I came across this article on Her Campus titled “Why I Don’t Give a Sh*t About Your Study Abroad Experience.” I am not the type of person who always needs to comment or respond to things on the Internet, but this one struck a chord in me.
The author, who by the way IS studying abroad in the fall, comes right out of the gate with a bunch of negative, expletive-laden insults to people who have studied abroad. Now, I get it. There is always that annoying person who comes back from study abroad and won’t stop talking about it. I’ve been that person. I still talk about my experience, because I loved it. But if someone is annoyed by it, I’ll stop.
But what I don’t do is put down other people’s experiences. The author says they don’t have the funds to “blow stacks” and play in Europe for a semester. THIS kills me. Studying abroad is not about blowing stacks (who says that? P. Diddy?). I didn’t “blow stacks.” I made a budget to convince my parents that my semester abroad would not be more expensive than studying at Hofstra for a semester. I lived in cheaper housing, I bought my groceries, I biked and skipped public transportation when I could, I didn’t go out partying or clubbing. I was smart about my money, and I tried to do everything I could in 4 1/2 months without going crazy. I stayed in hostels, took cheap flights, carried only a backpack, skipped out on alcohol. I did not “blow stacks.” Yes, studying abroad is expensive. Even though my tuition was free, it still costs a pretty penny to live in a foreign country for any amount of time. But I didn’t meet anyone who was just out blowing money left and right. Everyone was on some kind of budget.
The author then starts off a paragraph with, “Furthermore, stop acting so above me.” This is another thing that really gets me. I’ve written before that studying abroad does NOT make you a better person. It can, and I learned so much about myself and others while I was in Amsterdam. But a semester abroad is in no way a ticket to being above anyone else. AT ALL. Some people go abroad and act the same way they do at home, and treat it like a long vacation. That’s fine. Your semester abroad is YOURS- do what you want to do.
I get it. Studying abroad is not for everyone, and I always tell people that. If you can do it and you can afford it, awesome. If you can’t, that’s awesome too! I didn’t plan on studying abroad, I thought it was kind of a waste of a semester for a while. Why not just go on a shorter vacation to one destination? Won’t I miss out on everything at school that semester? But the opportunity to go to Amsterdam was something I couldn’t pass up, and I am grateful to my parents for letting me go.
I agree that there is a certain pretense of coming back from study abroad ‘wiser’ or ‘more cultured,’ and some people are definitely annoying about it. But I, and the people I became friends with abroad, would not look down upon someone because they did not spend a semester in Europe or elsewhere.
So, that’s my rant. I’m not trying to be one of those people who’s all, “OMG STUDY ABROAD WAS AWESOME WHAT YOU DIDN’T GO WHAT A LOSER.” Moral of the story- just be nice, guys. Everybody has a different college experience, and whether or not that involves studying abroad does. not. matter.