When to Study Abroad

So, I’ve been thinking long and hard on what time is the best time to study abroad. Like most others, I do believe it depends on the individual. But, here are some general tips:

I think for those wanting to attend Law School, the best time to study abroad would be sophomore year. As well, for those wanting to study for a whole year, I believe sophomore year is best as well. I understand that most people recommend junior year to study abroad, but I have to disagree. When you study abroad, you change more than you can imagine. I have only been abroad for three weeks and already I know I am changing (for the better!). Studying abroad (for most) is the first time you will be away from your home country. You will look back onto your customs and culture realizing its flaws and beauties.

As well, you will reflect upon yourself and realize more what you want to do with your life. I believe studying abroad, being thrust and immersed into a different environment, stresses us out to a point where reflection and new knowledge of oneself can really be reached. So, if you are to study abroad as a sophomore you may realize that your major is not the right choice for you, you may realize that you want to focus on a different path in life; this is good! But, since you decided to study abroad as a sophomore, you know and can further change your route in life.

I must say, however, studying as a junior or senior is not the wrong choice! Rather, college is merely a transition from the realm of childhood into the world of adults, so realizing late you want to change your major is fine. Not to worry, studying abroad, especially in an environment so opposite from your own, shocks you into the realization that so much is trivial. College is trivial compared to the grand scheme of life. There is so much you can do, and your ability to do so is not decided upon by your major.

In all, I believe the best time to study would be as a sophomore. You change, grow, and mature while studying abroad–this is reflected in your writings, essays, and outlook on life (college life more specifically). While studying later is not bad, I think it is best to do as a sophomore.

But, remember it truly does depend on the individual.  If I were in charge of our (the U.S’s) educational system I would make it mandatory to study abroad for a year at least. I believe, especially the States, lack a strong emphasis on language skills and living in another culture’s environment. Further, everyone can study abroad. I have talked to people (and I was one) who believed they might not be the right ‘type-of-person’ to study abroad. There is not ‘right type’. Yes, you may at first be completely shocked by the culture you are thrust into, but how you change and face the challenges you encounter will make you a type of person who can handle just about anything!


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