Disadvantages of Studying Abroad
Guest post by Marie M.
Yes, studying abroad has many advantages, but also for some, there might be some disadvantages of studying abroad and you should be aware of them! Studying abroad is not always easy, but it is overcoming those challenges and solving those problems, that will have the biggest impact on you, give you confidence, and make you stronger.
It would have been too simple: you go to a foreign country and everything is wonderful, people are nice, your home is beautiful etc. Studying abroad is not (always) so nice. You might have to face one or even more problems while living abroad and see some of the disadvantages of studying abroad.
This guest post by my friend Marie, who is studying abroad here with me in San Diego, and she shares that Study Abroad is not all rainbows and roses for everybody. While for me it was, I also want to share the other side of the story. Not for everybody, study abroad is the time of their lives. But Marie and I also want to share some ideas how to change the disadvantages of studying abroad and maybe help you to turn it around and have a wonderful time abroad.
#1 Disadvantage of studying abroad: You are not a genius
Reality is hard, I know. Studying in another country does not mean you will learn English or other languages magically. I remember the father of one of my friends: he was British and used to live in France for 3 years. But he could not speak French because he never tried to learn it. Of course, living abroad will help you to understand the language better, but if you do not talk, you will not improve. That is why you need to pay attention and study, but because you are immersed in the foreign language, learning a foreign language will be much easier and faster.
What to do: Sit down and learn the language
But even if you go to a country, where you speak the language already, you can have some difficulties due to local dialect. Read how Amy (from the US) dealt with the language barrier when she studied abroad in Scotland.
#2 Disadvantage of studying abroad: You are alone
Our society is more and more connected and thanks to Skype, WhatsApp and Social Media you can stay in touch a bit easier with your family and friends. That does still not mean it is any easier to study abroad in a foreign country halfway around the world. Studying abroad is hard because everything is new and you don’t have your familiar safety net of friends and family. Especially in the beginning, you might feel sad and homesick. This is completely normal, but there are some tips against homesickness that will help you to get out of the funk and make the most of your time abroad.
Experiencing culture shock is also normal. Give yourself a break and allow for an ‘adjustment period’. But it is also important to not close up and hide. Make it a point to create new habits, explore your new surroundings, and meet new people for example. Sometimes, it will be hard. Sometimes, you might feel excluded in your new country and it can be difficult, as you don’t have the social network yet that can give you support and strength.
What to do: Go out and meet people, explore your new country and don’t feel sorry for yourself. You should also consider staying with a host family during your study abroad time.
#3 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Reality can be disappointing
When you first get to a new country, you might feel a bit of disappointment. Maybe you had this dream about how your glamorous life in Paris, and when you get there, you discover that your dream destination is not living up to your expectation. Prepare yourself for a culture shock, when you study abroad.
Differences can be huge if you move from Europe to Asia or smaller between France and Belgium. Standard of living can be different: there are more poor people in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe or you cannot expect the same way of life in India than in the United States. You will have to face a different culture, other behaviors, and some can make you feel uncomfortable if you are not used to them: in the United State people are very outgoing and strike up a conversation with strangers on the bus, whereas in Europe, talking to a stranger you will probably get you an angry look or might even scare people away.
Everyone knows that Chinese people are different from Americans, Americans are different from Germans, some differences are obvious while others are more subtle. Lets that cultural obstacle. Moreover, the food is different, you might have difficulties to find your old comfort food while you are abroad. Food is an important part of a countries culture so if the culture is different, the food will be too. Culture shock can be a real disadvantage for your study abroad experience.
What to do: Learn about the local culture, traditions, and food. Try new dishes and participate in local events. Who knows if you’ll ever have the chance to participate in an American Thanksgiving or a Chinese New Year again after your study abroad semester ends?
#4 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Nothing is free
Another big disadvantage of studying abroad can be the costs. Studying abroad can be expensive. The cost of studying abroad will depend on your major, the university and the country or city you choose. Keep in mind that many countries do not allow a foreign student to work, so you need to have enough money before your study abroad semester/year or have someone from home supporting you. Ask yourself if you can afford to study abroad.
Airfare can make a pretty big expense, so check out Skyscanner for cheap airfare deals.
What to do: Chose a cheaper country or city, reduce your living standards or follow these 20 tips to Study Abroad and save.
#5 Disadvantage of studying abroad: One year lost?
For students, the credits earned abroad might not count towards your degree. This means your study time might increase, costs will go up and you might be longer depending on your parents. These are major disadvantages of studying abroad. Before you leave and join the next study abroad program, you have to considerate this: are you ok that your degree might take longer than you anticipated?
What to do: Make sure that your study abroad credits count towards your degree program or try to make up by taking summer classes etc.
