UT students can gain unique experience through study abroad programs

The University of Texas has the second highest number of students studying abroad in the country and the International Office is encouraging even more students to apply. However, the idea of studying abroad can be intimidating. Not only do you have decide where to go, but you also have to plan how you are going to pay for it.  

Studying abroad is not cheap, but neither is studying at the University of Texas. In fact, semesters in some cities are cheaper than a semester in Austin. These cities typically do not top students’ lists, though. Students looking to study abroad should consider a nontraditional location as the experience can be richer and much cheaper.  

“An average price for rent in West Campus is around $700 to $800,” said management information systems junior Majid Breland, who studied abroad in the fall of 2014. “In Bangkok, that would get you a high rise penthouse in the nicest part of the city.”  

Breland continued: “I was paying around $250 a month for my own room, though. Food is really cheap, like a dollar a plate cheap if you’re eating from street vendors. Spend $5 to $10 at a restaurant and you’re living really large.” In the case of Southeast Asia, which is rapidly developing, Breland told us he found it exciting to see a part of the world that won’t be the same in 10 years. 

The understood purpose of studying abroad is to experience a culture and a way of life different than your own. Life at Western European and Australian universities, two of the most popular locations for students to study abroad, is not so different from our own. Mia Collins implores students to go to the extreme. 

Collins, a geography and international relations senior, studied for a summer in Botswana and a semester in Istanbul. Collins told us that for her, learning the local language was definitely an obstacle, but important enough that she overcame it quickly.  

“There are so many unprecedented situations where you just have to figure things out, and that’s a highly valuable skill to have,” Collins said.”Needless to say, I picked up the language pretty quickly.” 

Studying abroad in nontraditional places is cheap and doable even if you do not know the language. Students considering studying abroad but intimidated by the prices should without a doubt do it. Embrace the culture shock and take on the challenge of going somewhere far beyond your comfort zone. You’ll come out on the other side an adept problem solver and likely save a bit of money.