Yes, studying abroad has not only advantages! It would have been too simple: you go to a foreign country and everything is wonderful, people are nice, your home is beautiful and so on. Lies!!! Studying abroad is not (always) so nice. You might have to face one or even more problems while living abroad and see some of the disadvantages of studying abroad.
#1 Disadvantage of studying abroad: You are not a genius
Reality is hard, I know. Studying in another country does not mean you will learn English or other languages magically. I remember the father of one of my friends: he was British and uses to live in France for 3 years. But he could not speak French because he never tried to learn it. Of course living abroad will help you to understand the language better, but if you do not talk, you will not improve. That is why you need to pay attention and study, but be reassured because you live in that country it should make study easier and faster.
#2 Disadvantage of studying abroad: You are alone
Even if our society is more and more communicative and even if you are closer to your family and friends thanks to Skype, msn, Facebook and others, it still does not mean it is any easier to study abroad half way round the world. Are any of these people are with you in that unknown country? Nope. That is why you could feel alone and sad sometimes. At the beginning, culture shock will not help you to feel integrated: you will need an ‘adjustment period’. You should create new habits, discover the place you are going to live, meet people for example. I cannot hide to you that it will be hard sometimes. You could feel excluded in the country where you are and not have the social network yet that can give you support and strength. And if, god forbid, something bad might happen back home, you might not have the chance to be with your family and friends and have to stay in that country with your pain and alone.
#3 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Reality can be treacherous
First step in that new country and everything seems weird. Differences can be huge between Europe and Asia or small between France and Belgium. Standard of living can be different: more poor people in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe or you cannot expect the same way of life in India than in United States. You will have to face other behaviors, and some can make you feel uncomfortable if you are not used to them: in United State people are going to speak easily with you in the bus, whereas in Europe (read Paris) if you talk to a stranger you will probably get an angry look or might even scare people away. Everyone knows that Chinese people are different from Americans, Americans are different from Germans, some differences are obvious others are more subtle. We can name that cultural obstacle. Moreover the food is different, you will have lot of difficulties to find local French cheese in US, or local Italian wine etc. if the culture is different, the food will be too, certainly. Getting used to these cultural differences can be a real disadvantage for your study abroad experience.
#4 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Nothing is free
Another big disadvantage of studying abroad can be the costs. Studying abroad can be really expensive. First, it will depend on your major and university or school you choose, and then it will depend on the country, the city and the place where you want to live (big house or small room?). Moreover most countries do not allow foreign student to work, so you need to have money before you arrive in the country or have someone from home supporting you. The question you have to ask yourself is: can I afford to study abroad?
For some countries or universities your study abroad credits might not count towards your degree, which of course means your study time will increase, costs will go up and you might be longer dependent on your parents. These are major disadvantages of studying abroad. Before you leave and join the next study abroad program, you have to considerate this: are you ok with adding one more year to your studies? Is it useless? High school students who take part in exchange programs abroad often say that they have already studied what they are taught abroad or that the class is too difficult because nothing is done to support their special needs. Moreover some say they are excluded, a kind of racism or sometimes they are a star at school. But in both case it can be really hard to live.
# 6 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Hard to come back “home”
When you are going to study abroad you only think about the time you are going to spend away. But you forgot that one day you will have to (well, most of us) come back to your beloved home country. It can be as hard to live in another country as to come back to your own. It is called reverse culture shock. But there might be even more disadvantages of studying abroad: What if you fall in Love and have to leave the love of your life because your visa expires or what if your boyfriend or girlfriend from back home broke up with you while you were gone? It will only really hit you once you are back and see all the places where you used to spend time with him or her.
#7 Disadvantage of studying abroad: Last but not least: Your Mom will nag you
Do not laugh! You know as well as me that moms can be really possessive. Oh my little baby is far away, how is s/he doing? She will nag you: you will receive e-mails with hundreds of question and if you do not answer as fast as she wants, retaliation could be horrible. She will create her own Facebook account in the aim to know everything you don’t want to share with her. Each time you will be on Skype, she will call you. As if your life was hers. You will need to establish rules.
As far as I am concerned I think study abroad is a great opportunity and experience and I am studying abroad since last September. Of course I have no thought about disadvantages when I left, but I certainly had to face one or the other. But at the end, there are more advantages than disadvantages. That is why if you can study abroad, I will say you: “Go! But be prepared”. Do not think that everything is black or white, that the country you are going in, is the greatest of the world or that your home country is the best. Do not have prejudices or false ideas about things. Have only a children view to be curious and surprised and enjoy.
Advantages of Studying Abroad
If you read through this article and got a bit overwhelmed with all the things that could go wrong, whether you should take the plunge and study abroad or not, check out this book: The Global Student is the perfect book to show you that that living abroad is a great way to spark your career and see how many advantages living and studying abroad really has.