# 6 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Reverse Culture Shock
When you are going to study abroad you only think about the time you are going to spend abroad. But you forgot that one day you will have to come back to your home country. It can be as hard to live in another country as to come back to your own. This feeling is called reverse culture shock. You will change during your time abroad and return as a different person (hopefully). But so do the places and people back home. Time won’t stay still, just because you are not there and you’ll sometimes feel excluded in your old group of friends or feel unfamiliar in your own hometown.
What to do: Accept that things change and use the things you learned from being abroad to see your home with a different perspective!
#7 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Your Mom will nag you
Don’t laugh! You know as well as me that moms can be really, well, intruding at times. So she will nag you: you will receive e-mails with hundreds of question and if you do not answer as fast as she wants, retaliation could be horrible. She will create her own Facebook account with the aim to know everything you don’t want to share with her. Each time you will be on Skype, she will call you. So I tell you one thing before you go: You will need to establish rules for your study abroad time. Or you will come home from the Pub and have 30 exponentially more frantic voice messages from your dear mother, and if you don’t hurry up and call her back right away, the police will storm your room and disturb your slumber.
What to do: Set rules and try to calm your mom’s nerves. Send her text messages and keep her informed, when you go somewhere out of the ordinary. Remember that you are her babe and she only does that, because she loves you <3
What do you think? Is Marie right? I think she is, to a degree. Nothing is perfect and depending on your situation, studying abroad might not be the best idea for you. Maybe an internship abroad or working as an Au Pair is a better option. But I also think that there are many, many advantages of studying abroad for most of us. If you study abroad and you encounter a problem, put your problem-solving-hat on and get to work. Try to see it from the locals’ perspective and respect their culture and traditions.
Why you should study abroad anyways
Even though there are some disadvantages of studying abroad, I feel that that the advantages of studying abroad far outweigh them. I have studied abroad as a High School student, during my Bachelor’s degree and even completed my Master’s degree abroad. Yes, at times it was hard, but because I faced those challenges, I grew as a person. When I first came to San Diego, I didn’t know anybody. Everything I accomplished, I did on my own and this is something that gave me a lot of confidence. It showed me that I can achieve my goals when I set my head to it. It also showed me that the success of living abroad is a mindset. If something is not going as you want, take charge and change it.
Advantages of Studying Abroad
If you read through this article about the disadvantages of studying abroad and got a bit overwhelmed with all the things that could go wrong, whether you should take the plunge and study abroad or not, check out this book: The Global Student is the perfect book to show you that that living abroad is a great way to spark your career and see how many advantages living and studying abroad really has.
This article was first published on April 21, 2010 and has since been updated.
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The chance of exploring foreign culture and meeting a lot of people by studying abroad is exciting. But like coins, everything has two faces and studying locally doesn’t mean that you will not get the same quality of education, as well as memorable experience and fun friends as those who are studying abroad.
Here we have listed out five benefits of studying domestically.
- More Affordable Tuition Fee and Living Cost
For a lot of people, especially those whose household income is enough for everyday needs, this could always be the main concern for them when it comes to the decision making regarding studies. Apart from the staggeringly high tuition, you must also take in account the living costs as well.
According to universitymalaysia.net, a Malaysian student who wants to major in Art and Business, has to spend an average of USD 22,000 (tuition) and USD 13,000 (living cost) per year to study in USA private institutions. Meanwhile, studying in Malaysian private institutions only costs USD 4,600 (tuition) and USD 4,000 (living cost) per year.
At this point, you might get freaked out by the currency and how much money you have to invest into your higher education. Hence, if you are concerning with the “b-bling, b-bling” and “Cha-ching, cha-ching”, studying domestically may relieve you a bit.
The advantage of the proximity to your hometown can always keep the homesickness away from you. Studying locally can mean you’re studying in a different state away from family, but there’s always easy travel options and tickets locally is cheaper so it’ easier to go home. Imagine if you’re studying abroad and you suddenly get homesick, there really isn’t much you can do other than crying in front of your tablet while Skyping with your family. So if you can’t stand with being apart with your family for thousand miles, studying locally will serve as an alternative choice for you.
- Familiar Surrounding
If you’d rather stick to the culture you’ve been immersed in since the day you’re born, studying domestically is always a right option for you. Yea, it’s true that you still need to adapt to a new environment, especially for those who have to travel to other states or cities for study. However, comparing to those who study in foreign countries, it won’t really take you too long to get used to the new environment. And you know what, you don’t have to encounter culture shock as those who are studying abroad do.
- Familiar Language
If you are not that keen on learning foreign languages, or only prefer studying under the environment where people around you speak only the lingo you know and understand, then you will find studying locally beneficial for you. Ordering food, communicating with friends and lecturers, enrolling in a course and such will definitely be easy and familiar.
- Personal health
Last but not least, this can be a major concern for some people whenever they are thinking about going aboard. Don’t get us wrong, we are not saying that they’re gonna expose to various types of horrible influenza and danger in other countries, the main point here is about those with underlying illnesses like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as anaemia specifically, might not be allowed to take flight, according to the site patient.info. Hence, it’s might not be for them to study abroad.