Friday, 22 March 2013

Studying abroad – location, location, location: it’s a tough decision

The decision on whether to study in an English-speaking country versus a more remote, far-reaching destination, where numbers of English speakers are in the minority, is something that every student has to face at some point.  Studying overseas in a country known for its high levels of English-speaking locals can serve as a comfort to some who are braving life abroad for the first time.  For most, it will be the first time they venture abroad without their parents. 

Of course, the chance to study in more exotic locations around the world can be just as appealing for those with a greater sense of adventure and the aspirations to experience new, diverse cultures and languages as part of their educational journey.  But such a decision also brings with it an element of caution and possibly even fear of the unknown.  Studying in destinations where English is not the common language can be daunting and for some, it is simply too far removed from their everyday life to even contemplate.  As such, many students will opt for the comfort of a world not too dissimilar from their own.

Those who take the plunge and stray further afield are to be applauded and encouraged; it’s a big decision and one that takes a lot of planning and research to ensure they are adequately equipped for the challenges that may present themselves; not to mention the high probability of encountering language barriers along the way. But as long as you plan for these scenarios and ensure you travel as safely as possible, experiencing new languages and cultures can be really exciting.

A recent survey however, found that simply not getting enough information is one of the main barriers to studying abroad today.  Less than half of the 11,000 British students surveyed claimed to have sufficient information to make the right decisions about where to study abroad, even though it is one of the most important choices they will ever make.  But interestingly this sounds like a familiar tune; Brits are notoriously laid back when it comes to learning languages, communicating abroad and certainly when it comes to doing the ‘boring’ research bit up front.  But as we all know, preparation is everything, and making sure you have enough information to make an informed decision on where to study abroad, is no exception.

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