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The Five Worst Things about Studying Abroad

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This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to do more traveling in three months than I have in my entire life! In May, I went on the Davidson Management Honor’s Program international trip to Australia, where we visited Australian businesses and saw sites in Sydney. Then, I spent the entire month of July with Forum-Nexus, a program that takes students from around the world to eight cities across Europe, visiting companies and taking classes in international universities and hotel conference rooms as your professors travel with you from country to country. Based on my experiences this past summer, I found my personal list of the five worst things about studying abroad:

1. There are too many places that you want to go to. I want to visit every continent before I die, and with so many different study abroad options, it’s difficult to choose where to travel. The Jindal School offers study trips, exchange programs and international internships, and it’s difficult to decide what to do when it all seems like so much fun! If you don’t want to be gone from home for a long time, a study trip may be your best option. For me, I did not want to be gone an entire semester, and I also wanted to visit as many places as I could at once (as opposed to staying in one city for my entire trip). This led me to discovering Forum-Nexus, which took me to five countries in such a short amount of time.

2. Traveling can be expensive. I will not lie — you have to keep in mind the program costs, the costs of airfare, and then you’ll have to pay for everything once you get abroad: eating, sleeping, exploring, the list goes on. Fortunately, going with a university group usually gets you a discount on your trip, which would be much more expensive if you were to try to plan it yourself. UT Dallas also offers a variety of scholarship opportunities that can help subsidize the costs. There are also opportunities outside the university as well. For my Europe trip, I was able to find a scholarship that paid for my flight.

My roommate, Lauren, and I at Franklin University Switzerland, one of the universities that we had class in over the course of the month! 

3. You’ll make some of the best friends you have ever had. Whether you go a semester abroad and make international friends, or you participate in a study trip and connect with UT Dallas students, once you come back home you will go from spending every day with your friends to not seeing them as often. Fortunately, with social media it’s easy to stay connected to the friends you make, but I do miss my roommate, who I ate every meal with while I was abroad. I met some really smart students from all over the world, and while I am sad I no longer see them every day, I cannot wait to visit them in the future.

4. You’ll catch the travel bug. When I was away, I couldn’t wait to get home and see my friends. However, once I got back to Texas, all I wanted to do was to go abroad again! I also have a newfound appreciation for the areas around us. While abroad, I got into the habit of always searching ‘top sights to see’ for whatever city I was in; and now, as I visit different cities in the U.S., I have started to do the same. While you will want to go out and see more of the world, you’ll also want to see more of the world that you already live in.

5. You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone. If you go to another country, there’s a decent chance that not everyone will speak English where you end up. For me, I found myself walking around Spain not understanding all of the signs, not being able to read a menu, and barely being able to ask for directions. You probably won’t know anyone when you arrive, and you may have to make all new friends. However, as you try new cultural experiences and meet different people, you will grow as an individual and be opened to a new global perspective.

Traveling abroad can be stressful with planning, and you might get a little homesick. But studying abroad is a great opportunity that you should take as a student while you have the opportunity. Even though I did a lot of traveling last summer, I still wish I had taken the time to see more places while I was getting my degree. I definitely grew to be more independent and confident while abroad, and absolutely cannot wait until my next trip.

Michelle Abuda

J. Michelle Abuda earned her BS in Management Information Systems and MS in Business Analytics from the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Currently, she works at Crowe Horwath as a Regulatory Compliance Risk Consultant in the Columbus, Ohio office. During her time at JSOM, she was actively involved as a leader on the Dean's Council. She helped found the JSOM Book Club, as well as the TEDxUTD Club. Read more articles

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