Two years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to spend a scholar year (9 months) studying in Ireland. I was still in high school, so I was pretty young and spending a long time away from home was such a challenge for me. Even though I had some hard times while in there, I wouldn't change it for anything and it is by far one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.
Let's get into the point of this post. I'll be sharing some pros and cons about studying abroad. All of these are based on my personal experience, but I'll try to be as neutral as possible.
1. It makes you smarten up. When you're "alone" in a country you barely know (that was me) you need to be clever. You have to keep doing the activities you would normally do, the difference is that you are by yourself and it doesn't matter if you're shy or scared: you still have to buy things and go to places, so you better sharpen your wits!
2. It will teach you the value of money. Unless you're a rich person, you'll have to deal with X€ per month. I wasn't used to this at all, that's why it took me a lot of time to learn how to distribute my money so that I didn't spend it right away. Maybe you'll struggle the first months, but then you'll realise that "the real life" isn't as easy as it seems when you're living with your parents.
3. The amount of things you'll learn is overwhelming. I went to school every day, therefore, I learnt stuff, obviously. However, the most valuable things I learnt weren't in class. I discovered their culture, lifestyle, improved my English... Make sure you keep your mind opened, because you'll need to soak up a lot of information every day. As I said before (point 1), you'll grow as a person, but you won't realise that until you come back.
4. You'll meet amazing people. Whether they are your host family, new friends you've made, the shop assistant or your neighbours, chances are that you'll keep in touch with them. When you are alone in a remote place of the planet you always need somebody to lean on, and I reassure you that you'll find wonderful people with whom you'll become friends forever (as cheesy as it sounds).
5. The overall experience and the memories. I'll go deeper into that at the end of the post, but I just want to mention that you can never go wrong with going to study abroad.
1. You'll most likely find people from your country. At first you won't think it's a big deal but I would recommend you to stay away from them (not in a bad way): if you want to learn the language and befriend other students it's the best you can do.
2. You may feel homesick or out of place. It is totally normal and it depends on your character as well. What you need to know is that it's only a matter of time before you get used to the place and the people. Sooner than you think you are going to be settled down and comfortable with everything. Try to remember that you have an incredible year (or month, or whatever) ahead and you'll make the most of it.
3. Money, money money. Studying abroad it isn't cheap. Normally people who choose to do it have been saving for a lot of time. You need to have money for the course, the living, the expenses you'll have in there, the plane ticket (remember that you may also fly home for Christmas or Easter, which means four more tickets).
4. Agencies want what's best for them so be careful, read the smaller print and choose wisely. A solution would be to go there by yourself, but in order to do that you need to have friends or family that could help you.
Before deciding that I wanted to spend a year abroad, I searched online for information and talked to people that had already done that. Everyone gave me positive feedback and encouraged me to do it. The reason why I'm including this last section a part from the pros and cons is because unfortunately, my experience wasn't as incredible as I was told it would be. I might be in this 2% (approximately) of people that hasn't had too much luck and that's why I think it's worth sharing it.
Earlier on, I told you that I was very young, that's why my parents and I agreed that I would stay with a host family. It turned out that the mother was the coordinator of all the students so everyone had to reach out to her if they had any problem with the family or whatever, which means that if I had a problem with my family (aka, her family) I had to tell her? Yes. I don't think the coordinator should have had a student, but that's not the point. At the beginning everything was okay, however, it didn't last for more than a month. I won't talk much about it because I think it's personal and I wouldn't like to offend anybody. The conclusion is that I didn't like the way I was treated. You may think: oh, but you only went there to sleep and that's it, is not that much. Well, it may not be that much but when you're away from home and the ones who are supposed to take care of you don't do it, it's really frustrating and it makes you feel unloved and lonely. Although it wasn't always easy, having a tough time has taught me many things that I wouldn't have learnt otherwise. Don't get me wrong, I still had an incredible experience thanks to the other people I met there. Everybody was aware of my situation and they were always there to help me and when I was with them I felt the most fortunate person in the world. These are the people who made my stay as awesome as it was and that's what is all about, keeping the good memories above the bad ones!!
If you have any questions of doubts feel free to leave a comment down below or email me!