Disadvantages of studying abroad (2023)

As you begin planning your study abroad experience, it's natural to anticipate the most exciting aspects of your trip. And while you're bound to experience some real-life movie moments, those high expectations may confuse your perception of the reality that awaits.

So, before you start planning, consider these 5 disadvantages of studying abroad:

  1. Language barriers and culture shock
  2. you're alone
  3. Studying abroad is expensive
  4. Your credits cannot be transferred
  5. Your home country's health insurance may not cover you abroad

Read on to discover tips and advice to help you overcome these challenges!

Disadvantage #1: Language barriers and culture shock

Effective communication is essential to your success as a student abroad. When faced with a language barrier, it is important to know what language level is expected of you.

Are classes taught in the local language? Do your teachers expect you to be fluent in writing and speaking? Will you be able to communicate with other students and locals?

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Disadvantages of studying abroad (1)

You may also feel shaken by the sudden culture change. Everything from food and religious practices to transportation systems and clothing styles can differ from your home country.

unfortunately thatculture shockcan lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety and homesickness. If you're not willing to deal with these differences, they can create significant stress—even in situations where you're doing the most mundane tasks.


  • Contact potential programs and universities to see if they offer courses in your language.
  • UseOnline language programSandTranslation and navigation appsbefore you set off - save driving directions and common phrases and track important routes.
  • Find areas most likely to be inhabited by people who speak your native language; Contact international students and places from your home country.
  • Subscribe to a student travel blogand read about the study abroad experiences of others.
  • Join a chat forumDirect questions to former students abroad.
  • Research cultural and regional norms and expectations before you go.

BoxThis infographic provides tips for dealing with culture shock.

Disadvantage #2: You're on your own

Just navigating through an unfamiliar destination can be a very intimidating experience. You may be experiencing a degree of independence for the first time. Perhaps you have never lived alone or traveled outside your home country.

Disadvantages of studying abroad (2)

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Because some of the worst symptoms of culture shock (sadness, anxiety, feelings of isolation, or alienation) can come from realizing that you no longer have friends and family by your side, it's important that you are fully prepared for this transition.


  • Ask your student advisor for the email address of a student mentor and contact them.
  • Once you have enrolled in study abroad courses, use the student list to do sosocialize and socializewith your classmates or ask your teacher for advice or recommendations.
  • Join a club orvoluntary organizationoffered by your host programme/institution or host city.
  • If you travel abroad via aStudy abroad organization, contact the program advisors and volunteers who are on hand to help.
  • Stay informed about apps such as B. Stay in touch with your family and friendsVibereSkype.

Disadvantages of studying abroad (3)

Disadvantage #3: Studying abroad is expensive

Travel expenses, tuition fees, room and board, books and consumables, additional costs, local transport and general living expenses can quickly add up when studying abroad. In fact, the International Institute of Education estimates that theaverage cost of studying abroadat about $18,000 per semester.

Disadvantages of studying abroad (4)

Depending on your chosen destination, university, and study abroad organization (and whether you have a part-time job, scholarships, or financial aid), your expenses can vary greatly.

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  • Start planning ahead and secure a scholarship iie.com can help you find hundreds of study abroad scholarships, fellowships, fellowships and paid internships.
  • Check with your program or institution to determine if you are eligible for financial assistance (or if your financial assistance will be transferred to a pre-approved program).
  • Plan and save money in advance; fill them outcost sheetprovided by Michigan State University to calculate the total cost of your program!
  • Don't just check the currentexchange rate, but your history over the past year or two and consider how currency fluctuations might affect your budget.
  • Buy or rent used textbooks from sites likeChegg,Book rental on campus, zAmazonas.
  • Do extra work to make quick money before traveling abroad. If you are interested in working abroad, take a look aroundgoabroad.com(but attention to work regulations for international students).

Study abroad in the US? look at thisFREE Financial Aid Guide for International Students!

Disadvantage #4: Your credits may not transfer

Worst case scenario: An international university or study abroad program offers you an invitation to study abroad. You are happy to accept and earn multiple credits during your studies, but return home to find that your international credits do not carry over to your home college or university.

Not only have you spent large sums of hard-earned money on international courses that don't count towards your degree, but this potential setback could prevent you from graduating on time.

In most cases, your current university offers the study abroad programs with the credits it accepts. However, if there is a specific program or university that you wish to attend outside of the pre-approved programs, your university may be able to arrange an exception - but not always.

Disadvantages of studying abroad (5)

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Luckily, you can ensure your credits are transferred to your home university by following the steps below.


  • Make sure your college or study abroad program is accredited.
  • Have your study abroad loans approved by your home universityBeforeaccept an invitation to study abroad - this will keep you on course for graduation.
  • Get at least twice as many pre-approved courses as you actually want to enroll abroad - this ensures you have options if your courses of choice are canceled or fully booked.
  • If you need to enroll in a course that is not pre-approved, contact your home university immediately - staff can still approve your courses after you have left.
  • Find out if your credits will count automatically, or if you'll need to apply for credits when you return to your home country.
  • Keep records of your courses and work so that you can answer any questions from your home university about your achievements abroad.

If you're an American student and need some extra help, this is definitely something you should check outGuide to transferring loans from abroad to the USA.

Disadvantage #5: Your home country's health insurance may not cover you abroad

Like many people, you can assume that your home health insurance will cover you when traveling outside of your home country. Some domestic health insurance plans provide coverage for an unexpected injury or illness that occurs while abroad, but coverage levels may vary. Other home country health plans do not provide international coverage, meaning you may be solely responsible for any costs resulting from unforeseen medical treatment.

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Most schools and study programs abroad require health insurance for this reason. And while they may offer their owninternational student health insurance, this is not necessarily your only option. You can research and purchase your own student health insurance plan - as long as you can demonstrate comparable coverage.

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  • Check your domestic health insurance coverage or contact your insurance company to determine if you have international coverage (and if that coverage is adequate).
  • Talk to an advisor at your school or program to see if you can purchase a student health plan of your own.
  • Determine your program's health insurance and visa requirements.
  • considerwhich benefits are most important to you. (For example, you might want a plan that offers some sports coverage or prescription drug coverage.)
  • Research international health plans for studentsCompare prices and services.

Remember:Studying abroad on a budget doesn't mean you have to settle for health insurance. Quality student health insurance can offer affordable plan options and maximum total benefits of $200,000 or more.

learn more aboutinternational student health insuranceorCalculate your StudentSecure offer now!


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