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Studying Abroad Has Value But Aim for Being Well Prepared

By Chala Civan


Although the concept of a college education embodies discovering yourself through various opportunities such as research, varied student activities, requirements outside of your major and all the experiences gained during your studies, everyone has a different understanding of college education.


Conditions or individual goals can cause those differences. You might prefer the comfort of your family's home and having someone do your laundry in exchange for trimming the garden, or you might feel like you need more time to leave. Not everyone has the same desires and ideas for the future but for those eager to see different perspectives and learn about how things are going in other places on Earth, studying abroad is the perfect opportunity.


“It's a gift that lasts a lifetime,” said Rosemary Bradshaw, administrative assistant for the Center for International Education of Adelphi


As a psychology and communications student from Turkey in an American college,  I couldn't help but wonder: Is studying abroad really worth it? 


While continuing your education and earning the credits you need, you will discover the various dynamics and how they were back home, where you gained your world vision. This will be an excellent opportunity to question your values while out of your comfort zone. However, you might come across homesickness if you leave for a while. Leaving all the connections and the precious memories back home and knowing they will continue in your absence is a hard truth to handle. At the same time, you’ll continue without the presence of the life you built for yourself. Perhaps you’ll speak another language, and you won't be able to find your comfort food as it tastes the same back home and will question your reality repeatedly, even when you return home. 


All the fantastic experiences and struggles will stay as memories and will be part of your journey to discovering yourself. You’ll be able to accommodate and learn with scholars with different backgrounds than yours. If you are considering studying abroad, there are a few things you should consider.


Chala Civan from Istanbul, Turkey and Ilaria Ponziani from Genoa, Italy, on the Flagpole Lawn in April. Photo by Faith Ryakkia

Finances. You must supply the required documents and insurance. Once you get accepted to the program, you’ll need to work with the student offices of the school you picked to issue a student visa during your stay. There’s a fee for the visa application, in addition to the translated documents required for the visa. The insurance cost varies based on the length of your stay, but it is worth considering. If you’re already a registered student in a college in your country and are only going on an exchange, there will be an exchange fee for that as well. 


Transportation. If you are traveling overseas, you should plan your trip early to avoid paying higher prices. It’s important to remember that the student visa only allows you to work for limited jobs and primarily for restricted hours. Before arrival, you should plan your expenses and budget. Check the average living costs of the country and compare them with the region you live in so you can have a clearer idea about how much you’ll need. Also, look into the scholarship opportunities: the school you choose might have scholarship grants for the exchange students or the school you’re registered with might have grants for you.


Language and cultural barriers. Even though there are many English-taught universities worldwide, the country you plan to study in might mainly use its local language. You might not be able to find many English speakers outside the class, or the locals might prefer to speak something other than English in daily life. Some cultures have different dynamics, and your experience with individuals from the same country will differ. Knowing about the culture and its social dynamics can be helpful while interacting with the natives. For that, you might consider watching a series about the country and reading about the history and news to get more ideas.


Post-AUI student Javier Ruiz, an international student from Valencia, Spain, mentioned his experiences while he was taking international students-only classes. “I felt very isolated. I was still taking English-as-a-second-language classes, and everyone around me was an ESL speaker like me.” 


In those cases, it might be hard to engage with the country. Consider practicing the language before arrival and try to participate in student organizations and activities.


Learn about the country's college system. Some countries might have more traditional systems compared to the U.S. college system. It might be hard not to adapt to a study method that is more suitable for the country's system and not to discuss the expectations of the instructors of the school you are planning to attend Adelphi.


Mariam Shvangiradze is an international student from Georgia who has been on the Dean's List multiple times. “If you try hard, you can work things out,” she said. “Maybe you are not a 4.0, but [you can still be a] 3.8 if you are trying hard. Some instructors outside of the US might have different approaches to their students and grading systems.’’So it is essential to be aware of all of them. 


All Adelphi exchange students should register for the classes they plan to take after their advisors approve. Registration should be completed before arrival. Adelphi students can register for classes in a language other than English if they are proficient in it.”


For the students who are planning to go abroad, Shannon Harrison, director of the Center for International Education, hosts an advising session every Wednesday; you can join through a link. The earlier you plan, the greater your advantage in planning your schedule. The Center of Global Education of Adelphi suggests students highlight their experience abroad during their college education. You can visit the Career Center located in Nexus to work on highlighting your experience with the experts.


To reach out for more details about Adelphi’s programs, check the Study Abroad section on the university’s website at www.adelphi.edu/study-abroad/.


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