The Hardest Parts Of Studying Abroad That No One Talks About
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The 5 Hardest Parts Of Studying Abroad That No One Talks About

Because as fun as it is, it's not all glitz and glamour.

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The 5 Hardest Parts Of Studying Abroad That No One Talks About

This past fall semester, I had the opportunity to travel to Madrid, Spain to study abroad. While it was the experience of a lifetime that I wouldn't change for the world, there were some challenges I faced that I did not anticipate. Although they are small prices to pay for such an incredible journey, it is important to remember that life abroad isn't a fantasy land and there will be difficulties you will have to overcome.

1. You actually have to study and go to class!

Balancing school and a social life is already hard enough on campus. It's even harder abroad because you have to do all this work on top of a crazy busy schedule where you are probably traveling all the time. For some people, classes abroad are super easy "joke" classes.

However, for me and many of my friends, this was not the case. I actually spent quite a lot of time studying and writing papers, and making free time to do this wasn't always easy. During the week, I would go from a full day of classes to having dinner with my host mom, which often lasted over an hour.

As for the weekends, I was often traveling. To travel in the cheapest way, my roommate and I would leave Thursday nights and come back Monday mornings. On weekends like these, I would bring my suitcase to classes on Thursday so we could go straight to the airport and go right to classes when we'd arrive back on Monday.

This left little free time to do homework and study. There were days where I didn't want to go to class, but the attendance policy for my school was very strict so skipping just wasn't an option. Students might forget that there is the word "study" in study abroad. It is not one long party all semester, unfortunately.

2. It can be lonely at times.

I loved my study abroad experience. I met a lot of new people and had so many great times. However, it can be hard for some people to be so far away from friends and family. Because of my crazy schedule and the time difference, it was often hard to Facetime people from home and have long conversations.

Although I was lucky enough to be roommates with one of my best friends, who was so supportive, there are times when I just wanted my mom. For instance, there were a couple times that I got sick when I was abroad, and it would've been nice to be home or to be able to talk to my friends and family more. Many of my friends who were traveling with me had similar experiences. It's ok to be homesick!

3. It’s expensive.

Ok, so you made it to the country you are studying in which is great. But the flight there and the tuition are not the only costs. While you can definitely get through a semester on campus with a few hundred dollars, to truly have a full abroad experience you need thousands. I knew this ahead of time, so I spent the summer before I went saving.

Although traveling throughout Europe is cheap, when you are doing it frequently, it adds up fast. If you don't plan well, you can end up spending a lot more than necessary. Using Airbnb and budget airlines were great options, but sometimes they came with unforeseen costs. For instance, some of these budget airlines had very strict size requirements for carry-on baggage, which sometimes resulted in having to pay extra fees. I traveled about every-other weekend.

While of course you do not have to do this, and you CAN make study abroad work on a tighter budget, I strongly recommend saving as much as possible because this is an opportunity of a lifetime that makes traveling to many places very easy and much more affordable.

In addition to traveling, there are of course other costs such as food, drinks, nightclubs, shopping, and entrance to museums and other sites. Don't spend all your money right away-- trust me, you will need it, and a lot more of it than you may think!

4. You don’t have unlimited freedom.

I loved my host mom; she was so sweet. But, there are rules when you live with a host family. My school gave us a list of these rules, which included what times you can and can't do things like shower or talk on the phone. Dinner was also at around the same time every night, and we were expected to sit there and talk! For hours! I know weird, right? Back home, I am used to a fast-paced, quick dinner.

While it is nice sometimes, dinner in Spain is usually late. With limited time to get everything done, this often stressed me out, but I didn't want to be rude and just get up from the table. I also had to make plans around when I was expected to be home. Other students who stayed in dorms also had rules such as certain hours that guests were and weren't permitted. While you may think study abroad is a free-for-all, I can promise you that it is not.

5. It’s exhausting.

People think that because you are abroad, you shouldn't be complaining about anything. Life is supposed to be perfect and great, after all! And while I recognize that it is such an amazing privilege and something that not everyone gets to do, you're still human. Traveling every weekend sounds fun, but rushing to airports, running around to hit all the tourist spots in the freezing cold, and constantly being on the go---it gets tiring.

And while you may want to see 10 different countries while you are abroad and see absolutely everything, don't feel bad if it isn't possible to do every single thing you wanted to. Sleep and rest are so important, and they are often neglected while abroad. If you can't hit every sight in Rome, it's ok! If you have to stay in on a night where everyone is going out, it's ok! I am the type of person that always has major FOMO, but sometimes I had to let that go because my body just needed a break.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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