August 23, 2012

4 Reasons to Take Classes at a Public University While Abroad

When you get started in a study abroad program, you will most likely be ushered through the transition to your abroad country with the help of advisors and program courses. Most abroad students take at least one course offered by the abroad program itself, and this is a good way to keep in touch with the rest of your study abroad classmates. However, as you get settled in and it comes time to choose your courses, it's a very good idea to check in to the opportunity to attend a public university. Even taking one course at a local university can offer a wealth of experience and opportunities for growth that would never have been available to you had you taken only courses offered by your study abroad program. Read on for some of the top reasons why every study abroad student should take classes at a public university while abroad: 

1. Experience the real educational culture.
When you take courses at a public university in your abroad city, you will get to see first-hand how the university system in that country actually operates. Rather than taking all your classes within the bubble of your study abroad program, taking at least one course at a local university will offer a perspective that you would not otherwise get the chance to grasp. You will get to see how local peers interact with one another, what they eat, what they do between classes, what the professors are like, and how classes are conducted. By taking classes at a real university, you will be able to leave your study abroad program knowing you actually experienced what it's like to go to college in that country. 

2. Learn the language faster.
If you really want to learn a language, take a class that is spoken only in that language. This is the absolute best way to perfect your language skills. Not only will you have to read and write in the foreign language, you will have to keep up with the professor during class and participate as best you can. This is the ultimate form of immersion, because you are immersed in the language in an academic context. 

3. Make more friends.
Taking a class at a public university is a great way to make many more friends than you would have had the chance to otherwise. When you only take classes offered through your study abroad program, you will only get to know your fellow study abroad classmates. There is nothing wrong with becoming close with the others who have decided to study abroad for that term, but you don't want to run the risk of isolating yourself and missing out on experiencing the real culture and getting to know local students. Try to go for a healthy combination of both study abroad students and local peers.

4. Get out of your comfort zone.
Taking a class in a completely foreign language in a city that you have never lived in before is definitely something that will tear you out of your comfort zone. Study abroad students have a wide array of experiences when they take courses at a local university. Sometimes it proves too difficult, and sometimes they pass the course with flying colors. Some feel isolated and some make a few friends. Either way, the experience is one you will remember for a lifetime and the challenge is something that will push you to new levels as an individual.  Regardless of how difficult it may seem, if your study abroad program allows, taking classes at a foreign university is an experience not to be missed.

Mariana Ashley writes about educational topics for and she can be reached at

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