The Eiffel TowerStudying abroad is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. It costs money, for one thing, and if you are not careful you might end up staying in school longer than you thought if the classes you need to take for graduation are not offered abroad. In addition, cultural differences mean that studying abroad can be nerve-racking if you don’t know what to expect.

Many universities have special resources that are available to help you choose a program abroad, and that help prepare you for actually living abroad. Utilize these resources as much as you can! If you are on the fence about whether or not to study abroad, try weighing the pros and cons.

There are many positive aspects to studying abroad, but one of the most relevant ones is that it is a great way to learn about other cultures, and a great way to master a new language. Speaking Spanish, French or Italian in the classroom is one thing, but speaking to Spanish, French and Italian people in their home setting is quite another. Not only will you learn the language in a much more detailed and profound way, but you will also learn about their culture and customs.

One negative aspect of studying broad that many people experience a profound sense of homesickness—especially those who have never traveled alone before, or who have never been away from their family for an extended amount of time. Fortunately, in our modern times, there are many different ways to stay connected to those we love, even overseas. Email, IM and Skype are just a few.

Although being away from home is difficult, it can also be seen as a rite of passage for many. By separating yourself from familiar surroundings, you will gain a new sense of independence, and may learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. New and challenging situations have a way of bringing out the best in us, and there are certain aspects of yourself that you cannot know unless you push yourself to the limit.

When it comes to your future career, studying abroad can definitely give you a boost. Traveling abroad looks great on your resume, as it shows that you are adaptable and mature—two qualities that will make you an attractive job candidate.  In addition, you will learn how to interact with people of different backgrounds, which, in today’s global economy, is imperative.

If you do decide to take the plunge and study abroad, you should be prepared to deal with some culture shock. This is completely normal, and something that you can overcome with guidance and support. Before enrolling in a study abroad program, you should ideally seek the counsel of an educational counselor at your university or college. This will also be helpful in assessing whether or not there will be any academic credit transfer issues ahead of you.