Study Abroad Myths

Myths about studying abroad 

Students take a lunch break while atop mountain

It’s too dangerous!

With sensationalized news stories, it is easy to come to the conclusion that the world is simply too dangerous to explore. Saying the world is too dangerous is like refusing to swim in the ocean because people drown in water. For many, studying abroad is the first step to exiting their comfort zone. It broadens perspectives and may actually help you feel safer in places that are not home. The U.S. Department of State publishes travel advisory levels for all locations in the world and the University monitors these levels and if the situation is necessary, it will restrict students, faculty, and staff from traveling to locations with elevated advisories. Your safety is the University’s top priority. 

I’m not studying a foreign language, so studying abroad is useless.

You do not need to study a foreign language to study abroad. Many of our locations offer programs that are taught in English (even in non-English speaking countries)! While learning the language abroad is encouraged, you don’t need to know it in order to study abroad. Additionally, you can progress towards your degree with other courses even if it has nothing to do with a foreign language!

I’m a _____ major so it will be too hard to find appropriate classes.

Any major at UMD can find appropriate classes to transfer back from their study abroad experience. If you have been dismayed by the lack of science or mathematics classes listed on our Study Abroad Course Database, it can be partially attributed to students reinforcing the myth that such majors cannot study abroad. We will work with you to find the right program for your major. Your degree should not be a hindrance to studying abroad.

I already have international travel experience; I went to ________ for spring break.

Studying abroad is not a vacation. Likewise, vacation is not tantamount to a study abroad experience. There is so much more involvement with a study abroad experience, including attending classes, immersion in a culture for an extended period of time, and a sense of residency. In other words, study abroad is not laying on the beach and eating at restaurants. Students completing our programs will increase in knowledge, cognitive complexity, self-realization, relational interdependence, humanitarianism, and they will build new life skills. Through our programs, students will be better prepared for their roles and responsibilities as global citizens. There is nothing wrong with vacations, but understand that study abroad is an entirely different experience. 

It’s too late for me to study abroad.

It is never too late to study abroad! A common misconception is that you are supposed to study abroad your junior year. This may be a statistic, but it is in no way the rule. Plenty of students study abroad during their sophomore, junior, and senior years. Some even plan enough in advance so they are able to study abroad multiple times while attending UMD. Even if you are in your last semester at UMD, you can still participate in a Winter Break, May, or Summer program.

It’s too expensive.

Let’s be honest: study abroad can be expensive. However, there are ways to keep that in perspective.

  1. Compare your program expenses to what you would be paying at UMD for the corresponding term. Remember that exchange rates, costs of living in a foreign country, and round-trip airfare can make your expenses seem exorbitant. 
  2. Financial aid and scholarships apply to study abroad just as they would at UMD.
  3. Plan ahead. With enough financial planning, you can make study abroad possible for you. In addition to UMD’s scholarships and financial aid—we encourage you to begin to research as there are a large number of additional scholarships and funding available.
  4. Lastly, our program costs vary. Some cost more, some less, and some are even similar to that of attending UMD. We’re here to help you find the program that’s the best fit for you.

Do I have to pay UMD’s tuition IN ADDITION to tuition at the university abroad?

Not for semester or yearlong programs! You only pay tuition for the term(s) you’re studying at the university abroad. However, costs for UMD short-term programs include the entire cost for the course.

Meh—I’ll travel after I graduate…

Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to travel internationally. After college, you may have loans to pay off, you may want to start your career or even a family. All of these can make international travel less of a possibility (especially for extended periods of time) after graduation. When you study abroad, you can progress towards your degree and integrate the experience efficiently rather than making it something added on to an otherwise busy life.

It’s too much of a time commitment.

Most students who study abroad wish they would have stayed longer. If the time commitment seems daunting, remember that in addition to semester and year-long programs, we offer short-term programs that run from 1–8 weeks during the school year and during breaks.

I'm going to miss out on everything back home for a whole semester.

While you may miss out on things back home, we truly feel that your friends and family are the ones missing out! When studying abroad, you get to see a different part of the world and call that place home. You’ll make new friends from all over the world, pick up a little of a foreign language, celebrate new holidays and maybe even your birthday in another country. Those are opportunities everyone else will miss out on. Step out of your comfort zone; you won’t miss out on much. We promise.