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The world is your classroom

December 10, 2010

There’s no doubt that living on campus is fun. But there’s a whole other world out there, and college is an increasingly popular time to go see it.

Why? Well, for starters, you might not get many chances for a while once you graduate and start working. Most universities now encourage or facilitate study abroad programs to enhance the value of their degree programs, and for good reason. As economies continue to globalize, many more careers are requiring a familiarity with the way life is lived outside the United States.  Immersing yourself in a foreign culture can be a transformative experience, exposing you to a wealth of different perspectives and languages and teaching lessons that take much longer to instill in a classroom. And, um … it’s insanely fun.

For most people, the perceived barrier to studying overseas isn’t psychological so much as it is financial. But you shouldn’t table dreams of studying overseas before you do the proper research. Outside of the number of scholarships and grants that can help fund a semester abroad, you can also look into paid opportunities to blog your experience for travel or study abroad websites – or even starting your own revenue-generating blog. Granted, “revenue' in this sense won’t be nearly enough to cover your total expenses, but it can chip away at them. And keeping a written record of your travels will help you hold on to the memories longer.

Additionally,the cost of a semester abroad – while generally higher than a regular semester at a four-year U.S. college – may not be THAT much higher,and may even be cheaper, depending on the host country you’re targeting and which part of the U.S. you are coming from. After you compare housing costs, you’ll want to consider two more numbers: the local currency’s exchange rate against the dollar and the city’s cost-of-living index. While European cities are typically more expensive to live in than American ones, Asian, African and Latin American cities tend to be closer in terms of affordability.

Though international flights are undeniably pricey, one pleasant aspect of studying in Europe is that once you’re there, it’s cheaper than you might think to move from country to country. For example, if you’re studying in Barcelona and want to visit friends in Rome for a long weekend, you can find cut-rate round-trip deals directly through discount carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet for around 100 Euros – total. (One word of warning: Refunds are extremely difficult to obtain if the airline reschedules a flight.) And even if your friends run out of sleeping spaces, you can usually find a clean and well-appointed hostel in a good location for less than the price of a Motel 6.

For more resources and information on starting your study abroad search, check out our friends at

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carl Madison December 10, 2010 at 3:15 pm

To not study abroad is to not live! It’s a once in a lifetime experience that no student should miss out on!

Reply December 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Yes, good point Carl! Never met anyone who regretted it, only those who regretted NOT doing it 🙂


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