Studying Abroad: Pros and Cons | Top Universities

Studying Abroad: Pros and Cons

By Zain Nabi

Updated April 18, 2021 Updated April 18, 2021

Life is not a fairy tale where everything is exactly as you want it to be. Indeed, it’s beautiful, colorful, fun and gives you uncountable reasons to laugh and smile… But if you are thinking of going to bed and waking up in a world made of chocolate, securing a high grade without giving due time to your studies, or getting high and creating a mess in the pub without being noticed by the bouncer then, my friend, you need to think again!

I am not implying that the world is not a wonderful place, but it is important to look at life as it is. There is always a downside to an upside and vice versa (all Game of Thrones fans will agree).

With this context in mind, let me draw your attention towards studying abroad. While I have always argued in its favor (and I still do!), there is always another side of the picture that you should be aware of. Thanks to my friend Tony, I was able to connect with some international students in Australia to explore some of the pros and cons of studying abroad. The does not mean we are discouraging you from studying abroad. Instead, we want you to keep realistic expectations and prepare accordingly.

Pro: Making new friends

Alice Zurek from Sweden attended Australia’s La Trobe University to study tourism management. Her favorite part of studying abroad was meeting new people, making friends and enjoying experiences she’d never had before. Alice Lee from Taiwan agrees. She is studying editing and publishing at Monash University. “I enjoy meeting like-minded people who have come here from various backgrounds,” she told me. “I like talking about interests we all have in common.”

Con: Loneliness

Regardless of how many new friends they make, most international students do experience loneliness at some stage. There are always occasions when you miss your family. Be it Christmas, Eid, Holi or any other religious festival, your first job, or your good results – you want to share those moments with your family and loved ones who are unfortunately miles away. Alice Zurek termed this as her “least favorite” aspect of studying abroad, while Alice Lee said sometimes loneliness makes her feel like an “alien”.

Pro: More study options

This one is definitely a pro. Alejandra Garrido, who studied art therapy at Phoenix Institute after coming from Spain, was delighted at the opportunities she had. “My favorite thing about studying here has been the different fields that are available for studying; in my case art therapy and group facilitation, two fields that in Spain are unknown and here are all well recognized,” she wrote.

Con: Fees and living costs

International students have to cope with a lot. Financial troubles are often on the top of that list. You pay heavy fees and if you are living in a country like Australia, then good luck managing other expenses on a low monthly budget. While Australian cities are some of the world’s most livable and attractive, they’re also among the most expensive. These remarks from Alejandra sum it up nicely: “The not such a fun part has been the feeling of business that surrounds many schools in Australia and the fact that as international students we have to pay more (fees) and we don't have the right to get concession cards for transport.”

Pro/con: Adapting to new norms/demands

This one is tricky. The challenges of adapting to a new culture and set of demands can fall in the category of pros as well as cons, depending on your perspective. For Alice, coming from Taiwan and settling into this new culture was not easy – but it wasn’t exactly negative either. She had to understand the new ways, improve her language skills and take care of her university workload. “This all is challenging, but that’s what motivates me and keeps me alive,” she said.

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This article was originally published in March 2015 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

Hailing from Pakistan, Zain finished a Masters of Journalism and International Relations at Monash University in Australia. He is working as a journalist and media trainer in Melbourne along with secretly harboring an ambition to become a filmmaker.


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