Maybe you’ve considered travel. I used to think that I would travel when I was done school. Then, it occurred to me: there’s no time like the present. Going on exchange was the best thing that I could have done. Here are a few reasons that studying abroad is great:
1. It’s cheaper.
When you travel as a student, it is often cheaper than traveling later in life. There are a few reasons why: you can get great student discounts (get an ISIC card: an International Student Identification Card), you don’t mind staying in hostels, and sometimes the school will help you pay.
2. It’s more organized.
If you have been scared to travel because you don’t want to do all the paperwork of getting a passport, a visa, and you don’t know how to book a flight, don’t worry. If you go on an exchange through school, your school will help you with all of the international paperwork. They can answer all your questions. You might not have a lot of experience traveling: they have a lot of experience sending students on exchange. Don’t be afraid to benefit from their experience.
3. It’s the real experience.
Often when people travel, they take cruises or tours. As much fun as a Contiki tour is, you will probably never get to know any of the places that you visit. You would only hang out with your friends who you came with. If you go on exchange, instead of staying at each place for only a day or so, you get to stay for a few months, or even a year. This means that you will really get the feel for your destination. You will make friends with people who are locals. You will have enough time to really absorb the new culture.
4. It’s a rewarding (and awarding) time.
You can get certain awards, prizes, and fellowships for studying abroad. You can even get some when you return from your trip. If you are worried that you won’t be able to pay for your trip, find out about some internationalist awards that you can win, and take the time to apply. There are also special loans for students who plan on studying abroad.
5. It’s more fun to learn.
When you go on exchange, you will take courses at another high school or college. Yes, there will be school. But the real learning that you do when you are on exchange is not done in the classroom. You will learn things at school, but you will be amazed at how much you learn when you are just having fun. Go sightseeing, see everything you can see. Sign up for field trips and get out there. You’ll remember more about your art history if you go see the Sistine Chapel!
If you are going to a country where English isn’t the primary language, now is the time to learn that language. Take some courses (even buy some tapes) before you go. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake in that language. Just practicing will help you improve. You will find your trip is more rewarding if you make the effort to learn a second language. (Be careful: often when people find out that you are an exchange student, they will want to practice their English with you. However, you can politely explain that you are here to practice their language and they will often understand).
6. It helps you learn about yourself.
You might think that you have traveled to another country to learn about that country. But you will find that you also learn more about your country when you travel because you will start comparing your culture to another culture. When other people ask you questions about your country, you might learn new things about your history, geography, and politics. You will come back to America knowing more about who you are and where you come from.
7. It looks great on a resume.
In the end, after you have traveled the world, seen all the sights, and come back a better person, you will be able to put this exchange on your resume. You will be able to explain your experience for jobs, future education, and other positions that you apply for.
8. It’s easy to finance
If you are concerned about financing your exchange, don’t worry. You can get special loans to help you. Check out the link below.