Antonella is one of our Essex students who studied abroad in Mexico in 2021-2022 and was also a Frontrunner in the Essex Abroad team. Antonella shares below her expert knowledge on how to decide if you are ready for a year abroad…

“Going on a year abroad can seem at first like a very easy decision. Who isn’t interested in gaining new experiences, learning a new language, and meeting new people from another part of the world? But if so, how do you know if you are ready for it? Many students are full of doubts and uncertainties that do not allow them to peacefully make a decision to embark on such an experience. Therefore, here is a list of some questions to ask yourself to dispel any doubts and help you in this decision.”

1. Will studying abroad fit your budget?

First and foremost, it's important to consider your financial situation. Going on a year abroad can be expensive, with costs including accommodation, travel, and living expenses. It's essential to plan and have a clear understanding of the financial support available to you, such as scholarships, grants, and loans. It's also important to consider how you'll manage your finances while you're away. For guidance, you can read our blog How to budget on your year abroad.

2. Is there a place that suits you?

If you're new to the idea of studying abroad, you might be wondering where to spend your time abroad, and if there is a place that could suit you better.

Your knowledge of a country may be limited to what you've seen in movies or on social media, that’s why you need to do your own research on what type of culture you're interested in exploring, and what challenges you are willing to face (e.g. food, weather conditions, language etc.). Consider what grabs your interest about a potential destination, whether it's the language, environment, or cultural traditions. These factors will guide your decision and help you be prepared on what’s coming next.

3. Do you have experience living on your own?

To have lived away from family before studying abroad is not a requirement, but it can certainly help you prepare for the independence you'll experience. Whether you've lived in a dormitory or your own apartment, you've taken on significant responsibilities in the past. These experiences can be valuable when constructing a new life in a foreign country but if not, it doesn’t mean you are not ready for it. Ask yourself if living on your own is a thrilling experience that you want to deal with.

4. Are you ready to leave your comfort zone and embrace a new culture/life?

Living in a foreign country means to leave behind whatever makes up your safe place (your house, friends, food) to encounter new customs, beliefs, and attitudes. Take the time to reflect on your own feelings and motivations for going on a year abroad. Are you comfortable with being away from family and friends for an extended period? Do you feel enthusiastic about creating a new routine with new habits and new people? Do you have any health or medical concerns that need to be addressed before you leave?

5. Will studying abroad help you meet your long-term goals?

Explore which benefits a year abroad can bring you on both a personal and an academic level.

Students decide to go abroad for many different reasons; investigate which benefits you might gain, which opportunities you might experience, which responsibilities you might have to take on and which challenges you may face. Explore your motivations and it will help you understand if it is a worthy decision and if you are ready to make it!

The most important aspect of determining whether studying abroad is the right decision for you is through realistic mental preparation. If you have carefully considered the above-mentioned questions, it is a sign that you are ready for such an exciting journey. If you haven’t, no need to panic, take your time to reflect, do your research and the answer will be more simple than you expected.

Despite how well-prepared you may be, studying abroad will surely be full of surprises and challenges, which can be one of the most thrilling aspects of the experience.

If you are thinking of a year abroad and would like to know more about Essex Abroad programmes then visit our dedicated webpages.

You can also visit our linktree to register for our upcoming events, sign up for our newsletter and book a one-to-one call with the team.