Why You Should Study Abroad The Summer After Your Freshman Year

Written by Drew November 18, 2015

Photos from travel week: The Lennon Wall in Prague

Arc de Triomphe in Paris

Eiffel Tower in Paris

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

So you, the college freshman, just moved to a new city, made new friends, created countless memories, and most importantly, survived your first year in college. Congrats, you made it! But what’s next for you?

How about adding studying abroad to your extensive list of new experiences?

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I find the best time to study abroad for the first time is the summer after freshman year. I’m going to dedicate this post to going into more detail as to why I believe this notion.

Before I elaborate on that topic, I’ll go ahead and commence my weekly life update. 

I’m currently still nursing a travel week hangover. I don’t think I’ve been this tired in my entire life. Who knew I could feel this old at 22 years old? Yeah, definitely not me. Travel week brought the cities of Venice, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, and Prague. These cities were amazing and I’m elated to say I spent time in all of them.

On a separate note, I’m still attempting to figure out how I survived all that traveling. Nonetheless, I made it, and I’m back on the blogging grind. Bring it on.

Back to the previously stated topic of this post, why should you – the college freshman – study abroad following your first year on campus?

Let me elaborate using my situation.

Following my freshman year of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. A lot of my friends were taking summer course, but I had no desire to sit in a classroom all summer. Upon failing to land an internship (well, I did, but that’s a long story), I decided to return to my high school job bagging groceries at a local grocery store.

However, never once did I consider studying abroad for that summer. Honestly, I don’t even think I was aware it was an option.

So, college freshman, check this out. Studying abroad during your first college summer is an option. A great one at that. And if you are considering studying abroad, highly consider exploring the world your first summer off campus. Here’s why.

#1. Get ahead of schedule with classes.

Remember how I mentioned I didn’t want to sit in a classroom all summer following my freshman year of college?

Well, I realized when I decided to go abroad for the first time that I was behind on classes. It wasn’t until this moment did I realize that I needed to take summer classes in order to graduate within four years.

Prior to studying abroad your freshman year summer, you will meet with your academic and study abroad advisors to find the program that best fits your academic and travel desires. At this point, you find out what classes will help you graduate within your specific time frame.

In turn, you will more than likely end up ahead of schedule in classes and will help you configure your four year plan early in your college career. That’s where point number two comes in. Stay tuned.

#2. Configure your four year plan early in your college career.  

So here’s a fun story for you that goes hand-in-hand with the previous point.

After my freshman year of college, I decided I was going to go on a semester program in Spain. At this point in my college career, I was going at my class schedule blindly. I had no four year plan. And that was a big mistake.

I was one day away from purchasing my plane ticket when I realized that the program was not going to work out with my four year academic plan. Definitely a tough situation for me, but it’s something everyone can learn from.

It wasn’t until this point that I decided I needed to get a four year plan together. You know, it seems pretty simple, but it’s something some college students don’t plan out.

Please avoid the mistake I made.

So how can studying abroad after your freshman year help you get ahead with classes?

Like I mentioned with the previous point, you are going to meet with your academic advisor prior to studying abroad that summer. Your advisor will go through your four year college plan to find classes that fit your needs.

#3. Catch the travel bug early in your college career.

What do you know? I’m writing about catching the travel bug once again. Whatever. It’s my blog post. I can do whatever I want with it, okay?

In a previous blog post, I wrote about how the travel bug has affected my life, but I would absolutely love to reiterate that point. I won’t go into much detail, but I just wanted to make sure this point was covered in this post. 

If you catch the travel bug during your freshman year summer, you’ll have numerous options to study abroad throughout the rest of your college career. Simple as that.

#4. Avoid returning to your high school job.

It’s not the easiest endeavor to land an internship as a freshman. 

I remember basically getting laughed at and labeled cute for attempting to find an internship at the career fair my freshman year. A lot of employers aren’t looking to hire freshman.

As a result, a lot of students, including myself, resort to their high school jobs following their freshman year of college. It’s not a terrible thing, but just think about the experience you can receive in a foreign country as opposed to bagging groceries all summer.

By studying abroad as opposed to going back to your high school job, your resume will also be much improved following your time abroad. I mean, does a summer in a foreign country look better than you high school job? 

I think you can make the call there.

 #5. Gain short-term study abroad experience.

One thing I’m fortunate for was completing a short-term study abroad program prior to a semester-long program.

Studying in Spain for a winter allowed me to gain experience in all aspects of study abroad. Here are a few things I learned during my time in Spain.

  • How to survive without a phone
  • What to expect from an international flight
  • The best way to meet new people abroad
  • How to balance class and traveling
  • How to deal with different currency
  • How to pack for studying abroad.

I could probably go for a while with that list. However, I was able to learn all of these aspects and much more before moving abroad for a semester. I took what I learned from Spain and translated it to my semester long program in Italy.

That’s where studying abroad during your freshman year summer comes in.

You can take your experience from your short-term study abroad experience and translate it into your next study abroad adventure whether it be another summer, winter, semester, or year-long program.

To wrap up this extensive post, I find the best option to study abroad for the first time is during the summer following your freshman year. By completing a study abroad program during this time period you can experience these numerous benefits.