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Davis, California

Friday, July 19, 2024

Is studying abroad worth it?

An enriched perspective vs. high costs — A balanced overview of this college experience according to UC Davis students


By KACEY CHAN — features@theaggie.org 


During freshman orientation, one of the most common questions asked during the small talk phase between potential friends is, “Are you thinking of studying abroad?” In movies and coming-of-age shows, fresh-faced 18-year-olds are seen traveling to Europe to have whirlwind romances and go to clubs in countries with lower drinking ages. But is studying abroad really worth it?

Some may consider studying abroad a pillar of the college experience, and global education can be extraordinarily valuable for college students. Sheyenne White, a fourth-year political science major, studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom and traveled to Italy to study Italian language. 

 “Going abroad definitely builds humility as you deal with many humbling experiences,” White said. “It teaches self-sufficiency and builds character.”

White said she was able to enhance her experience abroad through careful planning.

“It’s important to plan ahead and do your research,” White said. “I was able to complete four major requirements in London and fulfill Davis’s core language requirements in the other. I actually saved time by completing a year’s worth of Italian in 17 weeks.” 

Many students agree that studying abroad is beneficial, especially as our world becomes increasingly globalized. A poll conducted by CIEE, a non-profit that helps college students study abroad, found that 91% of students believe they are more aware of global issues because of their experiences abroad. 

Students who have not had the opportunity also emphasized the importance of global education.

“It teaches a greater appreciation for other cultures, and I’m sure you can gain that independence from the identity you are tethered to back home,” said Tori Hata, a fourth-year biology major at UC Davis. 

Isabella C., who requested her last name be excluded from the article, is a second-year aerospace engineering major. She also acknowledged the value of studying abroad, even for students in scientific fields who may not think it’s valuable for their degree. 

“It is important especially to have multiple perspectives when studying anything,” Isabella said. “A lot of STEM majors think it’s useless, but everything is interconnected, and it is important to include that in an education.”

However, some students are hesitant to go abroad because they don’t think the experience will be worth the difficult planning process. 

“It does seem like a lot of fun but […] it requires a lot of research, which makes me falter,” Hata said. “I’m a biology major, so there aren’t a lot of classes in the places I would want to go to.”

Money is also a major concern for students when deciding whether to go abroad. 

“I haven’t actively thought about study abroad mainly because of the cost,” Isabella said. “I assume it would be difficult for financial aid and I would consider it more if I knew of grants.”

According to the UC Davis study abroad website, the school recommends that students who study abroad should start the financial planning process six months to a year before enrollment.

The question of how many students are ultimately able to go is, perhaps, an important one. Statistically speaking, the largest demographic of college students who study abroad are wealthy, white women studying the social sciences. 

However, White firmly believes that the study abroad experience isn’t only for this typical audience, and is even an ambassador herself for CEA CAPA — a non-profit that caters to students studying abroad.

“You should talk to your financial aid advisors, apply to grants and work,” White said. “I paid for everything myself, and I was luckily able to receive the Gilman [Scholarship] and I worked jobs as well to save. When I had gone, I was surprised to see things were more affordable than I had realized.”

White said that one of her key takeaways from studying abroad was the cultural immersion. 

“I left with a richer, more expanded perspective,” White said.


Written by: Kacey Chan — features@theaggie.org