Me with my three other close friends in Arles, France.
Three years ago today I was packing up to go on the adventure of a lifetime. I never imagined myself spending 4 months in Cannes, France. I also never imagined getting to walk on the red carpet for a movie premiere- that was epic. Along the way I met some amazing friends, and one so happens to live in NYC. Every once in a while I get emails from other students still in college that are interested in studying abroad with the same program that I did- AIFS. A while back I told AIFS that anyone could get into contact with me to ask questions about the program, which happens frequently. I usually send them over to the blog that I kept, Do the Cannes, Cannes, Cannes, to hopefully answer any questions they have. Unfortunately though, I’ve never posted a pros/cons list of studying abroad since they usually ask me about those things. Wanna know the pros and cons of studying abroad? Well, here they are:
The Pros and Cons of Study Abroad
There’s this cliché that’s said, “studying abroad will change your life”- well, it will. I almost decided not to study abroad to follow other endeavors. But realizing I had a French minor and not the best at speaking, I needed to actually go to France. With anything you do in life, there will be the pros and cons. This isn’t to discourage anyone, but these are just the facts. I can only speak for myself and a few others with these pros and cons.
Pros: There are usually three types of living arrangements: student apartment, host family, and a dorm at the college. With a student apartment you have the place to yourself and possibly another roommate and a place to cook your own food. Host families can be awesome because hey, you get home cooked meals every day. With the dorms you get to easily meet people in your program and typically the college will provide breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.
Cons: In an apartment it makes it harder to get to meet people in your program. Sure, you have your classes but at the end of the day your apartments can be at opposite ends of the city. With a host family you could end up having a really crappy family (although, I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like their family). Dorms. Oh dorms. You remember freshman year of college. The potential to not get along with your roommate and the gross shared bathrooms. Also, there is the potential that the dorms have bad food.
The Oh So Delicious Food
Pros: Being in a foreign country means that you can try a multitude of different foods. Being in France and near the Italian boarder, I literally had stuffed myself with Italian inspired French dishes. Considering also most students are in a big city there are many more options. Why not try them all? We all know you want the life of Anthony Bourdain…
Cons: Sadly, you aren’t Anthony Bourdain. Tony just happens to be quite famous and gets to try anything his heart desires, no matter the price. Currently the dollar to euro exchange rate is bad, so food can get pricey. Heard of donner kebabs? You sure will once you study abroad! But every once in a while you have to treat yourself to a good meal.
Getting to Travel ANYWHERE!
Pros: Thanks to Easy Jet and Ryan Air you can get cheap tickets to almost any city in Europe. Want to go to Paris for the weekend? No prob! Just around 60 euro total (on a good day) can get you there and back. Chances are wherever you are in Europe it will only be an hour to an hour and a half to your destination. Euro Rail? Sure! It’s cheap and pretty easy to get around on.
Cons: Tickets can be pricey. You just have to get them far in advance. Airports can can be lousy if you hate doing that, but so do trains. There are the few that don’t mind being on a train for 9 hours from Cannes to Venice- but that just doesn’t float my boat. Also the Euro Rail can get to be pretty expensive. Might as well pay the same price and fly.
The People You Meet at Your College/University
Pros: Hopefully you get the opportunity to study at an international school. Just being with Americans can get tiring and having other friends from other countries means you get to learn about their culture. Also it means you have friends in many different countries. Spring break in Barcelona? Why not! And I’m not saying don’t hang around the other Americans- I’ve met so many fantastic friends through my program. Having the international friends is just an extra bonus.
Cons: The people you don’t get along with. This happens no matter where you go. Every thing starts out all hunky dory but then you really get to know people. You just have to get to know other people and figure out where you fit in. Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Learning the Language
Pros: There is nothing wrong with learning a new language if you’ve never learned it before. It’s such a resume booster! Also you feel pretty intelligent whenever you head back to the states and realize some of your friends don’t even know the language you’ve learned.
Cons: Any new language can be tough. I’ve had a lot of struggles with my French and sometimes you get so fed up you wish you had studied in the UK. Even when the tough gets going, you have to keep trucking.
I hope this has inspired someone to go out and think about studying abroad. I hate using the whole “I’m so blessed” phrase because it’s so overused but once you do study abroad you think, “I’m seriously so blessed!” The fact that your parents let you stay in another country for a semester or even a year makes you one special person. Not everyone has the opportunity to do this and if the stars align perfectly, then you have to jump on it. Just do it, and I promise you it will be the opportunity of a lifetime.