Debunking Common Study Abroad Myths

Written by Walter February 24, 2020

Deciding to study abroad is a complicated and difficult decision. Leaving all of your family and friends behind (unless some of your friends decide to join you) is not an easy choice to make. Even more so, deciding to move somewhere you have never been, and possibly don’t speak the native tongue, can be daunting. While deciding whether or not to study abroad shouldn’t be a decision taken lightly, today, I hope I can put to rest some of your fears.

#1: I don’t speak the language

Many students feel as though they can’t study abroad in some place like Italy because they don’t speak the language, or that studying abroad is only for students that want to learn another language. This simply isn’t true. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn another language, but it isn’t necessary that you take classes in Italian before coming or while at CIMBA. Even if you don’t take language classes, you will learn some of the language just by communicating and living in Italy! Furthermore, a great deal of people in Europe speak English at least a little, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to communicate at all. Not speaking the native tongue is a great part of the study abroad experience. It forces you to put yourself out of your comfort zone, and not being able to understand random people on the street is a great learning experience. If you can learn to interact with people who you can barely communicate with, you will come back to the United States with a new ability to make connections with others.

#2: I don’t know anyone else going/ How will I make friends?

Leaving all your friends behind at college and coming to Italy can be a tough decision, especially if you don’t know anyone else coming to the program. I didn’t know anyone else coming to CIMBA before I signed up for the program and came to Italy, but almost everyone coming to study abroad is in the same boat. Sure, there are small pockets of friends, but for the most part no one knows anyone, or they only know one or two people. This makes it much easier to make friends. CIMBA also solves this problem with LIFE. You will take the LIFE program in either your first or second week at CIMBA, and while you may walk in as almost complete strangers, you will leave LIFE feeling like you have known your classmates for months. I can say that LIFE improved my CIMBA experience by creating long-lasting friendships almost as soon as I reached Paderno.

#3: Study abroad is too expensive

Studying abroad doesn’t have to be expensive. The actual cost of CIMBA is close to your home university price most likely. In addition, there are a great deal of study abroad scholarships available. CIMBA offers scholarships for merit, need, and for special “jobs” such as being a blogger or an RA. Your home university also likely offers some study abroad scholarships that you can apply for. I know that my school, Christopher Newport University, offered a large range of different scholarships only available for study abroad students. Lastly, the federal government, and even some companies, will give out scholarships for study abroad. All this can make studying abroad as cheap if not cheaper than your home institution. The main expense factor is travel while abroad. CIMBA highly encourages travel and I would recommend setting aside money for that purpose, but if you are on a lower budget, there are still many options. Flights in Europe are considerably cheaper than the United States. Last weekend I went to Malta and my plane tickets were only about 30 USD. There is an amazing number of places to explore in Northern Italy, and the trains or buses are very affordable.

#4 Employers don’t care

Many students believe that studying abroad will not help their careers. Whether or not a perspective employer appreciates this line on your resume, studying abroad will help your career. Studying abroad, especially at CIMBA, changes you as a person. In just a few months, you get a lifetime’s worth of experiences. As every CIMBA student has heard, “you will learn a great deal about yourself, and grow as person after you inevitably get on the wrong train, with the wrong currency, while not speaking the language.” These experiences will make you a better interviewee, and employee. Furthermore, after you study abroad, you will be able to explain the effects of the experience on you, and these rich stories and experiences will surely help you in interviews.