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Study Abroad– All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

A recent controversy arose on the internet surrounding an article written by an NYU student about her hot take on studying abroad. The perspective shocked readers, as most college students seem to agree that studying abroad had, “changed their life for the better,” and returned home swooning over their trip. Are critics correct in their assumption that this college student must be a brat for not enjoying her semester abroad? Or maybe, did this student write a true exposé on the dark side of studying abroad that people just weren't ready to hear? 


The Controversial Article


This American college student spoke out about her experience studying abroad in Italy. Interestingly, this student was required to study abroad by her institution. Throughout the article, she admitted that she hated the place and the people. She especially hated the values that Italians and her American peers held, to which she had a hard time relating. 


She opened up the article with her fantasized version of travel, which did not come to fruition. It seems as if this is a problem for many students who believe that their travels will be like a Netflix series, filled with romance and happiness, but are faced with hard work and culture shock. 


The reaction to this honest article was not well received by the public. The student was mocked on the internet for being privileged and entitled. The author responds that she was simply expressing her dislike of the experience and therefore, shouldn't be attacked for her opinion.


Do students feel forced to make this decision? 


Studying abroad is becoming a more popular choice with each generation. Some students even make their college decision solely based on their desirable abroad program. It is without a doubt that this step out of one’s comfort zone will bring new knowledge, experiences, and perspectives, but is it the perfect fit for every student?  


Living in another country for months at a time should not be a cookie-cutter experience, yet the number of students going abroad is only rising. Do all students feel they need this experience, or do some feel pressured into buying into it? 


The student in the article explained that she didn’t feel that everyone had the same values as she did, and felt that people were traveling for the perfect Instagram shot or to show off their adventures to their friends back home. She also felt like she was forced to leave the comfort of her New York City home and that the city had moved on without her.


The Tip of the Iceberg


This controversial article may be the tip of the iceberg for a deeper problem plaguing American college students. Studying abroad is a costly decision that many students feel forced into experiencing. Although housing and food are often paid by one's home institution, other costs such as entertainment, traveling, and cultural expenses are often a burden to students. 


A survey found that the average cost of a semester abroad is about $16,000. Most college students do not have the income to afford these travels but don't want to give up the experience. Perhaps instead of outside influences, students need to look deep inside themselves and decide if studying abroad is something they want, or even can do.


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