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Semester abroad vs after college vacation

Semester abroad vs after college vacation

Old Apr 10, 13, 10:06 pm
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Semester abroad vs after college vacation

I am way past my college years but wanted to hear opinions from people who experienced both.

I am of the opinion that a college age person does not have enough experience in life to be safe in another country and a person under 21 could not appreciate travel as much.

The one pro I can see to a semester abroad is being around a group of people the same age. The trips are generally supervised, but not fully.
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Old Apr 10, 13, 11:09 pm
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This is going to be an interesting way to do a first post, but I'd disagree under some conditions.

Its definately the type of experience in life and not the shear quantity of it that matters for being safe in another country.

For example, I traveled solo in China when I was 18, however it would definately not be safe for just anyone to do that, I could do it since I am Chinese and had plenty of experience from my father and grandmother from similar family trips. I'd be pretty comfortable even if I was in Taiwan or Singapore too back then.

I'm actually 22 and about to graduate (5 year program =_=) and planning on going back to that area, this time traveling around South Korea and Japan. From my experience in China and from both Korean and Japanese friends' advice, I'm not worried at all, in fact my main worry is the trip costing too much money.

Now, being only 22 I'm not sure if my perception on this is right, but personally I think people in the 18-24 range can experience another country in a much different way than those who are older if they are open minded and willing to go along with the people in the country. Just seems people around our age are more willing to help out and even travel with people from different country of the same age. I've always heard people from around my area under 21 having a blast in different countries, with travel or a semester abroad. And its mostly because of the friends they make in the country, the supervision doesn't really keep you safe, its the friends you make that keeps you safe and lets you enjoy the country in a very natural way. (Now, I will admit the area I'm from is very diverse so this may play a part in it, the city I used to live in actually has more minorities than white which are just over 1/3 the population).
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Old Apr 11, 13, 12:18 am
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Semester abroad vs after college vacation

I studied abroad along with traveling after college and I would think my life would be a lot different had I not gone abroad while in school

some of us can't afford continuing studies when done with school so knowing exactly what you should be studying in college is essential so that you don't waste you're time. and I think I only knew what I really loved after studying abroad.

so I think traveling earlier the better. having a understanding of the world is key even before college. something I wouldn't have understood if I stayed in rural New Hampshire
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Old Apr 11, 13, 2:04 am
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Quite the opposite. The younger you are when you first travel alone, the stronger the impression. When I was in high school there were kids who took off on their own and traveled. It wasn't common, but a few did. In WWII 14 year olds lied about their age and went to war.

Perhaps the world is less safe these days. OTOH, with mobile phones and the internet, perhaps it's safer. It's more organized, for better and for worse. I knew someone who traveled the world alone at 12. Couldn't do that today.

These might be extreme examples, but late teens and early twenties are great years for travel. The best.
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Old Apr 11, 13, 3:17 am
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I also disagree. I didn't travel much before I came in my thirties, but we have a son who has been traveling with us the last 10 years (he is now 18). When he was 10 we also lived abroad and our son went to an English public school. He has learned a lot from both traveling and living abroad and we are happy to hear that he has no problems with studying abroad if he has to. In fact I encourage him to study abroad!

I have no concerns sending my son out in the big world. He is more used to taking the tube in Tokyo and London than he is with taking the train here at home. And of course he appreciate it, maybe not in an "adult-way", but in his own way.

Xxx.
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Old Apr 11, 13, 3:26 am
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I spent 6 months abroad with my parents when i was 6 and again when i was 9. They played a huge part in my formative years.

I then travelled solo at 16, moved out of home and travelled with friends at 17, travelled again at 19 and 20 with and without friends. As others have said what you see when you are young, is different to what you would see when you are older.

I dont know what countries you are planning on travelling to, but any 'normal' destination (Europe, most of Asia and South America, North America) would be safe.

Maybe us Aussies just have a different attitude to travelling, but if you havent been overseas (preferably without your parents) by the time you are at uni then that is considered a bit strange (for middle class and up).

In answer to your questions: Why not do both??
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Old Apr 11, 13, 3:39 am
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I am still a student now (25 years old), but have had great experiences studying abroad/living in other countries.
I moved from England to France when I was 7, and in the last 4 years I have studied abroad (currently in Sweden), worked abroad (Germany) and traveled a lot during my studies (mostly short trips, but many destinations). I have had great experiences studying abroad, traveling to random destinations and meeting new people. When I graduate I will not do anything special, but I don't really mind as I know that I have made the most of it already!

I have always felt safe when traveling, even walking around St Petersburg drunk and almost lost, or a week in Tokyo with no phone (the only place that I have visited where my phone didn't work) or walking around the west district of Baltimore MD alone (some would argue that this is not recommended).
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Old Apr 11, 13, 3:52 am
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Originally Posted by Ikaz View Post
walking around St Petersburg drunk and almost lost, or a week in Tokyo with no phone (the only place that I have visited where my phone didn't work) or walking around the west district of Baltimore MD alone (some would argue that this is not recommended).
haha yeh these are all the fun parts of travelling when you are young. The parts you tell stories about or you look back on and think "what was i thinking". I can remember many nights blind drunk trying to direct a Korean taxi driver home, not being able to say more than hello in Korean. Or talking to Yakuza bosses when drunk

Or boys trips to Thailand, stumbling in at all hours of the morning, not even remembering where you have been.

