North Texas Daily

Studying abroad is not a necessity, it’s a luxury

Studying abroad is not a necessity, it’s a luxury

Studying abroad is not a necessity, it’s a luxury
June 06
17:00 2017

Amanda Dycus | Staff Writer

Most of us have at least one friend who spent a semester in France. They posted about it all over social media, gushed about the self-improvement it brought and pretended to know French for a month after they got back. Or maybe they went to Spain, Amsterdam or Germany while you stayed home. It seems like everyone is studying abroad nowadays and for those of us who don’t have the opportunity, the fear of missing out – or FOMO – is real.

According to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, less than 1 percent of college students in the United States actually get to study abroad. It also should be stated that over half of these students are white, and many of them live in New England, one of the most affluent regions of the country. You would never know this from glancing through Instagram, college brochures or BuzzFeed. Each one goes on and on about the benefits of studying abroad, and how it is a life-changing experience that improves your grades, your outlook and your chances of getting a job after graduation.

There are statistics that support these statements, too. The University of California at Merced states on their website that students are “twice as likely to find a job” if they study abroad, and almost all of them came back more mature.

While that’s all well and good, what about the other 99 percent of students? What about the students that truly can’t afford to study abroad?

Though the cost of tuition abroad varies only slightly from a traditional semester at UNT, there can be over $3,000 in out-of-pocket costs. The most overwhelming upfront cost is airfare, with tickets averaging around $1,500. Students generally spend more money while they’re abroad as well, especially if they’re studying in a European country. There are souvenirs to buy, weekend trips to take and trendy food to eat, so your savings deplete quickly over the course of a few months, without an instant way to replenish them.

Over 75 percent of college students hold part-time jobs while in school, and 43 percent manage to work full-time jobs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Maintaining an income isn’t possible while abroad, and many jobs would probably rather fire their employees than wait around for them to get back after three to six months. Students rely on these jobs to pay for school, rent, textbooks and et cetera. Without them, life can get very difficult.

When it comes to rent, you also have to consider what to do about your apartment when you’re gone. Do you continue paying for the months you aren’t there? Do you risk subletting, or terminating your lease? Do you go abroad as soon as your lease ends, and pray you can find a place as soon as you get back?

Studying abroad requires answering all these questions, and lots of thinking ahead. UNT recommends planning your trip a year in advance, which is reasonable, but also incredibly hard when you’re already drowning in stress from planning the next week. Students are more likely to study abroad if they know someone that has done so already, like a close friend or parent, so they have the bulk of information readily available.

UNT has meetings on most Mondays to discuss studying abroad, attempting to make the experience open to all students as much as possible. There are loans and scholarships students can apply for, but we all know how difficult obtaining those can be. As a last resort, UNT recommends holding a garage sale or selling arts and crafts to help fund your study abroad experience.

When scrolling through Facebook, it can feel like you’re the only person who hasn’t gone to Europe during college. You’re not. Studying abroad is a privilege, part of the “quintessential” college experience we’re force-fed to have. It is not a necessity or something you have to do, because sometimes you just can’t. No one should have to feel guilty for it or feel they missed out on something forever. Studying abroad is not the norm, so you are not alone.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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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1 Comment

  1. Arianna
    Arianna June 09, 10:29

    Extremely disappointed in this article. You could have mentioned Gilman Scholarship, Boren Scholarship, Critical Language Scholarship, Freeman-Asia Scholarship… there is so much money out there, what is holding students back should NOT be finance but rather the lack of knowledge of all the funding that exists. And your statement about “we know how hard those can be…” well the Boren Scholarship (worth $20k) would LOVE for you to apply because application numbers are lower than ever.

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