Study Abroad: Pros and Cons, Programs

I think almost everyone has dreamt of studying in another country: having an unforgettable experience, meeting kindred spirits, and immersing themselves in the atmosphere of student life like they do in the movies. Indeed, it is impossible to deny the value of such experiences, career prospects after graduation, and much more. As someone who is currently a foreign student in the U.S.A., I really want to share my small discoveries with you and tell you more about what you will have to go through on the way to receiving the coveted letter of admission to a foreign university!

Studying. Credit: Thought Catalog on Unsplash

There are so many advantages to studying abroad! To begin with, it is often possible to find specialties abroad that do not exist in our country (at least you can be undecided, which seems very cool to me!). Also, the education system abroad may suit some people more than the Russian one: a different assessment system, motivation, and work format.

Talking about disadvantages, first of all studying abroad is incredibly expensive and it requires a lot of effort and patience: collecting documents, getting a visa, booking flights, finding accommodation, buying meals, and paying tuition fees. Nowadays, mandatory vaccination and PCR tests are often added to this list (it is important to remember that not all countries accept Sputnik V). Speaking of more trivial things, a different climate and food will also be a small test for a person who has decided to become a foreign student. But the most difficult part for many people will be separation from family, friends, and loved ones. Moreover, if you take academic mobility you should be prepared to study at two universities at the same time, deal with overlapping classes, exams, and time differences (for example, the time difference between Eastern Time (ET)and Moscow Standard Time is 8 hours, and in winter it’s 9).

Mid-Manhattan Library, NYC, US. Credit: Robert Bye on Unsplash
Mid-Manhattan Library, NYC, US. Credit: Robert Bye on Unsplash

As I mentioned earlier, studying in another country is wonderful, but also expensive. However, there is a solution! There are many programs that can help you get a scholarship and full tuition coverage in another country, not only for a bachelor’s degree but also for a master’s and PhD. Here are a few of them: YEAR Program, Global UGRAD, Erasmus+, Fulbright, and DAAD. Besides those, there is a widely known program called "Work and Travel USA" - a summer program of cultural exchange for citizens of Russia and Kazakhstan. Also, in case you do not want to study abroad but are very interested in living in another country for a few months with full payment for accommodation and meals, I would advise paying attention to volunteering! A vivid example is "AIESEC", but there are a number of similar programs!

I can say that the path to studying abroad may seem difficult and sometimes incomprehensible, but it's worth it! I advise you to find friends who are also passionate about this topic, because support and understanding are very important, especially when it comes to such a significant decision as moving, even temporarily, to another country. Apart from that, what is always important in applications for the programs and scholarships listed above is a good resume. Start earning achievements now: participate in conferences, volunteer a lot, make progress in your career field. Also, there is a person on Instagram @yul.po (in Russian) who talks a lot about exchange programs, about writing motivation letters and resumes, and just shares her experience, which is also helpful!

I don’t want to say that opportunities to study abroad should be taken unequivocally. As we already understood, there are also a lot of disadvantages, which can be too much for some people. And if you really understand that it's not for you, don't torture yourself. If you really want to get this experience, but you doubt that you are prepared for it, then just remember that sometimes you need to go through difficult trials to become yourself. Being away from everything you know can be painful, but it will bring you closer to yourself and you will never regret your decision. Talking about me, I am so happy to get the opportunity to spend the whole academic year abroad; I’ve never felt more right about a choice. It seems daunting and maybe even scary, but it's worth it!

Bachelor's student