Go Abroad, Stay Abroad?

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Written by  March 14, 2016

The case for extending your time overseas beyond your study abroad term.

No one ever wants their time study abroad to end, especially once you start to feel at home in a new city or country. Maybe your new home started to become the place you want to stay for the next few years. Maybe you found a graduate program that you’d like to pursue. Or maybe you just love being abroad and you need more time to get the wanderlust bug out of your system before heading back to your home country. 

If you want to extend your stay, it’s okay to take time off from your life back home if you’d like to pursue opportunities in a new country or city. The reality is that this is the norm for many young people; many European and South American students take time off before pursuing a graduate degree or starting to work towards a career path. Time off can come in the form of a six-month backpacking trip, WWOOFing, being an au pair or volunteering abroad. Many American students are starting to do the same as well. If you’d like to extend your stay to take time off, go ahead and do it. You aren’t the only one who has or will do the same thing.

 

Being abroad for longer durations will open your mind to new life paths or lead towards a confirmed or renewed self identity.

Being young, you might not necessarily know exactly who you and what you want to do yet. That’s why it’s so great to get out and see the world now. How are you going to figure out who you are unless you’ve experienced what the world has to offer? Meeting people, experiencing different cultures and ultimately learning more will allow you to open your mind to new possibilities. Most of the time being abroad for longer durations will open your mind to new life paths or lead towards a confirmed or renewed self identity. When you're put in new situations, you tend to figure out what you really want to do with your life and what interests. You end up on adventures that lead to self-discovery.

That’s why everyone should consider extending their study abroad experience. Even if you need to return to your home country for a few months to finish school, you can always make a plan to come back or a plan for future travels. The main objective is to continue to embrace and experience life abroad. Living how other people live will open your eyes to so much more than you could ever imagine. Just like learning a new language or studying at a foreign university will. Those experience probably have already if you are currently in midst of studying abroad.

A few questions you can try to answer now are:

What are the visa or residency requirements for working and living abroad like in the country you want to stay in?

What job and other opportunities are available for you?

What do you want to get out of your experience by staying longer?

Pay attention to the last question! The answer will help to define where you want to work, what you want to do or how you plan to spend your time abroad after extending. Your thoughts can help guide potential community and cultural involvement as well! Look for things that will broaden your learning experience. Knowledge is power, and it is also good for the soul! Maybe someday you will end up living in the country you are staying in, so it never hurts to start to become a part of it as well.

Extending your stay is much more than just a continuation of your travels. You will become even more immersed in your surroundings, to the point where you might just find yourself the home away from home you were looking for. So extend your stay, you never know where it might lead you.

 

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Abigail Zeitler

Abz Zeitler is a communications student from The University of Texas. She is studying abroad at University of Amsterdam in 2016 and frequently volunteers in Africa with IVHQ and African Impact.  

Website: theresnosuchthingasanexcuse.tumblr.com

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