The 'honeymoon stage' are the first initial thoughts of living in another country traveling: interesting food, places, and thrills... Then the challenging factors start weighing in: speaking a foreign language, budgeting, leaving your boyfriend for 5 months etc... and you realize what hard work and commitment it will take to actually go through the process of studying abroad. Many put up a front and say, "I can't afford to travel". But I'm here to tell you this... College students can't afford NOT to travel.
1. You're not tied down, so TRAVEL!
In 5-10 years (or less) you very well may be buying a house, getting married, and possibly having children... And as excited as you may be about your career, there's the reality of no more summer vacations and having a job where vacation for more than a week or two isn't an option.
College is the perfect time to go overseas, and very well may be your last chance to, at least for a longer period of time. Never again will a chance come for you to have such means to travel in flexibility with money, resources, and most of all, time. Studying abroad is an opportunity to travel wherever you want, however much you want, for however long you want. It just doesn't get better than that.
I had this mentality when I studied abroad in England last semester and traveled to 15 countries on a budget. Speaking of which...
2. Studying abroad is the optimal time to become budget-savy.
This means cutting back on costs like shopping, gym memberships, eating out, coffee (I know it's painful), and any other unnecessary expenses. Stating it bluntly, if budgeting is intimidating to you (unless you're rolling in cash) studying abroad may not be for you.
I have my share of weaknesses and clothing sales tempt me more than anything, Yesterday while I was supposed to be "window" shopping at Anthropologie I found myself falling in love with a $20 cardigan. In my moment of weakness, my thoughts then went to my study abroad fund. I backed away from the clothes and went out the door thinking of the clothing and souvenirs I may find in England that will mean five times more to me.
When budgeting gets hard (and it will I promise) I remind myself that I'm saving for an experience of a lifetime. Five full months I learned about culture, history, and communicating in a different country is worth slowing your spending a year or two in advance.
As a college student, you don't have to be rich to travel. There are plenty of low budget options in Europe to make your money go twice as far while traveling. That's also what scholarships are for. These can be transferable when studying abroad- and that's money in your pocket. Not to mention you'll be applicable for many other scholarships depending on the country and your major. You can also look at studying at a Partner Program and pay your home university's tuition instead of the college that you'll be studying at abroad. This strategy was more affordable in my case because the tuition in the UK is much more than in the US. Both universities benefit from having campuses with different cultures present through their exchange programs.
3. Studying abroad will set you apart for future jobs and internship applications.
No other experience will serve you like studying abroad will. Not only will you be having the time of your life but you'll be gaining marketable skills for the workforce. Any future boss looking at studying abroad on a resumé will see you as an individual of versatility and value.
They'll see a potential employee that is willing to challenge themselves, do the extraordinary, and go the extra mile. While abroad my communication and variety of skills improved tremendously from the different courses I took and all the international students I lived with. Spending a semester in a foreign country opens your mind to the world around you through first handedly experiencing situations you would have never understood otherwise.
4. Challenges encountered on your travels boost your self-confidence.
Studying abroad is something you do for yourself and no one else. Traveling out of the country for an extended amount of time is intimidating in ways. It requires planning, financial preparation, and stepping out of your comfort zone. On your travels, you're bound to encounter challenges and things won't always be according to plan. All the while confidence in yourself will be growing tremendously. If you've read my post on the Perks of Planning you know that your organizational skills will benefit from making a travel itinerary and being independent.
Don't let being completely independent or being gone for a long period of time scare you. There's always other options to travel with faculty for a study (usually 1 month overseas), for a summer program taking 2-3 classes for 3 months, or do as I did this in the spring and study for 5 months or even a year abroad.
If you're even somewhat contemplating studying overseas, I've got one piece of advice for you... DO IT! You will never regret it and the best time is right now.