Top 10 Reasons Everyone Should Study Abroad While in College
Hey hey, it’s me your friendly Rutgers peer, the Broad from Abroad, who had an incredible time spending my Junior year Fall semester in Florence, Italy! If you’re reading this then you have probably already studied abroad and are looking for validation for your choice or are strongly considering doing study abroad which you absolutely should be. I am sure all your friends have come back from their time abroad and will not stop talking about how incredible their time was in London, Barcelona, Sydney or wherever they were. But then when you ask them to elaborate on their time, all they can offer is, “you just have to go experience it for yourself!” While I agree with your well-intentioned friends, allow me to fill in the gap of why they had such a life-changing experience while abroad. Here are the Top 10 Reasons Everyone Should Study Abroad While in College!
10. To Develop that Hobby and Passion You’ve Never had Time to Explore Maybe you have always wanted to pick up painting, teach yourself how to code or read all those fun books you never get around to- this is your time! With no campus commitments, no job obligations, and no family begging you to run errands, you can really take this semester to be all about your personal development. You will have more free time than you know what to do with while abroad so in addition to exploring your city, take advantage of this opportunity and do what you always wanted to do!
9. To Meet Amazing People In all likeliness at this point in your Rutgers career, you probably have your core friend group, your student orgs and your people that you see day in and day out- and I am sure that you love them all to death. Trust me when I say that they will all be here when you come back and in the meantime there is no better way to build some incredible new relationships than to study abroad. Not only will you meet students from all over America who have very different backgrounds than you, you can build friendships with international students who will truly open your eyes to how other people in the world live. If you do a homestay, aka live with a family in their house, then you will have a unique understanding of that country’s home life, and a free place to stay whenever you come back to visit!
8. Take the Classes You Can’t Take Back at Rutgers Studying abroad will allow you to gain credits toward your major and core requirements, so by no means is this a semester off from school. But this is also your chance to take classes not offered at Rutgers that are more unique to where you are studying. While in Florence, I was able to take a ceramics class, which I can’t take back here at Rutgers because I am not in Mason Gross School of the Arts. I was in a Florence Art Walks course where every week we spent two hours walking around Florence and learning about it’s architecture, obviously a class I would not be able to take anywhere else but it counted towards my Arts and Humanities requirement. In typical Italian fashion, my food science class (yup, it counted as a Natural Science) included a trip to the local market, cooking classes and visiting a supermarket. These are all just a few examples of how to maximize your academic time while abroad- just remember your GPA always transfers back!
7. To Save Money Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to break the bank to study abroad. We offer 30 different semester study abroad programs which give you Rutgers credits for less than Rutgers in-state tuition (https://global.rutgers.edu/access). While you pay the program’s tuition price, which could already be less than what you are paying now, all of your Rutgers financial aid and scholarships will still apply towards any semester program. In addition to the program being cheaper and your financial aid being applied, there are also tons of scholarships offered through our office, through Rutgers departments and nationally that can even further lower your term bill. I saved my parents over $6,000 by studying abroad and they were nice enough to give me half of that to travel around Europe. Believe me when I say you can save money by studying abroad and have the time of your life- it’s all about knowing how to play the game!
6. To Learn a New Language The best way to learn a language is to fully immerse yourself in it and the best way to immerse yourself in a language is to study abroad in a country that speaks the language you want to learn. We offer a ton of programs that will enable you to take classes in another language so if you are trying to complete a Spanish minor, or learn a bit of Mandarin, studying abroad can be a great way to do that effectively. In addition to learning the language in class you will have the opportunity to try your hand with a host family, local friends or the cute bartender in your favorite bar. And if that isn’t motivation to learn a language well and fast, then I don’t know what is!
5. To Become Really Comfortable On Your Own Often cited as the top reason to study abroad, becoming truly comfortable with your independence is still in many ways the hidden gem of the study abroad experience. It’s rarely the reason you are choosing to study abroad, but face it, your time navigating a whole new country on your own, and potentially doing so in a new language, will be the best character-building of your collegiate career. While you will make so many new friends, you can also take this time to explore cities on your own, take long train rides and just start building a sense of who you are outside of your identities tied to friends and family back home. Who knows, maybe your home friends will be a fan of this new independent you, too!
4. To Eat Amazing Food Whether you’re a food connoisseur or go to restaurants you find on the ol’ gram, your dining experience abroad will not disappoint. There is no need to break the bank (https://rutgersglobal.home.blog/2019/04/09/budget-abroad/) but you should definitely take advantage of the local cuisine, go to markets and bargain with locals over fresh produce. Sure Easton Ave has some variety in international foods, but if you ask anyone who has gone abroad they will tell you nothing compares to the real thing. Bon appetit!
3. To Appreciate What You Have Back Home The old adage of you don’t know what you have until it’s gone rings true and quite frankly you’re probably sick and tired of the Rutgers buses, Brower food and getting RUscrewed. And while you’ll have an incredible time studying abroad, your time away will also give you a deep appreciation of not only your life as a Rutgers student on campus but also as someone living in America. So go have the time of your life and then come back to the states as a more appreciative and well-rounded person!
2. To Immerse Yourself in Another Culture A significant percentage of Rutgers students have not only always lived in the states, but have always lived in New Jersey- here is your safe way to go explore! Not only should you live and take courses amongst locals if possible, but take advantage of any opportunities your program offers to fully immerse yourself in the local culture. I spent my time in Florence going to weekly dinners with my Italian adoptive families, going to the opera and wearing the neutral colors Europeans are so fond of. If you truly give the experience a fair chance by letting go of your American mentality, I promise that you will be rewarded immensely in knowledge gained and global perspectives. Live in the moment, say yes as much as possible and you’ll start feeling like a local soon enough.
1. To Make a Lifetime of Memories The number one reason to study abroad is…bragging rights!! In all seriousness though, the memories and stories that form from your time living abroad will stay with you for a lifetime. I tell people all the time about sneaking into Paris fashion week, visiting thermal baths in Budapest and our epic search for the hidden bakery that would sell one euro pastries at 4 am in the morning. This reason alone should be more than enough to compel you to study abroad, and don’t forget to find a way to document your time while gone. Some people share their memories through Instagram, a personal blog or a website, others tend to keep memories to themselves by journaling or taking photos just to hold on to every moment. I did a 1-second-a-day video with a 1-second clip from every single day I was abroad. Those are the truly priceless momentos, even more than the model Eiffel towers. You don’t have to take my word for it though, go sign up to study abroad and let the memory-making commence!
– Broad from Abroad