Many of you might be thinking of studying abroad, but some of you may only be thinking about studying abroad over a shorter period of time during the summer. I mean wow; a whole semester just seems so long. I don’t want to miss out on that much time in college! If you’re thinking something along those lines or aren’t sure when to study abroad, then this post is for you. For a long time, I had told myself that I wanted to study abroad only over the summer, but then I got to thinking the following things and changed my mind last minute. And, boy, am I glad that I changed my mind!
1. If you’re going to work on a foreign language, then a month just isn’t enough time.
If you’re going to a place where the people have thick accents or dialects, then it will probably take you about a month or so just to get used to this different way of speaking. While a month of immersion is better than nothing, it just isn’t enough to significantly improve your language skills. Think of how much better they’d be if you were there for three to five more months!
2. You’re not going to really live in the culture.
If you’re only there for a month, you’re almost just a tourist. You’ll never see the city as it is when there aren’t many tourists around, and you won’t be there long enough to really go through all of the different stages of integrating into a new culture. You probably won’t face as many challenges that can be uncomfortable (but well worth it), and you probably won’t reach the stage where you feel like you’re integrating well into the culture and living just like a local.
3. You’ll have more time to travel.
If you’re only in a city for one month, that’s hardly enough time to see just that city, let alone the rest of the country plus the surrounding countries. While you may be able to do some traveling before or after a summer program, you’d still have more time during a semester, as well as cool opportunities to see countries during seasonal celebrations like Oktoberfest in Munich or Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Sevilla.
4. You’ll learn more.
If you want to study abroad to learn more about a culture, then you really should study abroad over the semester. It takes time to really get to know a culture (even more time if there are language barriers). In choosing to study abroad for longer than a month, you’ll learn so much more about the country that goes beyond the more surface level knowledge that you’d get in just one month – and you’d definitely have time to really see and live what you’re learning too.
It can be difficult at times to decide where and when to study abroad. But I hope that you’ll stop thinking about how much you might miss out or how scared you are to be away from home for so long, and just sign up! You may face some challenges, but in the end you’ll be glad you made the jump to study abroad for a longer period of time. Sometimes I feel like four months isn’t even enough, and I wish I had signed up to be abroad for a year! Don’t worry about missing out at school either – you’ll still have seven out of the eight semesters. Once you’re abroad you won’t be moping about wishing that you were in the U.S. anyways – you’ll just be so excited to learn in an environment that doesn’t almost seem like school at times and to travel anywhere you want! People at home will be the ones wishing they were studying abroad, yet many of them still won’t do it. Don’t be one of those people – take the plunge and have one of the best times of your life!