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Study Abroad Myths

Misinformation keeps many students from considering studying abroad each year. Below are some of the most common myths students believe about studying abroad.

  1. Studying Abroad is too expensive.
    Reality: Study abroad is an investment in your future and your career. Study Abroad appeals to students for adventure and fun. However, the bottom line is that in this era of globalization, you can't afford NOT to go!

    SIUE offers more than 200 study abroad programs that range in cost. Some programs are more expensive than others; some are very comparable to the cost of studying at SIUE. The cost of study abroad depends on various factors, and these should be taken into consideration as you select the program that is right for you. These factors include the type of study program, duration of program, world region and cost of living in host country/city, exchange rates, etc. There are a variety of ways to pay for studying abroad including scholarships and financial aid (including student loans and some grants). Take some time to consider your funding options before you decide you can't go. By planning ahead you can speak with your family about financial restrictions, as well as save for your time abroad.
  2. Financial aid doesn't transfer to study abroad.
    Reality: The programs listed on this site have been approved by SIUE, which allows most financial aid to apply to study abroad. There are also a number of scholarships set up specifically for studying abroad.
  3. It is necessary to speak a foreign language to study abroad.
    Reality: While some programs do have a foreign language requirement, many programs are taught exclusively in English or offer select courses taught in English. Some of these programs are taught in countries where English is an official language (Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, and India). Other programs offer select courses taught in English specifically for visiting U.S. study abroad students. These kinds of programs allow any student to immerse themselves in a non-English speaking culture while taking courses taught in English. To find programs taught in a specific language - such as English - specify a "Language of Instruction" when searching for programs.
  4. Studying abroad will delay graduation.
    Reality: Many students who study abroad graduate as planned. Students can earn SIUE credit toward SIUE undergraduate degree requirements for most courses taken abroad including major, minor, general education and general elective requirements. With careful planning, students can easily stay on track with graduation. Read the " Study Abroad, Graduate on Time" article in Inside Higher Ed which links study abroad with on time graduation.
  5. I can always travel abroad after graduation.
    Reality: Easier said than done. For most people it is difficult to find time after graduation to study or travel in another country for any length of time. College is a unique time that allows for a summer, semester or sometimes even a year studying abroad. After graduating, most people find that the demands of work, family and other responsibilities prevent them from spending significant time abroad. Most people have a difficult time getting extended time off from work and find it impossible to afford unpaid vacation time because of long-term financial responsibilities: a car, rent payments or a mortgage, credit cards and family responsibilities, for example. In addition, traveling as a tourist is a very different experience from living and studying in a foreign culture. As a tourist, you will typically be seen as an outsider. When you live in a foreign culture and participate in its day-to-day life, you become immersed in the culture.
  6. Studying abroad will not help my career.
    Reality: A study abroad experience will enhance your employability because employers increasingly seek graduates who have international experience. International knowledge, cross-cultural communication skills, flexibility, resilience and the ability to adapt to new circumstances are skills enhanced through study abroad that are important to employers in various fields. Businesses are increasingly growing into international companies and utilizing skills from a study abroad experience gives potential employees an edge that others lack. Numerous SIUE students have found that an effective presentation of a meaningful study abroad experience sets them apart from their peers in career endeavors after graduation.

    According to a June 2007 article in the Going Global newsletter, global executives say that "study abroad boosts employability," and here are a few reasons why:
    • Three out of 4 executives cite study abroad as important when evaluating candidates for junior-level positions.
    • Eight in 10 human resource (HR) executives surveyed believed that a study abroad experience was an important factor for overseas job placement within their companies.
    • Two-thirds (67 percent) of HR executives surveyed said that a study abroad experience within a culturally diverse student environment distinguishes a job candidate.

    See the AIFS Guide to Study Abroad and Career Development for more on potential career implications of study abroad.

  7. It is difficult to get accepted to study abroad.
    Reality: Most of the students who meet the minimum qualifications and complete the application process on time are accepted to study abroad. Increasing the number of undergraduate students who study abroad is a priority for SIUE, and the Study Abroad Office will work closely with students to find the program that best meets their needs and qualifications. See application deadlines for more information.
  8. If you study abroad you have to go for a whole semester.
    Reality: SIUE study abroad programs vary widely in duration. In fact, the largest number of students choose to study abroad over the summer term. There are shorter faculty-led programs of 10 days - 2 weeks, month long programs and others that span 6 - 8 weeks of summer. We also send students on semester long and academic year programs. Students may want to start with a short term or summer program, especially if they have a less flexible academic schedule or are apprehensive about a full semester abroad. Often, students who go abroad for a shorter summer program come back full of enthusiasm to study abroad again the next summer or sometimes even for a full semester. Students who have studied abroad will tell you to study abroad for as long as you can, because it will change your life!
  9. All programs are alike, so I just need to pick my favorite country.
    Reality: This couldn't be more wrong. There are many types of study abroad programs designed to meet the wants and needs of all kinds of students in terms of academics, structure, housing, extra-curricular activities, field trips and excursions. Some are better suited for students who have some prior international experience while others are appropriate for students with little or no prior international experience. All programs are not alike and they vary in many ways including courses offered, language of instruction, supportive on-site staff or limited on-site support, available housing, semester start and end dates and duration, program fees, opportunities to interact with locals, extracurricular activities and so much more. Some of these variables are dependent on the foreign academic system, others are dependent on the specific foreign university, while others are culturally dependent.

So, do your research! Also, let the Study Abroad Office help you narrow your choices and provide additional firsthand insight into your programs of interest. 

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