Busting myths of study abroad

 By Lauren Pinkston

My time abroad is already halfway over. It feels like just yesterday I was counting down the days until my departure with much anticipation and a bit of fear but living abroad for the past two months has shown me how simple it is to live in another country. It is much more doable than I ever imagined. There are many assumptions made and enforced by our parents, peers and society that make living abroad seem out of reach. Here are five myths about studying abroad:

  1. Myth: Studying abroad is out of my price range.

Fact: It’s not as expensive as you think. For many, studying abroad is about the same price as studying at Dominican (or less if you are a commuter). All of your current financial aid applies to the program fees and there are additional scholarships and grants available. I ended up getting my entire program covered by financial aid and I even got some money back from scholarships. Talk to a financial aid advisor to see how you can make studying abroad more affordable.

  1. Myth: I won’t be able to take the classes I need to graduate if I study abroad.

Fact: Dominican has general education requirements such as history, art, science, theology, social science, philosophy and literature. Just about every study abroad program offered at Dominican has courses in these general subjects. You can even take care of your foreign language credits while abroad—how cool would it be to learn German while drinking pints in Austria? Additionally, some programs offer courses geared at popular majors such as business or science. The program in Limerick, Ireland has a wide variety of courses because you go to school at the University of Limerick. I am able to take classes that are applicable to my journalism degree. They offer courses for a wide variety of majors from equine science to sports medicine.

  1. Myth: I can’t be away from my family and friends for a whole semester.

Fact: Of course, you will miss your family and friends but not as much as you think. Studying abroad is a high-action activity. You’ll be so busy traveling, exploring, taking part in new experiences and making new friends that you won’t have time to worry about affairs back home. You’ll bond to these new friends so quickly that you’ll wonder how you ever went through life without them. Additionally, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook and other social networking sites make communicating with family and friends incredibly simple and manageable.

  1. Myth: You can only study abroad if you know a foreign language.

Fact: I only speak English and I am doing just fine. Dominican offers multiple programs in countries that speak primarily English, including England, Ireland, and South Africa. Additionally, you can get by with just English in many other European countries. While abroad, I’ve travelled to France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Croatia and I have plans to travel some more. I have had no problems communicating with locals because most of them, especially the younger generation, have been learning English since primary school.

  1. Myth: Europeans dislike Americans.

Fact: As long as you’re respectful, they will love you. I have made friends with Irish students, French, Spanish, English, Belgian, German, Swedish and more! Many Europeans don’t understand the pride we have for our country (and with the current state of our politics, economy and pop culture, who can blame them?) but they are open-minded and very quick to pick your brain on all things American.

Now that I know how easy it is to plan and adapt to life abroad, I have dreams swirling in my head of studying abroad in South Africa next year and maybe attending graduate school in India. Additionally, knowing that I tackled this challenge, I feel incredibly confident about the challenges I will face in my future.

pinklaur@my.dom.edu

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