On the record, a study abroad sounds amazing. To quote Mrs. Kawczynski from my book: “All of our students have had great experiences with studying abroad; it creates global awareness, it may help you advance your career, you can meet new friends, learn another language-” Yada, yada, yada.
Off the record, anybody who has ever done a study abroad should full-heartedly agree…study abroad is really mostly about partying, getting wasted and spending money left and right. That is, if you have it. But let’s face it- study abroad is not meant for poor students. After all, which sophomore has $6,000 (or more) just laying around to spend on a trip to Europe? Either it’s Mommy and Daddy who send their baby off to Europe so he/she “can see places and learn about culture” or, in some cases like mine, I worked at a grocery store and saved up my own money because my parents wouldn’t give it to me. But all the people with me in my program never worked a day in their lives, and to them spending 200 dollars on a dirndl was nothing.
And let’s not forget the schools. They make money too. For example, when you pay for study abroad they say they cover tuition of the foreign country too. Well, in Europe, most schools are for free so there actually is no tuition to pay. So who do you think keeps the money? And why do you think they encourage you to go? To get more funding…..
The hypocrisy of the benefits of a study abroad is immense. Classes are meant to be easy because they want the exchange students to be happy and recommend their school so they get more people to come. There is no real work actually expected of you, a few projects here and there so you can say you had something to do. Language classes? Sure, they exist, but no one really bothers to learn the language after they find the groups of other fellow Americans, Germans etc…People stick in groups, and the only thing uniting everyone is alcohol, and constant partying.
As someone who has done a study abroad, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. I am just saying don’t pretend you’re doing it for noble reasons and under cliche excuse that it will help you with your resume.
I don’t take anyone who has been on a study abroad seriously. To truly live in a different culture, to learn from it and embrace it…you must be, at least once, on the verge of tears, stuck at the electrical company in a foreign company, trying desperately to explain to the guy (who obviously speaks no English at all) why you need electricity in your apartment in his native language. And understand what he says back. That’s a real world experience.
Thanks for reading this, comment if you like or dislike what I wrote, I want to hear your opinions!