You should study abroad for a summer, not a semester
Nothing like a summer love affair with a beautiful country
Every college student has heard about the advantages of studying abroad, maybe to a sickening degree: studying abroad makes you more culturally aware, expands your horizons, and makes you more appealing to future employers. As a lover of traveling, no one had to convince me to spend my 20s in a new country.
However, I was torn between studying abroad for an entire semester or just for a summer. For those of you with the same dilemma, let me offer my humble opinion: studying abroad over my summers was the best decision I could have made, and here’s why.
You can spend a couple summers studying in different places for the price of one semester
Most semester-long programs (at least at my school) come to be around $17,000 a semester: an incredibly scary lump sum, if you ask me. With two summer study abroad programs under my belt, I saved $6,000, with a nice interval in between to replenish my bank account. Fiscal responsibility is always a concern, and summers abroad help save some money.
Speaking of money…
You can still have some summer time at home!
Many college students make the bulk of their money over the summer, and losing time with family and friends over the summer holiday can seem terrible. However, many programs have one or two month classes, so you can still work and avoid hometown FOMO while experiencing life in another country.
If you’re a transfer student or truly love your university, you optimize your time on campus
I transferred schools after my first year of college, and I fell in love with my current university. Already having a year less at this school, I didn’t want to spend another semester or year away. A summer abroad was perfect for me, because I still get to spend my college years on the campus I dearly love.
The weather is gorgeous over the summer
Have you been to Denmark in the winter? It’s dreary, cold, and rainy every day. However, their summer months are amazing: sunshine for eighteen hours a day and temperatures in the 60s. If you’re thinking about studying in the southern hemisphere, our summer vacation is the perfect time to do it. Their winter months are our summer months, and the weather is much more tolerable in a Tanzanian winter than it is during the summer.
Classes are just long enough, so you won’t burn out
Month long classes? Sounds great to me! I know that I start losing interest in a class after about a month and a half, so this time span works perfectly for me. You can also find programs that have study tours to different countries, which helps maintain classroom focus. Instead of spending all my time in Denmark, I got to spend a week in England where my professor planned amazing trips to productions, tours of all the greatest sites, and even a tour of amazing food in the East End. Why just settle for one place when you can study in two?
You can experience countries you might not visit otherwise
If I could only go to one country for an entire semester, the odds of me picking Tanzania would have been slim; it was a country I didn’t know much about, with a language that I didn’t know. However, for a summer session, I made an excellent choice. Countries with unfamiliar cultures can be scary, especially if you are going to spend half a year there. A couple months is less of a commitment, but you still get all the benefits of studying in another country.
And, of course, my favorite part:
Making rapid-fire friendships with people from all over
There is something unique about spending a month or two with the same people, exploring together, and studying together. Within a month, I met some amazing girls with whom I will keep in touch, and that’s incredible. Spending such a short time together forced us out of our comfort zones and helped us to continue exploring the country together.
Now get out there and explore!