Thinking about studying abroad but you are not sure if you should go for one semester or one full year? This article should help you decide!
10th of October, 2017
STUDY ABROAD – LIVE ABROAD
Studying abroad is a unique experience. If you ever had the chance to study abroad you will know. In case you are just about to go, here is why we would always recommend to go for one full year rather than “just” one semester. This said we know that not every university – not every university system – allows a full year exchange. However, if you have the option to go for 1 year, you should!
When you first arrive in a new country, in a new city, everything seems so exciting. You start exploring and discovering so many new things which you didn’t know from back home or from other travels. Every break you have from university is used to discover more, to experience more. The weekends are packed with trips to the places you definitely want to see and the evenings and nights you spend by going out with all these new friends you made.
This is part of the experience and it is good. You do so for quite some time. But this is not what living abroad means. This is more like traveling and studying at the same time than really living abroad. It is more like being a tourist who at the same time has some responsibilities to fulfill.
What we mean by this, is that you are not really doing the “normal” things you would do living back home – but abroad. Everything is a lot more in a rush, because you want to experience all and everything. The problem is that you only have 6 months. So in order to get most out of it you are trying to squeeze everything in your tight time schedule.
And for sure you will have a great experience, this is not what we are trying to say. But it won’t be the experience of what it really means to live in this place, to find your hobbies and small routines, your habits, your rhythm. The experience you have is going to be action, adventure and a lot of fun, but the experience of what it really means to live in this place will only be a superficial one.
To really understand and to have a far stronger feeling of being part of this place simply needs time and comes with the moment when you discovered all tourist attractions and you did all the adventures you had on your personal bucket list. It comes when you start living in this place as if you would live back home.
We both made this experience in our time in Lima, Peru. We had the action in the first semester and the feeling of being rather a stranger and a tourist. But then things started to change and we felt more part of all of this.
You settle in, you find your small routines and you start to see this place in a total different perspective. You simply slow down to a pace which allows you to see the details, which allows you to understand the place in all its beauty and with all its defaults. It’s the time you need which also gives you a whole different kind of empathy for the people in this place. You’re not just a guest anymore, you’re not just taking the fun parts, but you start taking on the life in this place. Looking at the example of us living in Lima, we are of course aware that we are still living on the “fun side” of the life in Peru. A huge percentage of the population in this country is living under the poverty line and in fact we will never be able to develop an empathy that deep that we could understand what it is like for these people.
Nevertheless, the message we wanted to get across is that you need time. You need the time to do all these highlights, all these nice things before you can find time to slow down and experience things on a total different level.
So if you can, go for a year! And we are pretty sure that if you could spend even more time in this place, your experience and exchange with this place would be even more intense, more colourful and inspiring in detail.