Is it just me, or is a year abroad an excuse for postponing the real world?

You have to pay the loan at some point

As I am about to embark on possibly the greatest year of my life, I’m contemplating the question; is my year abroad is going to be that beneficial towards my degree, or is it just a way of postponing reality and getting myself a job?

As an American Studies student, it is compulsory for me to spend a year over in the States. I’m not complaining as I have specialised in the Black experience in the U.S. So to go to South Carolina for my year abroad would actually be pretty beneficial in terms of what I study.

What baffles me, however, is the amount of people going abroad just for the sake of going abroad.


Call me old fashioned, but shouldn’t students only get to go abroad if it is actually beneficial to your degree? If you want to travel do that in your own time.

I’ve heard good arguments in defence – the year abroad is a good way of showing employers that you can adapt to new surroundings and settle down in foreign environments, and in some cases learn an entirely new language which, I do agree, looks great on a CV.

So I decided to ask some fellow students what they thought of the whole idea of the year abroad.

Joe, Philosophy and Psychology first year said: “At the risk of sounding cynical, essentially yeah”. He agrees with the notion that the year abroad is just another way of avoiding getting a job.

A third year loving life on her year abroad

Worth it for the scenery alone!

Holly, a CAS second year said: “It gives us a break before sh*t gets serious in fourth year”.

For Charlie, PAIS second year, its good up to a point. He said: “It’s beneficial as long as it helps you develop an understanding of cultural relativity and not just reinforce ideas of assumptions that you already have. I think as long as you genuinely learn something and gain an appreciation for different cultures, it’s very beneficial”.

Ollie, Third Year in the US

Ollie, Third Year in the US

Ollie is a third year currently on his year abroad. He said: “I saw it as an opportunity to be able to show future employers that I have not hesitated towards expanding my horizons, that I have gone out into the world and shown that I can adapt, adjust and integrate into a new society”

“Having lived out in the US for seven months now, I certainly feel like I’ve added significantly to my own personal sense of independence and self-reliance. It is a year that I know I will be able to look back on in the future and be able to say ‘It helped me define who I am as a person’. It has helped me contrast and compare the society that I am accustomed to back home, and because of that, I feel more culturally aware.”