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An International Outlook: What is Studying Abroad Full-Time Actually Like?

This article details how to study abroad full time as an American student, and what exactly that entails for you.

Photo by Katie McGinley

Have you always been searching for a way “out”? A chance to see the world, but you’re not sure how to go about it while trying to figure out your future? Look no further! Here, I’ll describe what it’s like to study abroad in college for four years.

Being seventeen and in high school is a trying time. With college applications looming on the horizon, it can be difficult to determine how you want to spend your next four years. As Sylvia Plath explains in her novel The Bell Jar, “From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.” There are so many figs, and you happen to be at the bottom of the tree!

Photo by Catherine Furby

Taking the leap

During this process, I encourage you to look further past what is immediately available to you. The world is at your fingertips. As a past American high school student, I stepped outside of the box, and now I’m finishing up my second year of studying in Dublin, Ireland.

The leap can be scary, but the most growth comes from facing the discomfort of trying something new.

Leaving my home to attend college in a new country has proved to be the best decision of my life. Not only am I receiving a wonderful education, but travel opportunities have become so much more accessible to me.

Photo by Luna Prieto

Hmmmmm. How?

If you’re wondering how to even begin seeking out applications to colleges abroad (I was too at the time), don’t worry! I will save you an eternity of research with just a few simple steps that I took.

  1. UCAS. This is the UK version of the American CommonApp. It will allow you to apply to most colleges in English-speaking countries. You send in an application in the same way you would on CommonApp.
  2. Direct Application. Some colleges require you to apply directly through the school via the website. Simply pick a college anywhere in the world and search for the international application link on their website.
  3. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to email administrators of the colleges you’re researching. If you have a question, it’s their job to answer. Calling to ask questions saved me in my application process.
Photo by Sophie Eastwood

Now here’s the fun bit…. THE TRAVEL!

Since arriving in Dublin in September of 2022, I have traveled to over ten countries around Europe on weekends and short breaks. My secret? Hostelworld and Ryanair. Being abroad already makes traveling extremely inexpensive and readily available. Do you hear all those destinations calling yet?

Check out this article for some more travel advice: Wanderlust on a Budget

The Old Library, Photo by Ella O’Kelly

You can do it!

Although I looked past America when deciding on my college, I still managed to stay within part of my comfort zone by attending university in an English-speaking country.

But if you desire more of a change, listen to what brave high school senior Hannah Bobula from the suburbs of Chicago has to say!

I’m most looking forward to being in a new and exciting environment. Experiencing new cultures and meeting new people.

Bobula

Hannah outlined her process of applying to university in Prague, Czechia. She did it all through the Common App and then had an interview with the school.

“I discovered the school on TikTok… during the pandemic. When applying to colleges, I remembered that video I saw, did research on the school, and decided that it was someplace I could see myself,” Hannah says.

Hannah has decided to attend the university starting next fall, leaving behind everything: her hometown, her country, and the language she knows!

Photo by Sophie Eastwood

Jumpstart

Studying abroad full-time is not only an immersive way to travel but can also help jumpstart a career back in the States. European universities usually do not require General Education classes, putting students two years ahead in their field of study compared to the United States. College sophomore Tayla Pike from California that attends Trinity College, Dublin, spoke about her experience.

Being a law and business major as an American studying in Europe has provided many benefits. Most notably, studying in Europe has taught me to take a comparative approach to my studies and to broaden my understanding of different legal systems and how they interact.

Pike

In this, Pike explains how attending university abroad full-time will provide her with a necessary start to her future career in America.

Take Away

If you take away one thing from this article, let it be to seize the day! There are many opportunities outside of the norm that hold a promising future, all you have to do is seek them out. Choose your fig!

Written By

Hello! My name is Katie and I'm a travel writer for Trill Mag. I'm from Chicago, but currently living in Dublin, Ireland for college at TCD. I'm OBSESSED with traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer, and writing is a wonderful outlet for all that life on the road has taught me. It's beautiful to be alive!

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