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Enlighten Me - Study Abroad

TQfromtheUTQfromtheU Registered User Posts: 542 Member
It's probably to late for child #1, but for my other two, please explain to me what is up with the "study abroad" discussions? Is this common to study abroad? Difficult to arrange? Outrageously expensive? Why are students doing it, other than for the fun of travel and possible interesting conversation post graduation?
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Replies to: Enlighten Me - Study Abroad

  • TQfromtheUTQfromtheU Registered User Posts: 542 Member
    (I hope this doesn't sound like a rant. I really want to know so I can look into it for my children.)
  • happy1happy1 Registered User Posts: 15,600 Senior Member
    Students go abroad for a host of different reasons including (but not limited to: : having a chance to experience life in a different culture, to provide addition depth to their education, to have travel opportunities, and to improve foreign language skills etc.

    Your child should go to the study abroad office in his/her school to get information 1) on the programs at his/her school and 2) any additional associated costs with such programs.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 12,165 Senior Member
    My daughter is on study abroad this semester and it is cheaper than if she were on campus. There are extra expenses like insurance and travel, but she also got extra grants for it.

    Some do it because they are studying a specific language or architecture or culture, but most do it just for a different learning experience, the chance to travel, the chance to meet other students from other countries and schools. I have a few friends who did it because they needed a break from their small colleges or even from their families.
  • melvin123melvin123 Registered User Posts: 113 Junior Member
    I think how much you get out of it can be very program specific. Eons ago I studied abroad in Austria, attending the same classes as the Austrians. It was invaluable for improving my German. I'm convinced it helped me get into my law school program, and it always seemed to impress people on job interviews. I've met other kids though who were on programs that were really lame, and I thought they would have been better off just going abroad during the summer to travel on their own.
  • apresskiapresski Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    It depends on the program... I think studying abroad can be very usual for some students (ex. Marine Biology majors going to Australia to study the GBR, language majors going to a country in their area of study, MedRen or English majors going to Oxbridge) but for many it's essentially a semester or year of constant partying and travel.

    I did a direct transfer for a year into a German university for a year (German was one of my majors) and found it incredibly challenging but useful taking classes with native speakers. However, I knew some other foreign students for a short time (most from the UK/Australians/other Americans) and they took some very easy classes in English (nothing in German beyond intro language courses) and spent most of their time partying. It really does just depend on the program.
  • stradmomstradmom Registered User Posts: 4,566 Senior Member
    Sometimes Study Abroad involves minimal effort in classes and maximum effort in travel/fun etc. But even that can end up being educational in the long run.

    D2 studied abroad in England, which isn't a radically different culture, but she solidified a love of British literature that eventually led her to a master's degree and publications in that subject. She also made the effort to join student groups like orchestra where she met locals rather than spending time with Americans. Her roommate spent the same semester in Paris, polished up her French, and soaked up French culture. The two of them met up for weekend trips around Europe, which ultimately made both of them older, wiser, and more cautious (a good thing in many ways).

  • inthegardeninthegarden Registered User Posts: 514 Member
    edited March 17
    I think that spending time in a different culture, when possible, is just part and parcel of becoming a deeper, more complex and ...yes...better educated person. While I know that getting a job and starting a career are necessities, and college should prepare for that, I'm still idealistic enough to believe in education for education's sake...not only for job training.
  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,546 Senior Member
    For some people, study abroad is a way to learn or improve their ability in a foreign language. When she was an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin my (future) wife spent her junior year abroad in France, in a program organized by the University of Michigan at Aix-en-Provence. Such an extended immersion program can really help to produce bilingual facility.

    My son, as a student at Univ of Chicago, spent a year abroad in England -- and he learned, um, English, but more importantly he became more "intercultural," more confident in his ability to interact with and move around independently in a different society, different pubs (ooops -- yes, true!). This was also a jumping off places for travels to other countries including Ireland, France, Holland, Germany, and Italy. (We joined him over the Christmas-New Years period, to visit London, Paris, and Rome.) Our daughter participated in a summer arts program in Italy. Again, she learned how to operate independently in a different culture.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 1,159 Senior Member
    Some reasons that I can think of:

    - Get a different and broader view of the world. This is related to living in a different culture, which can be subtle or not depending upon where you go. I am also thinking that "meet people from other parts of the world" is not quite the same as "see a different view of the world", but both are valuable.

    - Cost. Depending upon where you go, this can vary greatly in either direction, or not at all.

    - Live in a beautiful community that you like (also available in the US, of course).

    - Better language options. It is much easier to learn a language when surrounded by people who speak it.

    - For students going abroad for a full 4 years: Apply to universities where you will be accepted based on your grades, references, and (optionally) SAT, without having to put up with any other "stuff". This would seem to be most useful for students with exceptional grades, SATs, and references, without any other advantage (eg: limited ECs and limited athletic skills). This may in some cases allow going to an academically stronger school, or open up additional options (such as a school good in a particular field).

    We have some experience with foreign exchange in high school that worked out very well. Meeting and knowing people from other cultures has been a huge positive experience. My daughter's second language has improved significantly (to near fluency). The extra cost was only the cost of the airplane ticket.

    One comment above talked about the study abroad being academically easier. This can be the case in some situations, but the opposite is just as likely to be true. The top universities abroad might not be ranked quite as high as Harvard or Stanford in international rankings, but once you get past the top 3 in the world the foreign schools start to show up.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 27,563 Senior Member
    OP, likely your kids' college will have a study abroad office. One of my kids really wanted to study abroad. so we usually stopped by that office when visiting campuses. Most colleges also have a part of their website devoted to study abroad.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 2,486 Senior Member
    Costs can vary a lot. For instance, at the university my older son attended, Oxford tuition costs were the same as any international student (about $32K). At the school my younger son attends, it is the same as in-state tuition (appx $15K). Living expenses and travel costs are additional. In addition, any financial aid that the student receives can be applied to overseas costs and tuition.
  • blprofblprof Registered User Posts: 724 Member
    As I write this I am visiting my daughter in Copenhagen, which is where she is studying this semester. I would loudly echo all of the benefits listed above by other posters, and would emphasize that even while my daughter is enjoying the fun travel aspects, she is learning to navigate (literally and figuratively!) many other cultures and is building important life skills. It makes me proud to see her figure out a train schedule, deal with language barriers, expose herself to different ways of doing things, and meet new people. I wish I had been able to have this experience, and am grateful that I can allow her to do this.

    BTW, Copenhagen is an absolutely delightful city and I would highly recommend it for study abroad or a visit!
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