Study Abroad: Common Misconceptions

By: Zach

When it comes to even the thought of studying abroad, there seem to be some students who get deterred from the idea because of a variety of different factors. Getting the opportunity to go global is not only highly beneficial to your career and personal self, but there is only a limited window in your life where you will have the opportunity to spend a long period of time in a different country. For this short post, I want to break away a bit from our normal career focused material, and share more about the believed barriers to studying abroad. My goal is that the information I pass along about study abroad comes full circle. This is an opportunity that platforms you for success after graduation and creates a invaluable connection to personal career aspirations. So let’s get to it then. The real question is, “why are more students not taking advantage of study abroad during their time at UMD?” It is the University of Minnesota’s goal to have at least 50% of students take a global experience before they graduate and only 3% of UMD student do! So why is that? I want to address and explore the three main concerns I have heard from students about why they decide not to study abroad.

Abroad Misconceptions

I can’t afford to study abroad…

Indeed, the cost of one study abroad program may vary from another, yet you may surprisingly find that there are some programs that are less of a cost than a semester at UMD! No matter where you choose to go, the biggest financial factor to take into account is cost of living. Places in Europe may prove to be a bit more expensive when buying your loaf of bread at the store verses places in South America. The main thing to remember when planning your study abroad experience is that if you currently have financial aid, it is possible to have this aid rollover to the program tuition fee. Not only that, but UMD alone awards around $90,000 each year in scholarships to students studying abroad! There are many penny saving plans that will help you reach your study abroad destination, but the key to success is to do your research and develop a budget.

Classes I need won’t transfer…

While students with history, political science, language, and arts majors may find it easier to transfer classes taken overseas, that does not mean you won’t find classes for your criminology, health education, or even anthropology major. When it comes to planning your study abroad experience, it is important for you to do a bit of digging and research on what universities or programs will have classes you could take to stay on course for graduation. Remember that universities overseas also have majors and fields of study, and they also have classes to focus their studies around. After you have narrowed down a few locations, take a look at which universities offer classes you may need. At the end of the day, remember that the point of studying abroad is to think outside of the box and explore other interests that you may have never thought of before. Fill those upper division liberal education classes you still need in the history or arts. I took an Architecture of London course and took field trips to buildings across the city throughout the semester in England. I can say with certainty that this is not offered at UMD. Take a look at what UMD students have already taken while studying abroad and have gotten credit for. Just like before, it will take a bit of searching to find the best programs to fit your major, but ultimately, I promise there is a program that fits for you.

It’s too late for me to study abroad

Anytime between sophomore and junior year is the time to take advantage of a global program, however, don’t write yourself off even as a senior. There are plenty of opportunities as an upper division student not only to study abroad, but even international internships, volunteer work, and UROPs as well. When it comes to the application deadline, normally you will apply mid-way through the semester in advance of the one you want to be away. And if you procrastinate every once and awhile, like me, this still gives you a good amount of time to get all your ducks in a row before you leave. If a full semester over seas is just not for you, or you truly can’t find any options that allow for a clean transfer of classes, look into the UMD short-term programs that can take you around the world over a winter break or summer break, as there are plenty to choose from. Now there should be no excuse for you too say its too late. It’s as easy as landing your finger on the globe and packing!

All-in-all, I hope my short blurbs on studying abroad continue to interest you and provide great insights, as I truly want every student to have the same experience I had. The goal is to travel, learn, and grow. Push yourself out of your comfort zone every once and awhile, and I guarantee you will be happy you did so. Taking advantage of an opportunity like such is not only beneficial to skill development and career advancement, but it is an experience of a lifetime that provides priceless personal growth. During your time at UMD, take advantage of a resource you may never be able to use after graduation and study abroad!

Of Possible Interest:

Until next time,  Zach

Read Zach’s other posts

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