An important thing to think about when deciding to study abroad is whether to go alone or with a friend. Studying abroad is one of the best chances for students to step out of their comfort zones and grow; it’s important to weigh both options so that you can create the most rewarding experience for yourself. Here are some of the positive aspects to each side.
Benefits of studying abroad alone:
1) Make your own itinerary. Going solo means you can plan to study abroad at a time that works for you and your college career. You can also choose where you want to go based on your own likes and interests, without compromising with anyone else’s. Also, when you get to your host country and want to explore, you’ll always have the freedom of doing whatever you want. You will never feel held back or guilty for not wanting to go where your friend does.
2) Find yourself. Studying abroad is one of the best ways for students to take time to self-reflect and discover themselves and their true passions. Being alone will almost force you to grow. Just think about it: you’ll be in a new place possibly learning a new language, trying new activities, eating new foods, and meeting new people. You will uncover new things you like, discover your strengths and weaknesses, and realize how comfortable you are in your own solitude. In doing so, you’ll develop a complete love for yourself and return stronger than you were when you left.
3) Expand your network. Being alone will push you to be your complete self, while forging new friendships with locals and other exchange students from around the world. The people you meet abroad will become your true friends and you’ll come home ready to travel the world to see them again.
4) Develop your independence. Living in a new country by yourself will teach you to be less dependent on other people. You will learn to solve problems on your own and adapt to ambiguous situations. Nothing says independent like being able to navigate through a foreign city on your own without knowing the language!
Benefits of studying with friends:
1) Strengthen your friendship. Studying abroad with a friend or a group will bring you closer together because you will learn so much about each other. Traveling with someone is the best way to discover his or her true personality!
2) Have someone to reminisce with after you return. When you return home from your study abroad trip you will have a million memories to share with everyone around you. While they will be interested in your trip, often times they wont have much to offer the conversation because they did not share these experiences with you (especially if you're speaking to someone who has never traveled to your host country).
3) Have an automatic friend if you’re shy. Some people have trouble introducing themselves to others. Having a more outgoing friend with you while you study abroad can help to at least break the initial ice and get you started on developing new friendships within your exchange student group!
Hopefully by reading about the benefits of both studying abroad alone and with friends, you’ve been able to self-reflect and choose what’s right for you. If you’ve already signed up go with friends and now believe the pros of going alone outweigh that, maybe you can discuss it with them and establish a balance of the two so that you are on the same page once you get there.