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Make the Commitment to Study Abroad

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Make the Commitment to a Semester Abroad

Studying abroad is a big commitment, especially if you decide to go for a full semester. But I’m sure anyone who’s been will tell you the same thing- it’s a once and a lifetime experience. Of course, going for summer or winter session is also a great experience. Especially if you can’t gather the funds for a full semester or you aren’t able to fit four months out of the country into your busy undergraduate schedule. But if you don’t fall into one of the categories above and have the opportunity to go abroad for an entire semester- I highly recommend it.

When you live in a country for four months, you become a local. You know where to grocery shop, how to avoid the tourists, where all the good parks are, etc. You get to venture outside of the popular destinations and see for yourself how the local people really live, work, and play. When you go for one of the month long sessions you are really just a “glorified tourist.” You spend the majority of your time running around the country trying to see all of the landmarks, museums, and historical places. It’s impossible to capture the true essence of what it’s like to live in a foreign country in such a short time period.

Plus, you’ll have more opportunities to travel outside of the country if you go for a full semester. For example, if you chose to study in London, you’d have plenty of free weekends and easy access to continental Europe, where you could see numerous additional countries and experience their own unique cultures. You would also get a one to two week break period which you could use to explore. When you go abroad for winter or summer session your prospects for travel are severely constricted.

Eiffel tower

Furthermore, by going for a whole semester you gain a better understanding of how the school system in that country operates. You are placed with real professors from your chosen country and held to the same standards to which they hold native students. This is immensely valuable if you plan to attend graduate school in that country or if you are considering a career in teaching abroad. When you go for the month long programs the conditions are typically much more relaxed and the classes are usually taught in an American manner rather than a foreign one.

If you’ve decided to just go abroad for one of the shorter sessions without giving much thought to a full semester, I urge you to reconsider. Both are great experiences, but overall I find the semester long programs to be much more rewarding and enriching. It’s a serious commitment, but it’s one that you’ll both remember and cherish making.


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