Why Study Abroad, Part II

AmericanUniv sharjahPart Two

This is the second in a series of posts about “who-what-when-where-why-how to study abroad.” This post will continue the question “Why Study Abroad?” In the previous post you may have noticed that most of the arguments for studying abroad apply to living abroad in any capacity, as a student, teacher, volunteer, or businessman abroad. So this post is targeted at students who find the idea of living abroad appealing, but are considering finishing their education first and finding a way to go abroad after their studies. While that’s a perfectly reasonable option, I think that if you have the opportunity to go abroad as a student then you should seize it. Why? Read on!


Study abroad is to life abroad as university is to “real life.” It’s designed to be a transition that guides and prepares you while maintaining a security net to protect you from the harder falls. In short, it offers nearly all of the benefits of living abroad while excluding the more annoying difficulties. This is because there will be at least two and possibly three entire offices of professionals (your original school, the school abroad, and often a third study abroad “provider” that organizes the exchange) dedicated to making the experience as smooth and rewarding as possible. There is no other opportunity to live abroad that will offer you that kind of support. This means that some of the most frustrating elements of living abroad (finding a place to live, getting through visa bureaucracy, learning how to get around, paying bills correctly, even going to the post office!) will all be made much easier for you, if not taken care of entirely!


In most cases, you’ll have a much better start socially as well. Living in a foreign country can be a very lonely experience even for the most outgoing people. While study abroad programs vary widely according to whether you spend most of your time with locals, other internationals, or students from your own country, in almost all cases you are immediately introduced into a social group that you’ll spend a lot of time with and you’ll have a lot of social opportunities from the beginning. Very few other opportunities abroad offer this kind of “ready to wear” social environment. This is critical, because in my experience living in nine different countries, what makes or breaks the experience is the friends you do or do not make.


Finally, there’s the long-term structural benefit of studying abroad. You won’t need to take “time out” from your long-term goals to experience life abroad, and soaking up a foreign culture and language while taking your necessary classes is like catching two fish with one net! It’s also easier to explain that fact to others, like parents, university admissions departments, and prospective employers. Whether it’s the only time you’ll live in a foreign country or the beginning of an international life, study abroad translates onto résumés and application letter better than any other experience abroad (with the possible exception of something prestigious, like the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders). Teaching in Korea, or volunteering in Tanzania, or backpacking across India, as wonderful as the experiences are, need to be explained and carefully translated so that the gate-keepers of your next life-step understand how the experience made you more valuable to them as an employee or student. Depending on the person you’re trying to convince, it’s not always easy. Study abroad, however, is a universally accepted concept that everyone understands (or thinks they do), and it is always seen positively.


Of course, these are the advantages to studying abroad compared to other foreign opportunities, and study abroad comes with all the rewards discussed in earlier posts that apply to living abroad in any capacity. The adventure, increased independence and tolerance, foreign language experience, the revolutionized worldview, the way it enriches your passion for the world and makes you a more interesting person, and the excitement of stepping out of your comfort zone and really “living life,” these are all benefits of living abroad, and no less so for study abroad! So if living abroad is on your bucket list, there’s no time like the present!

Next week I’ll discuss who should study abroad, and how to know if you’re “ready.”  To find a study abroad program that suits you please visit www.studyabroad101.com 


– Caleb House

Caleb House grew up in Northern California and has lived in the Czech Republic, Japan, India, Tanzania, France, South Korea, Germany, and Côte d’Ivoire as a student, teacher, volunteer, backpacker, researcher, and school administrator. He holds an M.A. in Modern Global History from Jacobs University Bremen and an M.S. in International Management from the Burgundy School of Business. He recently married his French soulmate in her tiny village in the north of France, and the two currently find themselves in Washington D.C. He is preparing the launch of his website, HowToGoAbroad.com, and in the meantime can be contacted on his facebook community page, “How To Go Abroad,” or on Twitter: @HowToGoAbroad.  

What is it to Study abroad in snowy Russia?

“Study abroad”, this phrase contains a lot of stories, means, and riddles. Every day, people choose where to show their abilities and skills. Many foreign students prefer Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Yekaterinburg is located on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains. You can make only a single step between the different parts of the world, because this city is a natural boundary between Europe and Asia.

groupUral Federal University gives the opportunity to study different discipline in English. Department of marketing communications and branding invites you to be trained in two programs in English: Bachelor of Advertising and PR and Master Advertising and PR. If you have wish to enroll on these programs, you will get a chance of getting full or partial scholarships.

What attracts students in the Urals? Fabrice Fosso from Cameroon came to Russia to study Advertising and PR Master Program. He believes that the standard of living in Russia is, no less than in Europe, but much cheaper. Another advantage, which he has mentioned, is the opportunity to get a scholarship for study. It`s time to find out: “What is it to Study abroad in snowy Russia.” Many students have developed their principles and rules of behavior in Russia.

studentsPeople have a lot of stereotypes about Russia, but Rastha, a student from China, has denied all stereotypes, he said: “Bears, balalaika, vodka, where is it? I only saw the birch and matrioshka.” Arriving in Russia, you can dramatically change your opinion about everything. Yes, Russia is a very harsh country, but even here you can find happiness, as Anindita Mukherjee from India did, “Traditions in Russia are very different. For example, Happy ticket – happiness can be found even in the public transports.” But what is the secret of Russia? Dr. Rahman Matiur told us about it, he said: “Open your heart, and Russia will be opened by you.”

