Costs vs. Benefits for College Students Studying Abroad

By Lilliana Hernandez

As a student at the University of Missouri, I’ve wanted to study abroad since freshman year, but the reality of the cost significantly impacted my decision. It wasn’t until I was in London on my first day wandering the streets that I fell in love and realized how important this experience was for my personal and professional growth. When I came to my decision, I had to weigh out the costs vs. the benefits, contemplating how it would shape my future financially and experientially and whether if it was worth it overall.

When I first heard about the study abroad program, I was instantly drawn in by the idea of exploring another part of the world, getting out of my comfort zone, and doing something that would allow me to grow independently. After long talks with my mom, advisors, and putting thoughts into it by myself there was a lot to consider. I knew every decision I make impacts me now and, in the future, therefore the financial aspect was a huge decision.

Attending the University of Missouri is already a huge investment financially before looking at the cost of studying abroad. Since I was raised by a single parent, I have learned to work hard but also consider the financial impacts before coming to a decision. As a twenty-year-old, the idea of all this money seemed overwhelming which had dampened my excitement to do so and gave me a clear mind when considering the costs vs. the benefits of studying abroad. After I weighed the financial costs against the personal and professional benefits, thinking about how it would impact my future I decided to apply and now going into the last month of my program looking back I do not regret it at all and would advise anyone contemplating it to do it. Although studying abroad is such a big decision financially and can be overwhelming it truly is an experience that I can’t put into words other than it is the best decision I have made in my life.

The first thing I had to pay for was an application fee when submitting my application to the University of Missouri which is $1,000, but since I applied early it was only $500. After I got accepted into the program I then had to begin to prepare for the upcoming months before I left.

The second significant expense I had to plan for was the nearly $600 application fee for my work visa for the United Kingdom. The other purchases I made before leaving were less expensive, but they added up.

I had to purchase business attire since I was not only attending school but also working at an internship. There were also essentials I needed for traveling, including adaptors, and a few additional things I needed before leaving the country. Overall, before leaving the country I probably spent around $3,000 which covered the cost of application fees, clothes, flights, and my essentials and necessities.

When I first arrived in London, I immediately noticed the price difference in stores compared to back home. After converting the costs from pounds to US dollars, it was clear that stores in London were significantly more expensive. After hearing how much cheaper from family and friends that Europe was, I realized that London is a more expensive location in Europe.

As I am coming up on my last month here in London before my departure home and although studying abroad comes with a high cost that can seem discouraging, it is an experience I think everyone should consider and there are so many benefits in the long run that many people probably don’t realize.

Some benefits to consider are the personal and professional growth, the number of connections you can make, the life-changing experience you can gain from it, and the list could go on. I continue to reflect on how this bittersweet journey has helped me become more independent, grow, and mature. Leaving behind family, friends, and familiarity for a new life abroad has not been easy, but it has opened my eyes to incredible places, people, and professional connections I never imagined. I’ve grown in ways I didn’t think were possible, overcoming my reliance on my family and friends.

While no words can fully capture the incredible impact of this experience, I know now that stepping outside one’s comfort zone and moving somewhere with a completely different culture can expand your perspective overall.

In my perspective, the considerable financial investment is worth it in the end for the unforgettable memories and the valuable development you gain from it. Whether you’re contemplating studying abroad or just curious about the experience there’s not something I could recommend more than this opportunity.

Hernandez is a junior at the University of Missouri.

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