Personal Reflection: Studying Abroad Was the Best Thing I Ever Did – Can It Benefit Your Child?

Study abroad semesters may not be for everyone, but I am glad did it in my youth. In 1997, I studied in London, England for one college semester. I won a partial scholarship, but financial aid mostly paid for it. It was a time of my life when I had already been travelling a few years, mostly on volunteer humanitarian projects. However, those were two to three-week trips.

This was the first time in my life that I would be living away from home for several month. I went to the Richmond University, the American International University in London. It was a very somber time to visit as well. Princess Diana perished in a car crash the day before my flight departed for London. I studied literature, philosophy, and drama during my time abroad.

One of my classes required students to see several theater performances throughout the semester. It was the first time I had ever lived in a dorm, but I got along with my dormmates. I look back on that time fondly and I am proud of myself for doing something like that. I was able to survive in another culture as a student for a semester.

There are many benefits in studying abroad for a semester, but not every student may be emotionally ready for it. Also, there are the costs involved. If you have a child in college who is considering a study abroad semester, here is what you should consider.

The Cost

A study abroad semester can help a student boost their confidence, expose them to another culture, and help them learn another language. However, depending on the country, additional tuition and room and board costs could be significant. You’ll need an emergency fund as well for medical care if needed, and more.

A study abroad semester in Australia can cost $22,000 per semester. It costs about $19,000 per semester in Morocco. The most affordable country to study in is China, which cost about $6,600 per semester. Tuition costs to study abroad on the average is about $15,000 per semester. However, you should keep in mind that the standards of education you pay for differ from school to school.

Also, there are also so many additional application costs that may be involved. Like, paying for visas, travel insurance, and of course, air fare. Some students don’t enjoy study abroad and need to leave early, so you will have to emergency funds for emergency plane tickets, if needed.

The Emotional Cost

A study abroad semester may not be a good idea for students who are too emotionally immature to handle it. Some students may become crippled by homesickness. The standards of living and social infrastructure in non-Western, developing countries may be intolerable for a young person accustomed to the relative convenience of American life.

Also, it takes maturity to be able to handle being immersed in a foreign culture for an extended period of time.

A Decision Not to be Made Lightly

The only thing I regret about my travel abroad semester is that I should have went somewhere more adventurous. My nephew spent a year in China. Anyway, it might be a good idea to consider a study abroad semester for your child. However, it shouldn’t be a decision taken lightly. Here is a list of financial aid sources that can help you subsidize study abroad costs.

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