My time abroad is already halfway finished. It feels like just yesterday I was counting down the months and days until my departure with much anticipation and a bit of fear. Yet, living abroad for the past two months has shown me how simple it is to live in another country. For many, including me just a few months back, living and studying abroad seemed incredibly complex; however, it’s much more doable than I ever imagined!
There are many assumptions made and enforced by our parents, peers, and society that make living abroad seem out of reach. In reality, it’s never been easier! Here are five myths busted regarding studying abroad:
Myth: Studying abroad is out of my price range.
Fact: It’s not as expensive as you think! This depends on each person’s circumstances, but for many studying abroad is about the same price as studying in the U.S. Often the financial aid received at your home university applies to the program fees, and there are additional scholarships and grants available for students studying abroad. I ended up getting my program covered by financial aid and I even got some money back from scholarships! Talk to a financial aid advisor at your school to see how you can make studying abroad more affordable.
Myth: I won’t be able to take the classes I need to graduate.
Fact: Every school has general education requirements, such as history, art, science, or literature and just about every AIFS program offers courses in these general subjects. Additionally, some AIFS programs offer courses geared towards popular majors, such as business or science. The program in Limerick has a wide variety of courses because you go to school at the University of Limerick. I am able to take classes that are applicable to my less common degree in Journalism! They offer courses for very diverse majors from Equine Science to Sports Medicine.
Myth: I can’t be away from my family and friends for a whole semester.
Fact: You will miss your family and friends, but not as much as you anticipate. Studying abroad is a high-action activity. You’ll be so busy traveling, exploring, taking part in new experiences, and making new friends, you won’t have time to worry about affairs back home. You’ll bond with these new friends so quickly that you’ll wonder how you ever went through life without them! Additionally, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social networking apps make communicating with family and friends incredibly simple and manageable.
Myth: You can only study abroad if you know a foreign language.
Fact: I only speak English and I am doing just fine. AIFS offers multiple programs in countries that speak primarily English, including England, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and more! Additionally, you can get by with just English in many other European countries. While abroad, I’ve travelled to France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Croatia, and I have plans for more non-English speaking countries. I’ve had no problem communicating with locals, because most of them, especially the younger generation, have been learning English since primary school.
Myth: Europeans dislike Americans.
Fact: As long as you’re respectful, they’ll love you! I’ve made friends with the Irish, French, Spanish, English, Belgian, German, Swedish, and more! Many Europeans don’t understand the pride we have for our country. Yet, they’re open minded and very quick to pick your brain about all things American!
Now that I know how easy it is to plan and adapt to life abroad, I have dreams swirling in my head of studying abroad in South Africa next year and maybe graduate school in India. And knowing that I tackled this “impossible” challenge, I feel incredibly confident about challenges I’ll face in my future.
Follow me on Instagram for updates on my Adventures Abroad: @lauren_leola.
Above: Admiring the view of Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
Above: Getting silly at the Eiffel Tour in Paris