Many university study abroad programs used to encourage students to study abroad during their junior year. This wisdom was based on the idea that most students would be well-established in their degree field, but would still have time upon return to take any additional requirements and still graduate within four years. But the value of international education has outstripped traditional ideas of academic security, and more and more students are looking for ways to earn their degrees abroad. Still many students imagine that studying abroad multiple times or long-term is completely out of reach for the average student. Luckily, governments around the world realize the value of international students and campuses around the world are ready and waiting for students from abroad. So why wait? Grab your passport and read on to find out why you should earn your degree abroad!
1. It's not expensive
Only 10% of American students study abroad, and one of the major deterrents is the perceived costs of international study. And even those students who realize the value of a study abroad experience often believe that their funds will only cover a short-term semester or year program. But the truth is that studying abroad doesn't have to be expensive, and in some cases completing your degree abroad could be more affordable than staying domestic. Of course, there will always be countries, universities, and programs that can break the bank but if you choose wisely, you can study in one or more locations overseas without wracking up a ton of student debt. If you want to maintain a domestic presence, start by considering tuition-exchange programs. Your school's study abroad office can help you identify programs where your tuition (and sometimes room and board) will be the same as your home institution. And you're not limited to a single tuition-exchange experience, so can study psychology in the Netherlands, round off your Spanish minor in Peru, and complete your honors project in Indonesia without paying more for tuition than you would at home.
But what if you want to earn your entire degree abroad? Again, it doesn't have to be expensive. There are many countries around the world where tuition is low or free for international students, and while living costs can vary from country to country if you do your research a degree abroad could cost a fraction of a four-year program at home. Universities in Germany and Norway are tuition-free, even for overseas students, and in Brazil, Slovenia, and France students at public universities pay only nominal fees. Some countries, like Poland, make it easy for international students to pay tuition fees gradually while others allow international students to pay the same low fees as domestic students.
2. You'll learn languages
One of the biggest benefits of spending as much time abroad as possible will be the chance to learn new languages. It goes without saying that the longer you spend immersed in a language, the more likely you are to learn and retain your new knowledge. And the great news is, you don't have to learn the language before you go! International students are a major resource for universities around the world, and you'll find English-language programs in almost every country. Finland and Sweden both offer numerous courses in English, which means you can study sociology, or computer programming, or music by day, and practice your Scandinavian language skills after class. And while campus-hopping may seem counter-intuitive for language acquisition, for some students it's the ideal way to perfect and diversify their language skills. For instance, students who study Spanish (currently the second most -spoken language in the world) can benefit from nomadic studies. Like English, Spanish varies according to country and region, so three semesters in Spain, followed by a year in Mexico, topped off with semesters in Argentina, Chile, and Honduras will give a Spanish-language student broad exposure to the variances of the language.
3. You're not alone
Of course, planning to study abroad long-term or in multiple locations can seem daunting, and it doesn't matter if it's tuition-exchange or tuition-free, if you can't figure out the logistics you'll never get your feet off the ground. But don't worry. Study abroad is a priority in many countries, and there are many resources out there for students who want to complete degrees abroad or campus-hop their way to a diploma. There are scholarships, like the Fulbright and Gilman programs, that work to send students abroad. The Erasmus+ Program focuses on student mobility in Europe and abroad. In the US, government organizations like Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs want more American students to study abroad. If you're enrolled in a university, visit your school's study abroad office to find out more about initiatives for study abroad, or find directly here the program that's right for you.
4. Technology can help
You shouldn't be surprised to find out that modern technology is making nomadic study more of a reality. Between online courses, internet search engines, virtual campus tours, and electronic application portals, higher education has gone digital. And this means that studying abroad is easier than ever and doesn't need to hold to outdated traditions. In fact, there are now universities where the majority of the students spend most of their time abroad. This is a good thing. Educators have long been aware of the benefits of international study, and most students who study abroad realize that they learn much more than just degree requirements while abroad. Education has become global, so pack your bags and start learning!
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