To Go Or Not To Go… Study Abroad Decisions

“Do I really want to go abroad?” I asked myself. I had a tough time motivating myself to apply to study abroad. I whole-heartedly enjoy my semesters at the University of Rochester—I love our campus, my professors, the clubs in which I’m involved, and of course, my wonderful friends and suite mates. I weighed the pros and cons, and ultimately decided to apply. And I’m so happy I did! Here are my winning arguments. I hope you find them helpful in deciding whether you would like to study abroad!

Exploring culture

I was motivated to get immersed in the culture of another country as a student. Through study abroad, you’re really able to get past the “tourist” phase and delve into the lifestyles of the people around you. That’s what I really hoped for when applying to a study abroad program: learning more than surface-level information about a nation and its culture.

New perspectives in the classroom

I was excited by the idea of learning about public health from a new perspective. How do other countries perceive public health issues? Which ones take priority in the UK? How does having a universal healthcare system shift their opinion on these issues? I felt there was lots I could learn about my area of study from a new teaching perspective. This is a valuable component of my education, one that would help me develop a well-rounded perspective of my own. Any student could benefit from learning about a subject from a different angle. Furthermore, it has been so interesting to be thrown into a new classroom setting. My assignments in the United Kingdom are quite different from my assignments back in the United States, as is the grading system. It is challenging yet refreshing to adjust my study habits. I was looking forward to a fresh start with my study habits when studying abroad.

Valuable life skills

One of the most enticing components of study abroad, for me at least, was the prospect of improving my “life skills.” Living in a new environment, specifically a city like London, gives you the chance to expand your ability to be a “real” person. I was excited to have a kitchen to cook meals for myself. At the University of Rochester, I mostly rely on the dining hall for my meals. Now, I cook my own meals every day! I was excited to plan my own adventures each day, managing my expenses and coming up with money-saving strategies, and traversing public transportation on my own! I was thrilled by the opportunity to work on my life skills, which will definitely come in handy when I graduate.

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I plan trips to art museums? I cook with onions? I navigate the Tube on my own? I must be an adult now.

Do it for the ‘gram

Just kidding. Though I was excited to take lots of Instagram-worthy pictures and come up with lots of cheesy captions. I can assure you, you’ll take wonderful pictures while abroad. The sights, the fashion, the food … the photo opportunities are endless.

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Don’t forget the Instagram opportunities!

Travel with training wheels

One of the best parts of study abroad is the aspect of traveling in a nurturing context. While abroad, I have tons of resources to help me succeed. I have the help of my advisors at the University of Rochester, my advisors at IES Abroad, my peers, my parents, etc. It is a great environment to experience travel for the first time. Orientation and monthly check-ins help with adjusting to a new country. I feel supported while having all these new experiences.

Plus, there are lots of perks to traveling as a student—cheaper tickets, student deals and discounts, and cool ways to get immersed in the location that you otherwise wouldn’t have! For example, I’ve joined a college student spiritual discussion group, which gives me a chance to connect to a new group of friends here. It’s also so helpful for traveling across Europe, because there are lots of pre-organized trips through IES Abroad and other study abroad programs. That’s awesome, because seriously, planning a trip on your own is tough! Studying abroad is an awesome way to travel while having a safety net just in case. Having never traveled on my own before, I knew this would be a good way to start.

I hope this gives you a bit of inspiration for thinking about your own goals with study abroad!

About the author

Charlotte Pillow

I am a member of the Class of 2019. I am originally from Ridgewood, NJ. I am a student in the Dual Degree for Nursing program. I am majoring in nursing, public health, and interdisciplinary dance studies, and minoring in psychology. I am the President of the College Diabetes Network and a research assistant at the School of Nursing. For the 2017 spring semester, I am studying public health at the University of Oxford.

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