Pros and Cons from a Dual City Study Abroad
Should you Split your Study Abroad Semester between 2 Cities?
If other students are like me, they may have a difficult (let’s be honest, near impossible) time making choices. It can be the simplest of decisions like choosing between tacos and burritos, or of the more influential sort like where to go to college. A choice can be a blessing and a burden all at the same time, especially in abroad game. Whether it’s a degree requirement or a college bucket list item, studying abroad blesses students with giving the opportunity to live and learn in any great city of the world, while it burdens students with the dreaded task of choosing where on earth to go.
I was plagued with deciding between two perfect-for-summer cities in Spain: Seville and Barcelona. Upon researching the diverse cities and their respective cultures and programs I realized it was all too good to decide on one. I had to experience both places, so I spent June in southern Spain and July near the beach. This might not be the most popular option, so here are 7 pros and 3 cons to consider about dual city, back-to-back study abroad:
Pro 1: It’s an extended answer to the call of adventure.
Flying across the world to an unfamiliar city is an adventure in itself. To take things to the next level, why not live in two unfamiliar cities while away? Choosing both locations allows opportunities for experiencing double the amount of fun. The student also sees more of the world whilst going to two cities.
Pro 2: Speaking of seeing more of the world, you’ll go on more excursions.
Programs can provide weekend excursions to nearby towns with planned cultural activities and sightseeing tours. These weekends can include seeing painted masterpieces in museums, guided walking tours through market streets, and free time with peers to explore all the suggested must-see’s and do’s.
Pro 3: Time management skills will be improved
There are a number of options for term length, from 3 weeks to a year, making it doable to study in more than one city. It is vital, then, to plan time spent in each place wisely. Students want to see everything in each city; from tourist attractions to local, hidden gems. Travelers might feel the need to complete TripAdvisor lists, but ditching this to take suggestions from locals is sometimes the best way to go. The prepared study abroad student will be more aware of the forthcoming end dates and consequently will be more intentional with their days.
Pro 4: You’ll immerse yourself in more than just one city
To truly immerse oneself in the cities will take some time, but if purposeful about it daily one can learn to live like a local in both. After a week of walking around, asking questions, and doing some research, the ebb and flow of the city will start to unfold. Local news will be discussed, the shortest walking routes will be discovered, the best time to visit a museum will be known, and the favorite cafes for a quiet coffee break will be differentiated from that for the hippest gelato shop.
Con 1: There’s never enough time
It is arguable that shortening time in a city will diminish the student’s ability of true immersion. Shorter programs can mean the student has to pick and choose their most anticipated activities without really getting to know the city. In turn, a longer period of time will allow one to step back and appreciate the city without being on the go. The depth of immersion is all relative based on each student’s desires, though.
Pro 5: You’ll learn the different cultures within the country.
One main reason students study abroad is to experience another culture. The uniqueness of living in two places during a student’s time abroad will be evident from the habits, cuisine, accents, and even ways of living one will have adopted after experiencing each city’s culture. A cool benefit from experiencing two different cultures while abroad is the real world knowledge gained that compares and contrasts different regions within a country. Most people can easily point out the differences in culture of their home city to their abroad city. To know intricate details of what makes multiple places within the same region abroad exactly what they are is something for the ever inquisitive and always searching, the person who will put in that extra effort.
Con 2: You’ll compare the cultures of both cities
The trouble with leaving the first city for the second is the possibility of preferring the former, thus comparing it to the latter. The saying “comparison is the thief of joy” is a helpful reminder if this occurs. On the plus side, if the cities are drastic opposites, it will be an incomparable self-learning experience about the types of cities one can or can’t develop and flourish in (something very important to know before graduating college and moving on to a job).
Pro 6: You’ll get to meet more new people.
Double the cities means double the friends, right? Understanding that the extent of this statement depends on your personality, it is still no less true if you are a shy introvert. Each program is full of students who will bond over presentations, weekend trips, and fun nights out on the town. These are the people who experience living a foreign life together. Forming lasting relationships with double the amount of directors, fellow students, host families, and locals is one of the most rewarding outcomes of going to two cities.
Con 3: You have to leave new people.
The only sad moment of study abroad is the last night because it entails goodbyes. However, if students’ time is spent well getting to know their peers and enjoying the city together, the end will be less bitter and more sweet. One will find that flying away from one group of friends simply means flying towards another group of friends.
Pro 7: You’ll learn how to adapt to change.
From experiencing two different programs in two different cities comes the realization of how one reacts and subsequently deals with change. It is possible to have a program end on one day and have the next program begin later that same day, or the two programs can be weeks apart. Getting from City #1 to #2 with varying lengths of time will teach the student real world skills such as working with change and adapting to one’s environment. This discipline is necessary in all aspects of life, but is most fulfilled in travels.