Cultural Experience | All Experiences

9 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad For A Year

If you want to study abroad, consider doing so for a full year.

Choosing to study abroad is becoming more and more common these days. However, most people still to choose to go abroad for only a summer or semester. Not nearly as many people choose to go for a whole year. Last year about this time, I made the daunting decision to leave to comfort of my small suburban liberal arts school to spend the year at a large university in one of the biggest cities in the world. And I haven’t once regretted my decision one bit. It’s been the most rewarding experience of my life and I am incredibly sad about leaving in June. If you’re considering studying abroad or pondering whether setting off for a year is for you, use this post to help convince you to make the [right] decision!

You won’t have FOMO

One of the reasons that was originally holding me back from studying abroad for a year was that I’d have serious FOMO. After all, my friends who studied abroad in the fall would return to campus in the spring and have all these fun experiences together. However, after some thinking, I realized that I would be spending my time in a vibrant city, going on numerous adventures around my city, country and continent, and embracing a once in a lifetime opportunity. Of course I miss my friends, but I have much less FOMO knowing that I’ve had so many amazing experiences.

Tower of London

Volunteering at the Tower of London Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation, commemorating the 888,246 British lives lost during World War I.

You’ll have the chance to really become a local at your favorite restaurants or coffee shops

I love feeling like a local when I go places. Nothing feels better than walking into a coffee shop and being greeted by the owner who immediately brings you your order as you hunker down for an afternoon of reading. Not to mention getting free cups of tea because you’ve gone through the rewards system so many times. This will inevitably happen to anyone who finds their favorite place studying abroad, but you’ll really thicken the bond if you stay for a year!


The perfect cup of tea

You can spend your weekends wandering around your host city and truly getting to know it instead of squeezing in trips every spare minute

One of the downfalls of studying abroad for a semester or a summer is that you feel the need to cram in trips around the continent every chance you get. This often leads you to neglect your host city during the weekend and not really get to know it as well as you should. If you study abroad for a year, you can truly get to know your host city without a set plan. Nothing is better than simply wandering and finding random, hidden things to brighten your day.


A cheerful art installation found during a day spent wandering

 You learn more about yourself and become more independent

When you study abroad you learn a lot about yourself, like how you react to culture shock or how you deal with stress when it comes to language gaps, travel problems, getting lost or extreme homesickness. Perhaps you learn that you like to travel alone, or maybe you like to take advantage of planned group trips. Maybe you find you that you have a knack for planning trips that take you across the continent or maybe you’re good at communicating with people who don’t speak your language(s). When you study abroad you a year, you’ll have many troubles but you’ll learn how to better deal with them and overcome things that might have originally set you back before. You’ll also discover more about yourself and learn how great it is to be pushed out of your comfort zone.

You’ll have time to take advantage of day trips around your host country

One of the great things about studying abroad for a year is that you can spend more time traveling whilst still getting to know your host city. I’ve taken advantage of day trips around England because my course schedule makes it hard to commit to weekend trips and I’ve really gotten to know and fall in love with the English culture. If you study abroad for a year, you can take these day trips over the weekend guilt free because you’ll still have time to explore other countries as well!


A day spent at Stonegenge

You’ll be attending a foreign university for at least half of the time, where you’ll have more time to really get to know and befriend the full time students

When you study abroad for a semester or a year, you are either with a group of other American students taking classes together or you’re only at your host university for a short amount of time. Local students aren’t especially keen to make friends with you if you’re only there for three months. When you study abroad for a year, you are fully immersed in the university culture and lifestyle and can actually befriend the full time students.

You’ll become fully immersed in your host culture

Whether it be learning to make the perfect cup of tea or learning a certain dialect or language, studying abroad immerses you in a completely different culture. When you study abroad for a year, you not only become accustomed to the different culture and overcome culture shock but you also accept the differences and possibly even adopt some of the host culture’s customs.

tea poster

The motto of England

Chances are, you’ll come back with some interesting stories

Everybody comes back with interesting stories to tell when they study abroad. If you study abroad for a year, the chance of crazy things happening to you increases exponentially. You’ll have so may wonderful stories to tell, like how you spent the night in a foreign city without a place to sleep or how you made friends while waiting for the New Years fireworks show on the banks of the Thames or how you celebrated Guy Fawkes Night in a park with thousands of other Londoners. The possibilities are endless.


Celebrating Bonfire Night with a fireworks show

You’ll show prospective employers that you are willing to take chances and commit to a full year and life of learning and change

Most employers look favorably on study abroad experience. Some jobs even require it. While any study abroad experience is incredibly valuable, studying abroad for a year shows employers that you can commit to your decisions and can leave your comfort zone as you embrace a completely new culture and walk of life for an extended period of time. It shows that you aren’t afraid of change and that you’re a true Global Citizen.


You will get to see more sunsets like this if you study abroad for a year

Committing to a full year away from family, friends, and the comforts of your home university is incredibly daunting, but it will pay off in the long run. You’ll experience homesickness and culture shock just like everyone else, but you’ll also become a true resident in your host city and have so many amazing experiences over the course of the academic year that you couldn’t have had at home. You’ll learn more about yourself, you’ll get to travel a lot more, and you’ll meet some amazing people and have some incredible experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise had. If you’re considering studying abroad, seriously consider doing so for a year. You won’t regret it!

Alex Mathews

Davidson College | 8 stories

Alex is a senior at Davidson College in North Carolina studying Political Science and French. She spent her junior year abroad at the London School of Economics and spent Summer 2014 abroad in Paris, where she visited 13 countries and 43 cities. In her free time she loves blogging at her personal site: , reading, planning dream trips, drinking tea, and exploring.

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