Unsure about studying abroad?

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Kelly Ryan

At some colleges, study abroad is a thriving program, Quinnipiac included. When I was exploring schools three years ago, taking that into consideration was important to me, and it was important to my parents too.

But as I’ve gotten older, and more involved on campus, I’ve been starting to question whether or not studying abroad is something worth pursuing.

With any decision, there are pros and there are cons. For many parents, the opportunity for their son or daughter to go abroad is a no brainer. Traveling to a foreign country for five months, being immersed in a new culture and meeting people from a different walk of life should be an easy decision.

I thought it would be, and it can be.

The number of American students going to other countries has nearly doubled since 2000, according to the 2014 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, an annual survey of study abroad trends by the Institute of International Education.

During the 2014-15 academic year, undergraduate participation in studying abroad skyrocketed; an estimated 83.7 percent of students at Pepperdine University in California studied abroad that year and an estimated 53.6 percent of students at Yale did so as well, according to the Institute of International Education.

There’s no denying that the program has become more and more popular for students all across the U.S.- and for good reason.

“Ninty-five percent of the students admitted that studying abroad served as a catalyst for increased maturity, 96 percent reported increased self-confidence, and 95 percent said it had a lasting impact on their worldview,” According to the survey conducted by the Institute for International Education of Students (IES) which evaluated personal, academic and career impacts of students who have studied abroad.

More than 50 percent of the respondents are still in contact with U.S. friends they met when studying abroad.

87 percent of the students said that study abroad influenced their subsequent educational experiences. Nearly half of all respondents took part in international work and/or volunteerism since studying abroad.”

As far as career advancements, “97 percent of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49 percent of college graduates found employment in the same period,” according to a survey conducted by IES on career benefits from studying abroad between 2012 and 2015.

There are plenty more statistics I could continue to rattle off about how beneficial studying abroad can be personally, academically and career wise.

However, with every advantage comes a disadvantage.

Going abroad means leaving the U.S., leaving parents, friends, relationships, jobs, leadership positions, sororities and virtually life created at home. There is nothing easy about saying goodbye to all of that and putting everything on hold for an entire semester.

There is a lot to consider. It is frustrating simultaneously wanting to learn more about this world, but being held back.

It comes down to one question: which option will produce more regret? Will I regret passing up on studying abroad- a seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me- more than I will regret continuing to grow here at Quinnipiac, advancing my involvement, getting an internship and spending more time with friends and family?

Studying abroad should not jeopardize friendships, relationships and involvement, but it’s also important to avoid regrets.