Adventures Abroad

Travelling Abroad

I’m contemplating going abroad, but I’m a little nervous about committing. I think it would be a good experience and all of that, but it seems like a lot of planning and stress, and I’m nervous about dealing with the responsibilities and dangers of life in a foreign country. I also think I might miss my friends on campus. I just keep imagining myself losing my luggage and my passport and being miserable all semester long while missing out on important things back here (family time, classes for my major)... and some unimportant ones too (parties!). Experts, can you provide some insights?

It’s good that you’re considering studying abroad. And while the decision is yours and yours alone to make, you should remember that a chance to study abroad isn’t something that comes up frequently. You have the opportunity to do something a little scary but potentially very rewarding.

You’re right that studying abroad will take some responsibility on your part. But many students embrace this aspect of the experience. In fact, 95% of surveyed students who studied abroad said the experience made them more mature. You’ll need to be careful, of course: foreign countries have dangers just like our own does, and studies show that too many students compound these dangers by taking more risks when abroad. But your program will have safety tips to help you make good decisions.

You’ll want to prepare a little bit, of course, and take precautions. You certainly should try not to lose your luggage and your passport! But smart travel preparations will help you. Frequent travelers suggest setting your luggage apart from the crowd with distinctive bag tags, ribbons, luggage straps, or other add-ons that might help a confused fellow traveler realize that your bag isn’t theirs. Keep your passport as secure as possible (zippered pockets or a special secure pouch under your clothes, for instance), and know what to do if you do lose it (head for the embassy). But you’ll have help: colleges and universities tell us they have tons of resources for students who are headed abroad, and your school is surely no exception.

Will you miss out on some things back home? Sure, that’s unavoidable. But you should consider what you’re missing if you stay here, too. Don’t forget to ask your friends--you may find that some of the people you’re afraid to go without are already headed abroad themselves, and you may find that your next great get-together could happen in a foreign country!

Studying abroad isn’t for everyone. But it’s also an opportunity that not everyone gets. About 10% of college graduates have studied abroad, but only 40% of Americans earn college degrees, and even fewer than that go to four-year colleges that give them the chance to study abroad. You should know that you’re more than capable of going abroad and having a good experience. If you think it’s for you, then go for it!

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” -- G.K. Chesterton

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