Like many students, I thought studying abroad was an experience I just was not destined to have. I only began to consider it towards the end of my sophomore year of college. There were several reasons for deciding to pursue this opportunity. First, it gave me an excuse to travel. I did not have a lot of exposure to other cultures, and I thought this had hindered my growth and perspective as a person. Second, studying abroad would assist with the pursuit of my career and educational goals. I am planning to get a doctorate in clinical or counseling psychology, and I thought studying abroad would make me stick out from my competitors. Third, I would not be opposed to working abroad upon completing my advanced degree, and I believed that being exposed to other cultures and understanding a culture’s impact on psychological techniques, would prepare me to be a better psychologist. Finally, I wanted to challenge myself – to throw myself into the unknown and make the best of it.
The logistics of selecting a program was not as difficult as I thought it would be. The Education Abroad Office at my university was a tremendous help with the application and payment process, and I utilized their assistance frequently. I decided to study abroad the Spring semester of my Junior year. I did not want to go during the Fall semester because there was a possibility of overlapping dates with some programs. That is, the end date of the study abroad program could go past the first few days of classes of the spring semester at my home university. I selected an “exchange” program, which essentially meant that I paid the same amount of tuition as at my home university. I am an in-state student, so this worked out in my favor. In addition, it was important that I chose a study abroad program that was affordable. I chose the cheapest program in terms of housing costs as well as overall cost of living in the particular region I was looking at. Related to this last point, I applied for and received several education abroad scholarships, which helped significantly. The study abroad program I selected was the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England.
Overall, my education abroad experience was incredible, and I am humbled to have had this time overseas. I would highly recommend studying abroad as it provides valuable life lessons. I accomplished all of my goals, gained valuable insight into how culture can affect psychology, and was able to network with many professors and other students. I will end on this note: studying abroad is not an opportunity that is out of reach. There are many benefits, and with the help of your school’s Education Abroad office, it really is much more feasible than you realize!
Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.