To go or not to go; that is the question

To go or not to go; that is the question

To study abroad or not to study abroad; that is the question.

But really, it’s a big question, especially as you begin thinking about what you want to major in and when you want to graduate. Wake Forest offers a wide variety of study abroad programs, whether through its own properties and departments or in affiliation with other programs.

For some, there’s no question: they are definitely going to go abroad at some point during their time at Wake Forest. For others, though, it’s not such a given. As such, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of studying abroad to figure out if it’s right for you.

Studying abroad allows you the opportunity to see the world and immerse yourself in a culture vastly different from your own. You get to make new friends, swap ideas and broaden your worldview, all while visiting precious historic landmarks and indulging in local cuisine. For a period of time — whether you go for six weeks or a full semester — you get to live outside of the Wake Forest bubble.

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Very few people return from studying abroad with negative perspectives on their experience. Instead, many Wake Forest students consider it an incredible opportunity that they are happy to have taken advantage of.

“One of the best decisions I made in college was to study abroad,” senior Lauren Miller said. “I went to the Flow House in Vienna where I made lasting relationships and learned so much about myself through travel and exposure to new cultures and people.”

Fellow senior Tim Wieckowski, who studied at Casa Artom in Venice, agrees.

“Studying abroad was by far my most valuable experience at Wake Forest. It provided me a new and more global perspective on culture and society. I learned that the American way of doing something is not the only way,” Wieckowski said. “Most importantly, I learned to appreciate the little things about foreign cultures while also gaining a greater appreciation of my own culture. I missed a lot about the United States, but upon returning home, there was so much to miss about Europe.”

While there are many positive aspects to studying abroad, the experience isn’t for everybody. Some people cite financial issues as a reason for not going abroad, while others simply don’t have the time to spare in their schedules. The desire to simply enjoy Wake Forest’s campus and the people who inhabit it is another perfectly understandable reason for choosing to forego spending the semester overseas.

“I never considered studying abroad mainly because it was difficult to find a good time to go,” senior Leslie Hoyt said. “Up until my junior year I felt like I was rushing to fit all of my pre-med classes into my schedule before the MCAT. I also appreciated spending more time on campus because it allowed me to get more involved in clubs and campus events.”

Another senior, Diann Low, echoes this decision.

“I chose not to study abroad because I was concerned that I wouldn›t be able to finish a major in time before graduation on top of divisionals, since not every major classes are offered abroad,” Low says. “I think this is the case for quite a few students, Wake Forest offers so many opportunities on campus so you don›t have to study abroad to have that full college experience. And it›s especially sad to see friends leave for abroad since you don›t get to see them for half a year.”

Studying abroad is definitely an adventure — that much  is obvious even before you go. However, unlike some adventures, it’s for the fainthearted, stronghearted and everything in-between.

Having gone abroad twice, I will say that it’s really a fairly life-changing thing. You absolutely will not be the same person when you come back, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not something you do and then expect everything to be like it was when you get back. That being said, if you decide studying abroad is for you, don’t hesitate to look at all of your options.

Going abroad is definitely a personal choice, but be sure to consider all aspects before you make your decision.

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