3 studentsTo communicate with people is very important, so Dr. Saugata Santra advises “Don’t be shy. Russian people are very sociable.” Everyday Eder Cordero from Mexico meets with the Russians, and that`s what he says about them – “Russian spirit, Russian soul, Russian temperament is a powerful rod. If you meet them once, then remember it for a long time.” The study of the Russian language is included in all Master programs. It’s pleased to learn Russian with Russian girls, Abid Abidullah noted – “Russian girls are very beautiful and modest. I lose the power of speech seeing their smiles.”

Many young people are afraid to leave their homes, but if you listen to Adadi Parise from Pakistan then we can understand how people are mistaken, he says that if you come to Russia, you will not regret. “Dear Students, Russia is huge. It’s time to open it to the world”- Guillanme Ore from Cote D’ivoire.

snowy day“All in all. People need to be active, ambitious, courageous, sociable, friendly, creative, tolerant if they go abroad.” Fabrice Fosso advices, these qualities would be useful for you, if you decided to link your lives with Advertising. If you want to be successful, communicative, creative, then welcome to UrFU! After studying at Ural Federal University, you will know how to build a successful business with Russia. You’ll find useful contacts. You’ll find close friends.

Elvina K

Elvina Kurbanova is a student at Ural Federal University in Central Russia who shows that study abroad is not just an American phenomena.  Her study abroad story is summarized in this study abroad review. 

Debit or Credit: Which Way Should Students Pay Overseas

Debit or Credit Card

In just a few months, spring semester will be over, and you’ll be on your way to your summer study abroad trip in Japan or the U.K. or Costa Rica. You’ve been preparing for months already ― researching the climate, the culture, the cuisine ― and you already feel like a travel pro.

However, if this is your first trip overseas, you might not have considered how you are going to pay for all your adventures in that foreign land. After all, even if your program pays for your lodgings and meals, you will undoubtedly want to explore on your own, and to do that, you’ll have to pay up. Experienced travelers rarely move about with more than a few bucks of cash, preferring hard, shiny plastic instead. Yet, if you only have a debt or ATM card in your pocket, you might want to consider taking out a line of credit, instead.

Debit cards are incredibly insecure, especially overseas, and traveling with one could cause all sorts of problems ― most significantly: theft. Here is a quick comparison of the different types of plastic payment to help you decide what stays and what goes.

Credit Cards Have New Security, and Debit Cards Lack the Best Tech

Last year, the major credit card companies (including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express) called for Americans to make a move away from the traditional magnetic strip and toward computer chips. Called EMV cards (for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa), these chip-embedded cards are dramatically more secure than magstrips ever were, and therefore they are more cost-effective for credit companies, card issuers, merchants, cardholders, and more. As a result, credit card companies provided issuers and merchants all sorts of incentives to adopt EMV technology ― and most of them have.

The chips contain tons of payment information, just like magstrips, but that data is heavily encrypted and difficult to reproduce on another card. Conversely, magstrips are easy to skim information from at any payment terminal, and fraudsters need only to print another magnetic strip to start spending their ill-gotten gains.

Nearly all credit cards in the country now use chips; in fact, nearly all credit cards in the world rely on EMV, since Europe and Asia adopted the tech nearly a decade ago. However, in the U.S. at least, debit cards still rely on old magstrips to convey data. Because no incentives exist to encourage banks to provide chip-embedded debit options, your debit card remains easy to steal from, especially when you travel abroad. Worse, thieves can take as much as they want, as explained next.

Credit Cards Have Automatic Limits, and Debit Cards Have No Protection

When you apply for a credit card, the issuer evaluates your credit history (which is likely lacking when you are young) to decide how much money you can be trusted with, called your credit limit. Usually, college students can get limits between $500 and $1,500, which is plenty to use on your summer study abroad trip. Fortunately, whatever your determined limit, no matter how hard you try, you cannot spend higher than that amount ― which means thieves cannot spend higher than that amount either.

Conversely, your debit card is directly linked to your checking account, which is usually linked to your savings account. A scammer who gets access to your debit card information ― through hacking, skimming, or plain-and-simple theft ― has access to all of your money. An experienced crook will drain a debit card in minutes, leaving you little time to notify your financial institution and cancel the card. Though your bank can investigate claims of unauthorized activity, it takes months to resolve; meanwhile, you are out your life savings while you are in a foreign country.

Credit Cards Provide Crazy Travel Benefits and Debit Cards Incur Crazy Fees

Finally, many credit cards give you rewards on travel-related purchases, like plane tickets or hotel rooms, so you can explore the world for less. Usually, travel rewards cards have higher interest rates than regular credit cards, but as long as you use credit responsibly ― i.e. never spend more than 15 percent of your limit and pay your total balance every month ― you should never incur unmanageable debts.

