Recently, I have seen several articles being shared around the Internet explaining why all college students simply have to study abroad. During my freshman and sophomore years, I was constantly being reminded how excited I should be to go abroad during my junior year. When junior year finally came, the majority of my friends did go abroad, and found they truly loved the experience. But me? I stayed within the United States, and chose to complete a semester-long program in another state that directly related to my major. Here are 5 reasons why I chose not to study abroad:
A Better Experience Can be Found at Home
I chose to major in environmental science simply because my passion is to preserve and protect the area in which I live. In order to do this, I need to learn about the animals, habitat and environmental problems in the part of the world I plan to work. Why take classes abroad when I can learn and have more useful experiences right in the United States? I chose to spend the semester at a reputable marine biological laboratory, taking rigorous field courses and studying what I love in a much more intensive setting than what is available on a college campus.
The Costs Outweigh the Benefits
I believe that if I’m going to spend a large sum of money to travel, I want to see everything I can without being rushed, while having autonomy to change my original plans if desired. I didn’t want to limit my traveling to only happen around my class schedule. I also didn’t want to end up sacrificing traveling to a certain city or country because of what my abroad friends wanted to do. And lastly, I didn’t want to be tied down to one particular place, with the inability to move freely. Traveling is a very personal experience, and not something I want to do improperly, especially if I am spending money to do so.
The Freedom to Travel After Graduation
Although this doesn’t apply to everyone, I am lucky enough to have the ability to travel after I graduate. Knowing how I felt about traveling as part of an academic group (as explained in Number 2), having the choice to travel after college made my decision to not study abroad much easier. Now, after I graduate, the extra money I would have put into studying abroad for a semester can be used to create my own perfect itinerary, where I can travel freely and at my own pace. Additionally, I will have the choice to be more frugal with my money, so the same dollar amount that I would have spent studying abroad will last me much longer than it would have on a college housing and meal plan.
Ability to Take More Interesting Courses
When first researching going abroad, I found that students are often constrained to taking very specific courses, especially if they are living in a country where they can’t speak the language. Being a science major, I have to be careful to take all of my necessary classes in order to graduate on time. Why would I pay to take classes in another country, when they weren’t classes I wanted to take, or even classes I was interested in? I found I was much happier with the program I chose, which gave me the ability to truly find out just how much I loved studying environmental science. I also found it gave me a slight advantage to my peers who studied abroad, as I now have more field experience and connections within my field for when I begin looking for a post-graduation job.
Better Appreciation for all the United States Has to Offer
Lastly, I found that while staying within the United States for my program, I was left with the choice to explore my own country. In doing so, I found that there are many places and populations just as diverse, unique, and fascinating as those that can be found abroad. When I returned to my college campus, I had a new-found appreciation for all the places that I had once simply glanced over. There are many amazing things to be found within the United States if you are simply willing to view the country through the lens of a visitor.
Although I understand that studying abroad is, for some, a very rewarding and remarkable experience, I am happy with my choice to wait to travel abroad. This article is meant to showcase to other college students why going abroad may not be the best choice for everyone. Help continue the discussion by commenting below with whether or not you decided to go abroad, and why you chose what you did!