Elizabethtown College
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Elizabethtown, PA 17022
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Myths about Study Abroad


Wicklow Hills, Ireland

Misinformation is a leading cause of why many students chose not to study abroad. Here, we will bust many myths that students may believe:

Myth #1- “I can’t afford to study abroad!”


In many cases, studying abroad can cost less than a semester at Elizabethtown College, depending on the study abroad provider, location, and duration of the program.  (See Cost tab) However, you must also consider additional expenses that you will encounter while abroad. 

The cost of studying abroad varies by program, location, and duration of stay. Some countries like Australia, Japan, and the UK, for example, have a much higher standard of living compared to African and South American countries.

There are many scholarships that are given out just for students who want to study abroad! It would be in YOUR best interest to plan ahead and apply for these scholarships before the last minute. (Check out our Scholarships Tab).


Myth #2- “I don’t have time to study abroad because of my major”


Every major is able to study abroad. It is true that some majors are more lax about when a student can study abroad. If your major is one of those that only offer a course during spring semester every other year, PLAN AHEAD! Schedule a meeting with your advisor and plan out every class you have to take and when you can take it. That way, you will know which semester is open to study abroad. Ideally, it’s best to begin planning for study abroad already in your first year at Etown.

With some majors, it is wise to save your core classes for while you are abroad. However, there are programs and Universities that offer courses that are for your major. This would definitely help if you feel like you cannot get your required classes done in time. 

If you still think you don’t have an entire semester to study abroad, then consider a Winter, May or summer study abroad program!


Myth #3- “I won’t graduate in time if I study abroad”


This myth goes along with Myth #2 – you just have to plan ahead! In fact, research shows that students who study abroad have a higher 4-year graduation rate than those who do not study abroad.  During the study abroad application process, you will receive a course approval form which will be approved by your academic advisor and the Registrar.  By receiving pre-approval for your courses, you can ensure that that classes you take abroad will count for graduation.


Myth #4- “Study abroad is only for people who are fluent in another language”


While there are programs available which are rigorous in a foreign language, many programs and universities offer classes that are in English or are for English speaking students. Keep in mind that many countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, India, and South Africa, English is the first language. We offer many programs that do not require a foreign language experience.

However, if you do have experience with your host country’s language, it will come in handy with communication. Your language skills will do nothing but improve as a result from studying abroad. For more information about choosing between a foreign language program or an English-language program, see the How to Choose a Program tab.


Myth #5- “All study abroad programs and locations are the same”


Every location offers a different learning and cultural experience. If you chose to go to a Western, English-speaking country, expect some similarities to your home life (there will still be many differences). If you go to a non-Western or foreign-language-speaking country, expect to be immersed in a culture that is entirely different from your own. That being said, many countries, particularly in Europe, have very rich cultural backgrounds. Be aware that though a country may seem “the same” on the surface, it will in fact be subtly very different from your own country. Don’t be fooled by initial impressions and stereotypes.


Myth #6- “People typically study abroad in Europe”


The 2015 Open Doors Institute of International Education Assessment states that four out of the top 10 leading study abroad destinations are not in Europe! (China, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan) Although that leaves 6 of the top 10 destinations to be in Europe, this is beginning to change. Many countries that were once unpopular to travel to are opening study abroad locations that are safe and offer a unique experience. The percentage of students studying abroad in Sub- Saharan Africa as well as Latin America and the Caribbean continues to increase, while the percentage of students traveling to Europe has decreased.

Studying abroad looks great on a resume or graduation school application. It shows that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, you are able to adjust to a new location, and that you have a worldly view. You can enhance this by studying in a non-traditional location! Potential employers recognize that a different set of skills is developed when studying and living in a non-traditional location. If you study abroad somewhere other than Europe or Australia, you may show potential employers that you are flexible and are willing to go places that others are not.


Myth #7- “I can’t study abroad there; it’s not safe!”


Elizabethtown College’s top priority for any study abroad program is student safety. The programs that we affiliate ourselves with are approved with your safety in mind. Students are not allowed to study abroad or travel to areas that have travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State. However, you must also be aware of where you are and use common sense when traveling abroad. You must always be aware of your surroundings, and avoid looking too “American”, in order to avoid looking vulnerable. It would be wise to research locations you are interested in and keep in mind your own cultural assumption when encountering new situations.

After acceptance into the program, the Study Abroad Office and host country program will provide mandatory pre-departure and arrival orientations that outline health and safety expectations. You will also have access to in-country resident advisors upon arrival who will also be able to give you the latest safety tips for whatever country you are studying abroad in.                                                            


Learn more:

Busting the Top Ten Study Myths

Open Doors Report

Elizabethtown College Study Abroad Office