Studying Abroad

I get a lot of emails from students who are contemplating studying abroad. They ask me a whole spectrum of questions from where to go, to the costs, to how hard classes are, to the experience they can expect. I am always happy to reply because studying abroad in college changed my life and it is something that I am a huge proponent of. The place you choose to study is up to you based on what you’re looking for in both the school curriculum (how it relates to your interests and your degree) and the city in which you choose to live for a certain period of time-whether it be a semester, a year or more. There are many options and you don’t have to go through the school you are doing your undergraduate work at and should in fact look at other choices. This can be good to meet new people from other schools or simply to increase your options.

I chose to study in London and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. If you’ve ever read my “About Lee Abbamonte” page I mention that and I can’t even express how much fun I had and the exciting experiences I had in London and throughout Europe would prove to lay a nice foundation for the rest of my life and for all of my future travels.

I chose London because I thought it was the best place for me to go. In fact, at the time I didn’t even know there were many other options as I knew a few people from school who had gone to London and one of my best friends was going as well. I went in Fall 1998 which was before the Internet was really big and I didn’t have the access to different programs that they have today.

Today you can easily go to programs on all continents. I have gotten emails from people studying abroad in Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Prague, Sydney and Tokyo. That’s a lot of options and a very exciting thing for college students to take advantage of. If I was still in school, I would be chomping at the bit to go to multiple places for multiple semesters.

One of my best friends always says that his only regret is that he didn’t study abroad. Needless to say he has made up for it over the past decade with extensive travel but now he is looking to go to Business School so he can study abroad which I think is great.

The only negative nowadays that I can see are the soaring costs of studying abroad because of the weakness of the US Dollar. Especially in Europe, whether in the UK or in the Euro Zone, Americans are at a severe disadvantage with the exchange rate and will undoubtably push students over budget. This is a great reason to examine other options in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Think about expanding your minds and trying to something completely out of the box. It’s a great way to see the world and experience a new culture and land. I promise that you will enjoy and cherish your experience and it will stay with you the rest of your life. There is barely a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on some point of my abroad experience and I am thankful everyday that I decided to break the mold of college life and go abroad.

I understand that some college degree programs don’t allow for their students to go abroad if they want to graduate on time and I also understand that athletes have a difficult time getting a way as well. There are options for extreme situations like this and they are summer and winter sessions abroad whether it be a school session or just living abroad. My sister did this in London over a winter and she loved it. Other friends of mine did summer sessions in Florence and assorted other places. The common thread between everyone I know who has been abroad is that everyone got something positive out of it and cherish their experiences.

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  1. Agreed, one of my biggest regrets was not going abroad my junior year in college. I am slowly in the process of making up for it.

  2. Hey lee, thanks for writing that article and responding to my email. I will let you know where I decide to go. Thanks again!

  3. No problem Stephanie and Baumer you are off to a good start

  4. I was supposed to spend a semester of my junior year in Buenos Aires, but 2 weeks prior to departure the Argentine economy collapsed (early 2002) and the program was cancelled. I ended up turning it into a positive by saving up some more money and spending my entire senior year in Madrid.

    One recommendation – while it is tempting to want to travel around every weekend (especially in Europe), it really takes away from immersing yourself in city/country you are in. Try to use the winter, spring, or summer break for extensive travel, and take the occasional weekend to explore nearby areas or cities. Try not to think of your study abroad city as a home base, and you’ll get alot more out of the experience.

  5. I did my study abroad in Salamanca, Spain. It was my first time outside of the U.S. and a HUGE life changer for me as well! I did the whole nine, went to school during the day and traveled on the weekends. My host family was AMAZING! I think it’s such an important part of the college experience I actually started a study abroad fund for my nephew the day he was born.

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