Good times
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Old Apr 11, 13, 5:51 am
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Originally Posted by 17jwblue17 View Post

I am of the opinion that a college age person does not have enough experience in life to be safe in another country and a person under 21 could not appreciate travel as much.
Because "other countries" are so alien and dangerous? Watch out, American college students! Spending a semester in Australia will result in getting eaten by a dingo! Beware, German students! Venture to Montreal for a couple months at your peril!

The thousands of students who participate in exchange programs every year without problems would seem to prove otherwise.

As for appreciating travel, I don't understand why that's even a consideration. That's like telling someone they can't have a glass of wine because they can't possibly appreciate it as fully as a wine connoisseur. How else does one learn to appreciate the myriad benefits of travel if one does not start traveling in the first place?

The one pro I can see to a semester abroad is being around a group of people the same age. The trips are generally supervised, but not fully.
Other benefits: discovering that one can function and thrive in a different culture, and the self confidence that comes from it; learning about different cultures; seeing a new place; expanding one's horizons; meeting people from other places; perhaps learning a new language; making new friends; having new experiences...etc. etc. etc.

If being around people the same age is the sole concern, then I don't understand why anyone would ever leave their university grounds.

I never even did a semester abroad...but I wish I had. So I contented myself with a month of backpacking through Europe with friends after college. Talk about unsupervised! And fun!
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Old Apr 11, 13, 6:11 am
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Meh, my parents sent me backpacking through Europe myself at 13/14. I had an amazing time, and it was a defining experience in my growth. It sparked a travel bug that I still have now!
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Old Apr 11, 13, 6:25 am
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Why not just go for school abroad? If you really need to stay around home or haven't decided yet, then why not grad school abroad?

I mean, yeah, travelling is fun, but you really miss out a lot in a few days or even weeks. A semester is great and you really learn more about the society, culture, and people and you inevitably see more. But after a year or two it's a whole different story. You really get to know the culture/place/people and it's stopped being just a place you saw and is now a part of your life story. Plus if you're talking about going to a place where you have to learn the local language then a semester is probably bare minimum.

I may not be the best example because my "two year" program turned into something very different and significantly longer. I still haven't "moved back" almost eight years later - and probably never will go back to where I grew up - but it's been probably one of the most important decisions I think I've ever made.

And then while you're there, take some time off and do the crazy short trips.
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Old Apr 11, 13, 8:54 am
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I studied abroad in Spain my junior year in college. It was my first time on a plane and first time out of the U.S. (except for Canada), and it was a life-changing experience. I became fluent in a language, I traveled around Europe and gained a whole new perspective on the world. I came home, added Spanish as a major and ended up in a career that has an international focus that has sent me around the world. If I hadn't gone to Spain, I would be doing what I had originally planned to do after college. In addition, after traveling as cheaply as possible (night trains, hostels, etc.), I have an appreciation for taxis, first-class trains, luxury hotels and hotels with bathrooms in the rooms and not down the hall.
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Old Apr 11, 13, 9:32 am
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Intl work or study experience is an asset in your career path.

I had to troubleshoot intl conflict with a few major American firm who were not base near any oceans over their staff's lack of intl culture/business knowledge. Most of their limited intl exposures in generous cases were touring with an US tour operator or all you can eat Asian buffets.
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Old Apr 11, 13, 9:33 am
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I'll go even farther: if your school permits it, spend a whole academic year abroad as opposed to a semester.

I did my entire junior year abroad and was able to fully immerse in the whole student experience at the university - and still have time to do some traveling on weekends and during breaks. Staying for the year means you can get involved with sports, arts, clubs, other groups...whatever interests you, just like you would at home. If you're just in town for 16 weeks, you can't really do those things to quite the same extent. Sure you can get a taste of the local scene, do some traveling, network with other international students, but it's really being there for a year where you start to actually feel more like a local student and make long lasting friendships.

I was in Wales, a very alien and dangerous place because they will force you to learn to play rugby. @:-) Fortunately, the threat of being attacked and killed by a herd of sheep is pretty minimal these days.

Indeed, it was a life-changing experience for me 20 years ago, and I still keep in touch with a ton of people from that year.
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Old Apr 11, 13, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
I'll go even farther: if your school permits it, spend a whole academic year abroad as opposed to a semester.

I did my entire junior year abroad and was able to fully immerse in the whole student experience at the university - and still have time to do some traveling on weekends and during breaks. Staying for the year means you can get involved with sports, arts, clubs, other groups...whatever interests you, just like you would at home. If you're just in town for 16 weeks, you can't really do those things to quite the same extent. Sure you can get a taste of the local scene, do some traveling, network with other international students, but it's really being there for a year where you start to actually feel more like a local student and make long lasting friendships.

I was in Wales, a very alien and dangerous place because they will force you to learn to play rugby. @:-) Fortunately, the threat of being attacked and killed by a herd of sheep is pretty minimal these days.

Indeed, it was a life-changing experience for me 20 years ago, and I still keep in touch with a ton of people from that year.
Totally agree. I spent a year of my undergrad in Tokyo when I was 19 and 20 years old. That is still one of the most important experiences of my life.
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