Study Abroad: A semester or a year?

28 Jul

Should you study abroad for a semester or a year? This depends a lot on what you’re hoping to accomplish.

By spending a shorter semester (like a summer term) abroad, you can have a taste of the culture of your host country without experiencing most of the more distressing aspects of culture shock (homesickness, depression, etc.) because you aren’t away from your home country for long enough to get past the “honeymoon stage” of the transition.  (I discussed culture shock in: However, you most likely won’t have enough time to immerse yourself in the culture or greatly improve your language skills.

If you have a lot of courses you need to complete for your major, you may want to spend less time studying abroad because many times the classes will not transfer exactly.  This is especially true for those of you with double majors or those majors that would require more advanced language skills.  For you, doing a single semester of study abroad may be the answer.

If you spend a year abroad you are more likely to have the opportunity to feel like a resident of rather than a tourist in your host country.  Also, the more time you spend studying abroad, the more fluent you will become in the language of your host country.  Your fluency, accent and vocabulary will increase exponentially in the time you study abroad.  In addition, if you spend a year abroad you will have the opportunity to admire the host country in all the different season that it experiences.  You can participate in all the various festivals and holidays that occur throughout the year. However, the culture shock will be greater if you spend an entire year abroad because you will become more immersed in the culture and further distanced from your own.

6 Responses to “Study Abroad: A semester or a year?”

  1. Study Abroad in New Zealand Wednesday, 6 August 2008 at 7:17 am #

    Some countries requires you to complete at least 3 months or more but It will be a great experience if you would stay for a year.

    • Michelle Thursday, 6 May 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      Which countries require you to stay for 3 months? Do you mean in order to get a student visa?

  2. pinkpangea Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 8:30 am #

    Here is a great opportunity for women travelers-

    I just started this travel blog for women and I’m collecting photos from women who spend a significant time abroad. Submit a photo of yourself in an interesting place around the world some tips for other women travelers who are going there, and we’ll link back to your blog.

    Visit our blog: and get in touch at:

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    • Michelle Thursday, 6 May 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      Rachel, Thanks for posting. I like the idea for your blog, it seems like a great resource for women travelers.

  3. ericstudycr Tuesday, 4 May 2010 at 10:35 am #

    In my experience, the culture shock curve has a tendency to adapt itself to the time that a person is overseas. Even during a 6 week trip i have observed students of mine going through some of the culture shock symtoms, maybe they aren’t as severe, but they definitely are present. The promise of leaving sometime soon buoys some folks and keeps them from truly experiencing culture shock because if is somewhat of an extended vacation.
    I wrote about 10 questions that students should ask of a study abroad program that you might find interesting as well.

    • Michelle Thursday, 6 May 2010 at 3:01 pm #

      Eric, I think that the culture shock curve is different for every individual. Some will stay overseas for as long as a year and not reach past the honeymoon stage while some may experience the entire range of symptoms in a matter of months, it really depends on the person and situation. Those are some very good questions you wrote, I look forward to reading more of your posts on them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: