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A response: 4 Signs You Should Not Study Abroad by USA Today

(photo by imgarcade.com)

When the headline “4 Signs You Should Not Study Abroad” appeared on my laptop screen, I felt like the author was speaking directly to me. I know what the title read but in my mind I felt the author was really saying “Andrea, you shouldn’t have studied abroad and here are 4 reasons why not.” As the poster child for someone who wasn’t prepared to study abroad for a year, this article appeared to be directed at me. So, naturally I had to find out what Erika Cirino (that’s the article’s author) had to say about us undesirable candidates for studying abroad.

 Finger-Pointing(You should not be studying abroad according to this article. manofdepravity.com)

The story starts just like this, “As you likely realize, studying abroad is a popular educational experience. Many colleges and universities offer an array of interesting overseas programs, and they encourage their students to take advantage at least once during the course of their academic careers.

[…]

You may wonder if you should study abroad, but before you begin packing your bags, check for the following four signs that may indicate an overseas experience is notfor you.”

quote3

I re-read that last sentence over and over, concentrating on the only word in bold in it- “not”. Ms. Cirino clearly wanted “you” to know what you should “not” be doing. Before continuing on with the story, I did a quick glance down to the bottom to see the author bio. I couldn’t find anywhere where Ms. Cirino studied abroad or how she has this specific knowledge on what types of students should and should not study abroad. But, trying to give the benefit of the doubt, I went back to reading the article. In 460 words, Ms. Cirino tells us why we (myself and students like me) should not study abroad. She breaks it down into 4 categories:

1- you easily become homesick

2-you dislike change and uncertainty

3-your funds are limited

4-your time is better spent elsewhere

I understand what Ms. Cirino is saying. However, she couldn’t be more wrong when it comes to her first 2 points. Per this article, I should not have studied in Paris for a year. Homesickness- check! Dislike for change and uncertainty- double check! In her article, Ms. Cirino is missing the fact that many American study abroad programs don’t prepare students for the cultural immersion process and the experience of being alone for the 1st time in their lives. Although Ms. Cirino makes excellent points, she is forgoing the reasons they exist and ways to prevent or handle them.

skills(photo by www.thestaffingstream.com)

If an introvert or loner student looking to gain skills and knowledge from a study abroad for their career came across this article, he or she may be dissuaded from studying abroad. The point of studying abroad is to gain professional skills and personal growth. Wouldn’t learning how to be away from your parents and adapt to change only help a student in their personal and professional life? I was absolutely floored that a writer for a college platform would actually encourage students to not take a once in a lifetime opportunity instead of preparing for it. According to Ms. Cirino’s article I should not have studied abroad. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have a job as a Paris study abroad expert; I wouldn’t have become the woman I am today; I wouldn’t be able to speak French; I wouldn’t know how to accept and not judge other cultures; and I wouldn’t know how to adapt to change. Staying home to avoid home sickness and change would have been extremely beneficial (sarcastic tone dripping in each word).

Important-Rubber-Stamp(photo by www.ashworthroad.com)

I’m very happy that USA Today- College featured this article. It shows me how important my study abroad work is by talking about the mental and emotional preparations for study abroad students so that they aren’t discouraged from this experience; but, instead, are better prepared for it.