo
Upon arrival, you may find some of the colloquial uses within the English language confusing. So, to help you settle in, it’s time to learn some UK & US slang!
Here are a number of words you can subtly slip into your everyday vocabulary to woo your classmates, fit in with the locals and avoid any conversations getting lost in translation:
- Chuffed — (very pleased)
“I’m so chuffed about my new roommate. He actually does his dishes!”
- Knackered – (tired, exhausted)
“Blimey, I’m knackered after my 20 hour work week.”
- Scrummy – (tasty, delicious)
“Those fish and chips were scrummy.”
- Tosh – (rubbish, nonsense)
“This English weather is a load of tosh.”
- Hunky-Dory – (fine, going well... also the title of a classic David Bowie album)
“This semester is going hunky-dory.”
Bail - (leave abruptly)
"This party sucks, let's bail."
Cram - (study feverishly)
"I need to cram for this exam"
Monday morning quarterback - (To criticise something with the benefit of hindsight)
"Jess is such a Monday morning quarterback. How was I supposed to Tyler's party would be a suck-fest?"
Hype - (To get excited about something)
"I'm hyped for this new hot dog machine."
Jonesing - (to crave)
"I'm jonesing for one of those hot dogs from the new hot dog machine."
In a New York minute - (to do something very fast)
"I'll have you those notes in a New York minute"
Trashed - (to be very inebriated)
"You see Brodan last night? Dude was trashed"
Shoot the breeze - (To kill time with idle chit-chat)
"Yo. Wanna shoot the breeze while we wait?"
6. See the world!
In the UK, if you’re a full-time student you can apply for a ’16-25 rail car’, which can save you up to a third on travel costs throughout the country.
If you’re studying in London, you'll have access to London’s red double decker buses, and the world-famous London Tube. The Tube is London’s underground train system, which has 270 stations and 12 lines, allowing you to travel just about anywhere within Greater London. The Oyster card is the most cost effective way of using the underground.
Most universities also have local bus companies that offer student discounts and passes. If you're in London, bikes are also a great alternative with many benefits such as keeping fit, helping the environment and saving money.
In the US, public transport (PT) systems vary depending on what city you're studying in and you may need to do some research before jetting off.
One of the States' best PT systems is the New York subway, which is similar to London's tube network. The NYC subway is the largest rapid transport system in the world with 472 stations in operation and it runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
As for the the rest of the US, uhh ... Let's just say public transport isn't great. Try to make friends with someone who has a car. :)
7. Spend your money wisely
If you're moving to a new country to study, the living costs can begin to add up! You'll want to head out most nights and see the town, but this can burn a hole in your wallet!
There are many ways to keep your college costs down like working out food plans, working all costs into an excel sheet or signing up for an International Student Identity Card (ISIC).
Having an ISIC offers student discounts at retail shops, restaurants, museums and even on Apple products. With these great savings, there’s no excuse to be eating ramen, alone, in your bedroom every night (unless you're into that).
In the US, you can apply for financial aid to support your living costs. At the same time, the cost of living in the US can be quite cheap - unless you're in New York.
Most websites estimate you'll need about $US25k a year to live on campus, so roughly $480 a week. Basically, try not to go too big and you won't need too much extra pocket money.
Studying overseas will make your life unreal. You'll make memories and friends that will last a lifetime, and if you play your cards right, studying abroad can open up doors to a career you may never have thought possible.
The biggest issue you might face is that you may never want to come home.
Don't have too much fun, though, exams and assignments are coming.