Choosing between a year vs. a semester when considering studying abroad
This seems to be a pretty big debate when students are considering studying abroad. Let me just say now, although a year may be long, a semester is just too short, and therefore a year is the better option. I’ve found that the longer I’m abroad, the greater the academic, cultural and personal benefits I’ve gained. By living in another country for 9-10 months, you will become more involved in the local scene and get a better feel for the knowledge of the culture.
A semester is just too short, especially when most universities in Europe don’t begin the school year until late September. That leaves you with 3 months to get acclimated, travel, and still get your work done – no matter how much you probably won’t go to class – before you’re back on a plane headed home.
I guess there are a few positives to studying abroad for just a semester, and for those of you that have no other choice, here they are. Because you’re only going to be abroad for 3-4 months, you can splurge a lot more than those people studying for a year. They have to take your budget and stretch it out for another 4-5 months. So don’t be afraid to spend. You’ll also be more apt to take advantage of opportunities much quicker than year abroad students. I have 9 months here in Scotland, so I tend to put things off because I know I can do them at a later date – hopefully that doesn’t come back to bite me.
Plain and simple, a semester is too short.
Studying abroad for a year is the much better option if you have that option. I’ve realized that it takes almost 3 months just to adjust to a new school, and if your only there for a semester, you’ll be gone just as you finally become comfortable.
You’ll also have twice the time to travel, including a massive inter-semester break. While you may have to be more frugal so you can make your money last, I have a feeling you’ll still be able to visit more places than if you were only abroad for a semester. And, you’ll actually be able to hang around your abroad university and experience the weekend life every now and then, instead of being gone every Saturday and Sunday traveling.
You’ll have more time to be with your friends as well. You’ll undoubtedly meet a lot of new people, and you’ll probably want to spend more than 5 weeks with them.
Since you’re going to be in a country for a full year, employers in the area are much more likely to hire you for a part-time job, seeing as they won’t lose you a few weeks after they train you. And on the topic of working, I’m pretty sure it looks more impressive to future employers to see that students have been abroad for a year instead of a semester.
Being away from home for 9-10 months vs. 3-4 months will also require you to become much more independent. You’ll gain life skills that will allow you to live on your own that you just can’t develop when you know that you’ll be home in just 3 months (if you’re only abroad for a semester).
It’s definitely tough being gone for a whole year. You’re going to miss your friends and family, and you’re probably going to be out of the loop on a lot of things when you get home. That’s about the only negative I can come up with. So think hard if you’re on the fence, and the best advice I can give you is that a year abroad is the way to go.
If you have any other questions or comments please feel free to leave them below and I’ll get back to you!