Why Studying Abroad for a Full Year Is Better: Unpacking the Full Experience

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Christina Zogopoulou
May 6, 2024

I have been reflecting a lot the past few days on how much better my second semester abroad has been compared to my first one. While semester-long programs are popular, I think that spending a full year in a foreign country can significantly make your experience better. Here are some of the reasons why, in my opinion, you should go abroad for a whole year.


1. Language proficiency

For students studying abroad in a country where a different language is spoken, a full year offers an opportunity to master the language. Initial language barriers can be tough, but exposure allows for real-life practice. By living, studying, or even working/interning part-time in the local language, you can achieve a level of fluency that would not be possible when studying in a country for only four months. This fluency will also allow you to meet more locals and adjust better to the city you live in. The experience becomes more authentic and you are not struggling anymore to understand what is happening in your environment. As a result, you are able to connect with people on a different level and learn from them. This also allows you to deepen your understanding of the culture you are living in and the different habits of people who live in that country. 


2. Long-lasting friendships 

A full year gives you more time to form meaningful friendships with locals and other international students, which can be invaluable both personally and professionally. These relationships often last a lifetime. Especially if you are an introvert, having this extra time is very useful to be able to open up to people.


3. Less stress

Studying abroad for only 4 months can be really stressful as you might feel like you have to explore the city and country and make the best out of your experience in such a small amount of time. Argentina has so many places to visit and often I see students rushing through visiting places, making it feel more like checking your to-do-list rather than enjoying the moment. I like to travel more slowly so having this extra time has really allowed me to take my time to explore the city and not experience fomo or pressure to see EVERYTHINGG. 


4. Personal development and a more authentic experience 

The challenges of living in a new country for a full year foster independence, resilience, and adaptability. The personal growth that results from navigating these challenges is as one of the most rewarding aspects of long-term study abroad experiences. This experience will make you feel that you are capable to deal with any change in your life and empower you in a very beautiful way.

Studying abroad for a year also gives you the time to continue with your hobbies to the new place you are living. For example, I dance street/urban styles. In Argentina, I have been able to take dance hall and reggaeton classes, hip hop, house and so many more. Having this opportunity to see how dance is taught here has really enriched my experience and is one of my highlights during abroad. 


5. Complete seasonal cycle

Experiencing the full cycle of seasons in a new country can be really nice. It allows you to see many aspects of the country's lifestyle, from seasonal foods and festivals to changes in weather. Buenos Aires in the winter is so different from the summer. The same goes for the whole country. For example, I had the opportunity to go to Bariloche to ski during the winter. However, I have also really enjoyed the beautiful summer here. The energy is so different and the public spaces are always full of people. 


In conclusion, while the idea of spending a full year abroad might seem a scary decision to take, there are many benefits to it.  If you are someone who has commitment issues like me, you could choose to do only one semester and then if it feels right, to extend it to a whole year.  So, all I want to say is: if you have the opportunity to go abroad for a year, embrace it; you have so much to take from that experience. 

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Christina Zogopoulou

I am a travel enthusiast; originally from Greece but have lived in three different continents, including Asia, Europe, and North America. I am excited to live in Buenos Aires and love the constant movement of the city and its vibrant culture.

Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
International Relations
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