After the lengthy application process and hours of googling and researching potential universities across the globe, my study abroad application was sent off and I waited tentatively to hear back.
This was months ago now. Since finding out I was accepted for the University of Western Australia in Perth (and if you’re debating going to Perth, definitely do it – you can find all about my road trip around WA here) I was filled with a feeling of both excitement, but dread.
Was I really making the right decision? Should I accept my study abroad offer? Why was I even questioning it so much in the first place?
I was in a huge predicament and one that could hugely change my life. And until one week ago I had no idea what I wanted to do. And the more I googled it the more everyone said I should be going: “you’ll grow so much as a person”, “you’ll gain valuable life experience” and (my favourite of all) “it will look great on your CV.”
So why wasn’t I convinced?
I realised this probably wasn’t a challenging question for only me; how many students across the globe were deliberating the same thing? In case you haven’t guessed, I’ve decided to turn down my study abroad offer. And here’s what made me.
Money Money Money
If you really want to go, don’t ever let money stop you.
For me, I already wasn’t certain. And for something I wasn’t certain on studying abroad costs a lot. Plus saving as a student is hard. If you’re prepared to give up your weekly socials, live off beans on toast (if you weren’t doing so already) and say bye bye to spontaneous nights out, gym memberships and clothes shopping then go, goddamn it, go.
But for me my weekly socials meant getting merry with my best friends. I have too little self control to not be tempted by smoked salmon and the occasional reduced avocado. And my gym membership is a necessity. Was I prepared to cut all of this out just so I could study abroad? No.
While I did manage to save a bit, I knew I hadn’t saved enough to be comfortable when I got out there. Living costs in Australia are expensive enough as it is (though if I remember correctly Domino’s pizzas were only $5, bargain). But with the stress of having to find a job immediately to get by and the fear of not having enough money to do what I really wanted, to travel, it was a risk I was not prepared to take.
I want to travel, not study
When I think about my reasons applying for study abroad, was it really because (and I quote from my application), it “offers me the opportunity to broaden the horizons of my education and, by studying at a different university, grants me the privilege of experiencing different teaching methods, expanding my learning”?
Ha – nope!
It was because I was bored of uni. I wanted a break. I wanted to be back in a country that I’d fallen in love with and held a special place in my heart. I wanted to be back living life like on my gap year instead of revising endlessly for my January exams. A study abroad sounded like freedom and change.
And while a change, yes it would be, freedom..? As my Mum pointed out to me countless times, it is a study abroad. Not another year long holiday. And while being out there held the potential for travel, with my budget already being tight was it going to be a reality?
To me, I could see it being more of a frustration. I don’t mind sitting in lectures when its 12 degrees in rainy Leeds, but when it’s beautiful weather and the prospect of adventure was at my fingertips, being forced to attend a 9am seemed much less appealing. Especially when the last time I’d been in Perth I’d been free as a bird with not a care in the world. Perth was full of amazingly happy memories for me. I didn’t want those memories to be fogged with thoughts of deadlines and studying. Perth was my happy place. And it needs to stay that way.
A study abroad is not the only travelling opportunity you’ll have in your lifetime. There will be ample time. Trust me.
I’m dying to graduate
Sure, this is probably a shit reason to not go, but I moan about uni a lot.
The student lifestyle I adore; being able to go out every night of the week, living with my best pals, student discount, huge social circles, and it being perfectly acceptable to sleep all day. That I would not change for the world. But studying itself? I hate it. And I’m awful at it. I am queen procrastinator and leave everything to the last minute.
I’m also already a year “behind” so to say. Of course at uni no one every really cares how old anyone is or questions things too much, but my friends at home are all graduating this year and I can’t help but think student life is not forever. I have to grow up at some point, right?
And now is not the only time in my life I have to see the world. For me I decided it’s best to get me degree behind me, work for a bit, then pack my bags and travel endlessly with no thoughts of final year weighing me down.
I’ll miss out, then have to fit back in
Sure, going on a study abroad will be incredible. I’ll meet new people. I’ll see new things. And while all this exciting stuff is happening I probably wouldn’t even think about what life could have been like in Leeds. In fact, I’ll probably feel sorry for all the people still stuck there while I’m soaking up the sunshine.
But what struck me more was the thought of coming back after my year abroad. If uni was already tough at times, what’s it going to be like now? Now I’ve had a year of more relaxed study? Now all my friends have graduated? Clubs and societies will have elected new leaders. There will be new freshers and new freshers again. And I’ll have to try and fit back into this loop that I willingly left?
No thank you.
I like my loop. I like my friends. I love cheer. I’ve been in a great position on the cheerleading committee this year as a coach and could run for another position if I stayed. Do I really want to come back to a team that has no idea who I am with the only girls I know being this years freshers, now in their final year? I don’t want to miss out on a year of student stories and drama which my best friends promised to keep me updated on, but who’s lives seemed to get in the way. Because life does get in the way.
I’d rather graduate with my best girls, free myself of extreme FOMO and explore the world after.
If you answer all these questions with a no then bloody study abroad. It’s made for you. If you find yourself saying yes, save yourself the money, time, and homesickness:
- Are you short of money and unwilling to give up luxuries in order to save?
- Are you studying abroad to travel and for “fun” instead of to expand your learning and broaden your understanding of education?
- Are you part of something big already at university that you enjoy and can progress in?
- Do you suffer from FOMO and hate thinking of all the gossip you’ll miss when you’re away?
- Do you secretly (admit it) hate studying?
Still unsure? Flip a coin. If you’ve got an answer you’re unhappy with you’ll immediately feel a sense of doom and despair, in which case do the opposite.
And all that money you’ve put away which isn’t quite enough to last you the year in Australia? It’s more than enough to allow you to make some sick travel plans for summer. With no studying involved. That’s what I’m talking about.