Why International Students Should Go Abroad


When I told my mom that I was considering going abroad for my third year, she scoffed, ‘You are already abroad, you want to go even further?’ She was not wrong. I had already undergone the extensive process of moving abroad to Edinburgh in my first year from the United States. It meant flying to school with your things, not driving. Getting a new bank account in a different currency. Going through an extensive and stressful visa process. Communicating with a different time zone from your friends and family. Every international student knows exactly what I am talking about. On top of moving away from home for the first time and adapting to university life, we were also familiarizing ourselves to a new country.

The entire hassle of moving to another country is enough to make you never want to do it again. But after two years in Edinburgh, I guess I suffered from a bit of memory loss about how difficult that process really was, because I found myself signing up for a third year abroad in France. While there was still a lot of challenges I had to overcome, it was all worth it. I really think that every international student could benefit from choosing to go abroad. I know it sounds annoying to introduce yourself as “from the United States but, go to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland” but I promise it’s not all that bad and the experience is irreplaceable. Here are some of the reasons you should consider moving abroad again in your third year.

  1. Attending a new university

One of the most exciting and interesting aspects of going abroad, is getting to see what life is like at a different university. Academically there will be a lot of differences like teaching methods, assignments, etc. Beyond that you will get the opportunity to see a different type of university social life and culture. Personally, I went to a very small university (only 300 students) and got to see what it was like to know everyone on campus. Overall, it’s a great opportunity to try something different and to compare to Edinburgh.

2. Different language and culture

After you have come to the UK and maybe improved your English skills, going abroad gives you the chance to learn another language. It was so exciting for me to challenge myself and live in a small city where people did not speak English. I was forced to learn and use conversational French in my day to day life, which I would have never been able to do if I stayed in Edinburgh. Besides language, it is also fun to learn about another culture. After getting used to fresher’s week and meal deals, I got to experience French university culture with their Weekend of Integration (WEI) and ‘bisous’ kissing greetings.

3. Time to really travel outside of the UK

While you may have already traveled a lot during your time in Edinburgh, your year abroad allows you to do even more. You will usually have other exchange students with you that are keen on traveling frequently. With them you can organize trips, and even visit your friends from Edinburgh that have gone abroad. Since the exchange is an entire year, you also have plenty of time to explore the country you live in and get more tips than the usual tourist.

4. Proving to yourself you can do it

After moving to Edinburgh, I was excited about the opportunity to move to other countries in the future. However, I was not sure I would be able to move again, especially to a country that did not speak English. One of the best things I have gotten from my year abroad was proving to myself that I could, in fact, move to another country again. And what was more exciting was that despite the language difference, moving the second time around was much easier. This has made me more excited about my future and all of the possibilities that lie ahead.

5. Coming back ‘home’ to Edinburgh

Probably the most unexpected thing I have experienced was when coming back to Edinburgh for a short visit, it really felt like home. I heard a Scottish accent from someone on my plane and was surprised by an overwhelming sense of comfort that came over me. Of course, I knew Edinburgh had become a home for me after living there for two years but after being away and coming back it really felt like home. It felt like as much of a home to me as my hometown in the US. Having this realization makes it all the more exciting to know I will be coming back for fourth year. It is also exciting to know that it is possible to make a place your home, no matter how far away.

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