North Texas Daily

Believe it or not, studying abroad is not impossible

Believe it or not, studying abroad is not impossible

Believe it or not, studying abroad is not impossible
June 22
19:10 2017

Andy Chao | Contributing Writer

A recent North Texas Daily column implied studying abroad was only available to a small demographic of students, pointing to the financial struggles and logistical hurdles one must overcome to participate in a program abroad.

My name is Andy Chao, a first generation, middle-class Asian-American student born in Texas. In my junior year, I participated in a study abroad exchange program with the University of Surrey. I’m here to say that studying abroad is not as unachievable as many may make it out to be.

The semester I spent abroad was honestly the best time of my life. As cheesy as it sounds, going abroad changed me. I now have a better grasp on the world, and it has completely influenced my post-graduate prospects. It was an extremely worthwhile experience, and I don’t believe there’s any equivalent here at home.

Why did I study abroad? Well, why not? I figured if I was going to be crunching numbers for the rest of my degree in Denton, why not do a bit of it in another country?

The biggest issue regarding studying abroad is money, no doubt. While yes, my program was more expensive than staying at UNT for a semester, it wasn’t an astronomical hit to my finances.

Here’s the cost comparison between a conservative semester here and my semester abroad. Let’s assume a semester is five months.


Rent@ $550/mo
= $2750
Groceries@ $40/wk
= $640
Surrey (£1 = $1.25)

Rent (Band C)@ £99.50/wk ≈ $497.50/mo

£1833.64 ≈ $2292.05

Groceries@ £20/wk
≈ $500
Application Fee$100
Confirmation Fee$200
Passport (New)$135
Travel≈ $1350

It’s worthy to note that the financial aid I normally received was able to be put towards my program abroad. The Study Abroad Office offers numerous scholarships exclusive to students going abroad. I was able to receive two, totaling to $1,800, for simply applying and participating. Andy Chao.

After financial aid and scholarships, here’s the difference I had to cover:


Financial Aid$6304

Financial Aid$8104.00

An additional $1401.46 to spend on the semester in Surrey compared to UNT, which is not an impossible number. A part-time job that pays $9 an hour for 40 hours per week will cover the difference in little under a month. However, if we exclude the $1,350 that was spent for three weeks of travel over Christmas around Europe to the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland and France, then the cost of attending Surrey is only about $100 more than UNT.

The Study Abroad Office at UNT recommends an entire year to prepare for good reason. Arrangements must be made between advisers and departments to ensure credits are properly allocated toward graduation. Securing living situations after getting back is also imperative to continue education at UNT. Also, there are many, many emails.

But it’s worth it. At Surrey, I made friends from around the world and forged unforgettable memories with them. Now if I want to travel abroad, I have places and friends to visit. I now have friends in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Canada, Russia, Greece, Cyprus and of course, the United Kingdom.

Going abroad has helped me figure out who I am and what I really want to do with my life. It was worth everything I put into it.

I didn’t know what exactly I was getting into when I started the study abroad process, but I soon figured out and conquered every hurdle presented to me. I was able to have the time of my life and make incredible memories. Hitchhiking in the French Alps, the morning after a snowstorm with our Airbnb host, is a story I’ll tell at campfires to come.

Studying abroad is not impossible. Instead of thinking how much trouble it’s going to be going abroad, think about how these obstacles can be beaten and the reward waiting at the end. It is completely worth the struggle, and a life changing experience available to everyone.

Don’t miss out, see the world.

Featured Image: Andy Chao, Kritik Patel, Lorea Diez de Ulzurrun, Alba Moreno González, Ally Haque, Fèlix Rodríguez Jerez and Cristina del Burgo all studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. Andy Chao.

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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