Traveling in college without doing study abroad

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Alexandra Paladian
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Study abroad is on the rise in colleges and universities. Everywhere I seem to look I see multiple opportunities to go overseas, which is great. When I began my higher education in a two-year college, I was determined to go study abroad. However, I discovered something even better, a program where you take a class throughout the semester at your home institution and then go on the adventure of traveling abroad for that class over a span of 10 days. I did this in my Spring 2019 semester by studying British literature and traveling to the United Kingdom. This travel option won me over immediately and it also worked well with my work schedule and other prior commitments. 

I wanted to share the insight I got, so let’s explore the three reasons why I choose to travel abroad instead of studying abroad and how it might benefit some students better, especially the ones that work part-time or full-time in the workforce.

The Cost

The biggest turn away for studying abroad is the cost that is associated with the program. Most students are either not able to afford the venture or not eager to let go of such a chunk of money for only a semester of study. I found that traveling abroad for a short time decreases the amount you pay and provides scholarship opportunities from the institution, unlike study abroad scholarships that are usually offered through an abroad company nationwide. Choosing to travel abroad directly through my community college meant I only had to pay half of the amount required because of the scholarship opportunities that I sought. Know you don’t have to pay a lot to go abroad if you just keep your eyes peeled for opportunities. 

The Time Commitment

The length of study abroad programs does vary based on the location and the semester, but it still requires a full commitment for that length of time. Some students might have the freedom to live in a different country for a whole semester, but most students might find it hard to ask off that long from their part-time or full-time jobs or other commitments. Traveling abroad is usually a shorter span, which is a lesser time to disconnect from your life at home. Going to Scotland and England for ten days was a flexible time frame for me because it allowed me to see a lot in a shorter period and it didn’t hinder my work schedule.

The Experience

This one will differ from student to student regarding studying abroad and traveling abroad because they provide different opportunities and perspectives. Some students prefer to venture off and embrace life abroad for a longer time, however, not everybody will be the same. I found within myself that I could not leave for that extended time because of the reasons above and that I was not ready yet to plunge into that prolonged experience. Moreover, traveling abroad offers that overseas experience without the long commitment from studying abroad and I found that beneficial in my undergraduate life.

Every student has a different path to their degree, which means that they can choose whether to study abroad or travel abroad. Personally, I loved traveling abroad because of those three reasons, and I am looking forward to traveling abroad again, this time to Moscow and St. Petersburg in May 2020. As I mentioned, I will be taking the class portion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and then I will travel to Russia afterward. I hope you found this article helpful in deciding on whether to venture off on a big adventure with study abroad or get a taste of the travel without the big-time commitment. Regardless, I wish you all safe travels!