During the first semester of my junior year, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. Since around 40% of Swatties choose to study abroad at some point, here are some pros and cons that might help you decide if studying abroad is right for you too!
You get access to new courses that aren’t offered at Swarthmore! This was really beneficial for me because, although we do have have a great Pre–Med track at Swarthmore, I got to take some different pre-med and pre-health courses that are not taught at Swat. Two of the interesting courses I took were called Medical Practice and Policy: Human Health and Disease and Neuroimaging of the Disordered Brain.
You are immersed in a new culture! As a study abroad student, you have the opportunity to learn a new language or take interesting classes that teach you about the surrounding culture. I was able to learn so much about Danish culture while living there, especially through my Anthropology of Food course.
You can try lots of good food! Trust me, you are not going to miss Sharples (our main dining hall) while you are studying abroad. I had some of the best food I’ve ever had in Copenhagen. One of my favorites is a traditional Scandinavian dish called Smørrebrød, which is basically fish on rye bread.
You may be able to travel a lot! Most study abroad students have less responsibilities than they would during a semester at Swarthmore since you are not involved in your typical clubs and activities. This means you could spend a lot of free time/breaks/weekends traveling to nearby countries if you are able. Since my program offered several courses that had travel components, I had the opportunity to travel with my Medical Practice and Policy classmates to both Germany and Poland to learn more about the health practices and policies of these European countries.
You get the chance to make new friends from all over the world! While the program I went abroad with is only open to American students, I made friends from many different colleges and backgrounds through studying in Denmark.
There will be times where you miss Swarthmore, especially your friends. This can be hard sometimes, but it’s only for a few months, and thanks to modern technology you can always keep in touch. Plus, you get to make lots of new friends while abroad!
You will be in a new environment which can be challenging sometimes, but there are always lots of resources available through Swarthmore and your program, so make sure you know how to take advantage of everything your study abroad program offers (mental health support, academic resources, etc).
It can be expensive. However, if you receive financial aid from Swarthmore, that aid will be applied to your semester abroad! It covers things like tuition, room and board, and even travel expenses and the cost of a student visa! You can always apply for merit scholarships offered by study abroad programs as well. Make sure you discuss your financial options with the Off-Campus Study Office before deciding whether or not to study abroad. (They are also a great resource to learn more about all things study abroad at Swat!)
While it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before you make the decision to study abroad, it is an amazing opportunity that will allow you to embrace new perspectives and make new friends outside of Swarthmore. I’m super excited to be back at Swat, but I’m also really glad that I got the chance to go explore another country and try new things! Until next time, farvel!
About the Author:
Hi! My name is Nadia and I’m a junior from Charlotte, NC. I am majoring in biology, minoring in psychology, and I’m also on the pre-med track. I’m a hosting intern for the Admissions Office, and I also do EEG research for the psycholinguistics lab. Aside from academics, I love taking photos (especially of Swat’s pretty campus), ordering grilled cheeses at Essie’s, and playing foosball with friends.