By: Matthew Secrest
When I told my family and friends I was going to do study abroad, they thought I was crazy. They would bombard me with questions, such as how can I afford it, how would I deal with the language barrier, and so on. Many of these questions are based on myths they had about study abroad. However, as this article will illustrate, many of these myths are not true, or can with planning be overcome.
The first myth is that study abroad is expensive. While it can be expensive if you let it, with proper budgeting you can enjoy study abroad on a law student’s income. There are many travel guides that can help you create the most expensive budget, to the cheapest and everything in between. The study abroad and financial aid office also give a cost of attendance estimate similar to the one first year law students get. This estimate lists the cost of housing, airfare, and other expenses, as well as estimation on the amount of financial aid a student may receive. In addition, both offices are willing to help students create a budget if they ask. Therefore, with all these resources available to students, there is no reason why costs should hold a student back from experiencing study abroad.
The second myth is that tuition for study abroad is higher. This is simply not true because, as the Foreign Study Office will tell students, they pay the same tuition per credit hour as they would pay for a regular credit hour at Cooley. However, unlike regular tuition money, students get so much more with their study abroad tuition including the opportunity to experience another culture, expand their understanding of the world, and obtain a global perspective on the law that is priceless. Thus, the cost of tuition is the same, but students get more with study abroad.
The third myth is that the language barrier. Many students will not do study abroad because they fear the language barrier. That fear is misplaced because in many parts of the world people speak and understand English and if they do not, gestures and pointing on a map work just as well. It is also helpful if students can say phrases such as, hello, please, thank you, do you speak English in the native language because people are more willing to help if you attempt to speak their language first. In addition, almost all the programs teach classes in English so students do not have to learn a new language do well in the classroom. Thus, while the language barrier is difficult, it is not impossible to overcome and should not prevent students from experiencing a study abroad program.
As this article illustrated, the myths of study abroad are simply untrue, or can be overcome with a little research and planning. Students should start at the Foreign Study Office where they can find which programs are available, ask about budgeting, and get other great resources. Students should also research the language and cultural aspects of the country they are interested in doing their study abroad. Finally, once the planning and research is over, students should enjoy the study abroad experience because it will be an amazing time in their lives.