Meanwhile, debit cards tend to punish you for traveling overseas. Because it costs extra to send information internationally, banks charge transaction fees that add up fast. Additionally, every visit to an out-of-country ATM can cost as much as $10, putting your trip well over-budget. Instead of factoring in the costs of fees, you should just start building your credit with a safe, secure, satisfying credit card for your summer studies.


How to Pack Effectively for Your Semester Abroad

girl with suitcase

Taking a semester abroad can be one of the best and most exciting times of your life. But before you get there you have to think about packing. It may not seem like a difficult task but making sure you have everything you need while also keeping the baggage to a minimum can be somewhat of a balancing act. So hopefully these tips can help you pack for your semester abroad, and get you on your way to a life changing adventure.

Make a Plan

If you know that on your trip you are going to be doing certain activities, make sure you plan accordingly. You are essentially moving for a semester so you don’t want to be unprepared for any activities you might participate in, for example: hiking, building houses, or any community service opportunities. These activities could change what you decide to pack. The best way to make sure you pack appropriately is to do your research and get to know the program you’ll be participating in. Ideally, you have been accepted into a program that includes extracurricular activities you enjoy, but there is always the possibility you will be trying new things as well, so look carefully at the itinerary and make sure you are packed for everything.

Make a List

This is probably the most important thing you can do. Creating or finding a checklist will help you map out what you really need and what you can leave behind. One thing that really helps is to lay out everything you want to bring on your bed and narrow it down from there. If you see that you have seven pairs of pants maybe you can cut back to three. Doing this will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. Don’t forget you can always buy more shoes when you get there!

Think About the Weather

This is super important! You want to make sure if you are traveling to a cold country you are packing accordingly. Wearing extra layers on the flight is a good way to create space in your bag. Also, don’t forget to pack a hat and mittens. If you are going to a warm weather destination you want to make sure to still pack a jacket in case the weather turns, but overall you should have some more space for warm weather clothing. You also want to make sure to bring sunglasses, a summer hat, and a bathing suit.

Downsize and Utilize

Being able to downsize everything is really helpful for packing. Rather than bringing a computer, bring a tablet. Rolling your clothes or vacuum packing them can make more space in your bag as well. Also make sure you use every inch of space you have. Stuff smaller items in shoes and hats, and make sure any toiletry containers you bring are compact and completely full. A half-empty bottle of shampoo is a waste of space, so investing in a new one or transferring it to a smaller bottle will make a huge difference.


These are just a few helpful tips that will help you pack for your semester abroad, and have an awesome travel experience. One last thing, make sure you leave some room in your bag to bring home souvenirs! Cherish your time traveling and make the most of your journey. If you have any packing tips of your own, please share them in the comments!


Guest writer:

Amanda_EarleyAJ Earley is a freelance writer and travel junkie from Boise, Idaho. 

twitter: @ajvworld


Big Life Lessons Learned During a Short-Term Study Abroad

Hampton Court Palace

You don’t have to spend an entire semester abroad to learn valuable life lessons. Nearly 20 years ago, I spent just six weeks studying through the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Oxford University, and I learned lessons that are with me today — ones I wish I had with me when I headed to Oxford.

Adaptation is Key

The first thing I learned when I arrived in Oxford was: I would have a roommate. I grew up with my own room. I shared a room with my youngest sister for about a year; I was six. The closest to dorm living I’d been was sharing a bathroom with my sisters, and since I was so much older than they, I usually had it to myself. I had just six weeks in Oxford — I had to learn to adapt to my surroundings quickly, especially with weekend trips taking up precious free time.

Set Goals

David E. Smith of National University and Darryl J. Mitry of Norwich University completed a research project surveying students in short-term study abroad programs similar to the one I attended. They found that students who set goals before going into their programs, such as develop cross-cultural skills, were more likely to meet those goals. One of the goals I set for myself was to get a B-average in my courses. I usually maintained closer to a 3.7 at my home university, but this was Oxford — I knew it would be more difficult. I returned home with two B+’s. Had I gone there without goals (or with the goal of simply drinking my way through the program), I would have likely accomplished nothing.

Look Beyond

The most important lesson learned during my program is that it’s important to look beyond. Look beyond the situations in which you find yourself. I thought I’d come home from Oxford with a fun English accent. I sounded like my roomie from Detroit instead and discovered I could pick up just about any accent I wanted. I learned to look beyond the goals I set for myself during the program. A 3.0 average? Boring. How about those B+’s? At Oxford? These days, I use goal-setting for career and lifestyle choices, like improving my time management or working out more often. Three times a week? Too easy. I work out five. No matter the setting, looking beyond the goals you set for yourself can help you accomplish even greater things.

Go Forth and Learn

Your goals are your own, and if you choose a short-term or a long-term program, you will come home with life lessons of your own. Just don’t forget to set at least one goal, even if you start small.

by H. E. James

Guest blogger:

H.E. James-headshotHattie is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho, who has traveled throughout Europe and has spent countless hours in the car travelling the around the United States. She has a varied background, including education and history as well as journalism. Hattie enjoys sharing her passions through the written word. She is currently spending many sleepless nights seeking her graduate degree but always sets aside time to enjoy a good cider.