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12 Common Myths About Studying Abroad

by AIFS Abroad
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It’s normal to feel a little anxious about studying abroad – we’ve all been there. But don’t let misconceptions and myths hold you back from the adventure of a lifetime. When it comes to studying abroad, some of the most common reservations students have are untrue.

Here are some of the most frequent myths about studying abroad that we hear:

1. It’s unaffordable. ❌

This is the most common myth shared with us. We recognize that every student’s financial situation is different, but don’t rule out studying abroad just because you think you can’t afford it – there are ways to make it work! While study abroad is an investment, the cost can range significantly depending on your program choice.

At AIFS Abroad, we’re happy to accept financial aid and any outside grants or scholarships you receive. However, it’s always up to your home institution and the scholarship provider to determine how funds can be applied to study abroad. If you receive financial aid and you’re considering studying abroad, it’s a good idea to talk to your study abroad office and financial aid office to see if it can be applied to your program.

Did you know? AIFS Abroad also offers scholarships and grants for our semester, January term and summer programs each year. 

While abroad, don’t forget to keep your budget in mind when you’re planning activities and trips. There are plenty of amazing things to do and see no matter what your budget is, so don’t worry about missing out on anything.

2. You have to be fluent in another language. ❌ 

AIFS Abroad has programs that can accommodate all levels of language learners, from beginners to fluent and native speakers. While some program options and courses may have language prerequisites, there are plenty of opportunities to study abroad even if you don’t speak the local language.

If language learning in general is not of interest to you, you can also study abroad in countries that are primarily English-speaking.

3. It’s unsafe. ❌

At AIFS Abroad, our first priority is the health and safety of participants. With almost 60 years of experience, our policies and procedures related to health and safety are extremely effective and our record is excellent. We believe that safety starts with being prepared. That’s why we take a comprehensive approach to preemptively minimizing risk and preparing students for their time abroad. AIFS Abroad programs include on-site staff, 24/7 emergency support, and a medical and travel insurance package. 

4. You won’t graduate on time. ❌

One of the more common myths about studying abroad is that it will delay your graduation. Research, however, suggests that the opposite is true. Students who study abroad are more likely to graduate on time and with a higher GPA than those who don’t. You can also study abroad during school breaks with a summer or January term program. With proper planning, it’s completely possible to stay on track with your degree.

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5. It won’t impact your career. ❌  

Did you know that currently, less than 10% of US college students study abroad? That means if you decide to take advantage of this opportunity, it could really set you apart from your peers when it comes to finding a job after graduation. 

Our AIFS Abroad alumni confirm that their time abroad impacted their job search and career path. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to develop your soft skills like flexibility, independence and communication.  

6. You can only go on a school-run program. ❌

It’s a myth that your options for studying abroad are limited to programs offered at your school. Third-party providers, like AIFS Abroad, offer a wide variety of study abroad programs year-round. With nearly 60 years of experience and hundreds of university partners, we have extensive experience facilitating study abroad programs for U.S. students. 

7. You need to be extroverted. ❌

Traveling and exploring can be fun for introverts, too! Whether you’re taking a scenic stroll, people-watching in a public square or reading a book at a cozy café, you’ll find the peaceful moments for introspection that you need while you’re studying abroad. 

8. You’ll be completely on your own once you arrive. ❌

It’s a common misconception that support stops once you arrive at your study abroad destination. For example, every AIFS Abroad program has on-site staff familiar with the location. They can help you throughout your program and provide any resources you need while abroad.  

9. You need to have perfect grades. ❌

You don’t need to be at the very top of your class to study abroad. Most AIFS Abroad programs recommend that applicants have a minimum GPA of 2.5. However, lower GPAs are considered on a case-by-case basis. It’s definitely worth it to reach out and see if we have a study abroad program that meets your needs.

AIFS Abroad students exploring Bo Kaap in South Africa during one of the classes on their study abroad program

10. The “study” in “study abroad” is irrelevant. ❌

Academics provide the framework for learning and growing during your program. Your classes abroad are an opportunity for you to gain a global perspective on the topics you’re studying. The courses you take can enhance your cultural experience by providing a deeper understanding of the history, politics, and social issues of your host country. 

11. STEM and other highly technical majors can’t study abroad. ❌

You don’t have to major in communications or the humanities to find a study abroad program that meets your academic and personal needs. Contrary to popular belief, STEM majors and students pursuing other highly technical fields can study abroad. AIFS offers a wide range of program options that appeal to various majors and motivations for going abroad.

12. If you’ve never traveled before, you shouldn’t go. ❌

There’s a first for everything! Studying abroad is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And with a trusted provider like AIFS Abroad, you’ll have the support and resources you need to feel comfortable before and during your program. 

Consider these myths about studying abroad BUSTED. 

It’s important to remember that while there are certainly some challenges that come with studying abroad, many of the misconceptions and myths around it simply aren’t true. You don’t need to be fluent in another language, be wealthy or have a specific major to study abroad. With a little bit of research and preparation, anyone can make studying abroad a reality. 

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