The Top 5 of False Reasons I Always Told Myself Not To Go the U.S.

DSC00816   After three exhilarating months in the United States, I have a hard time realizing that I used to be one of those students deeply convinced that studying abroad was “just not for me”. Time to list what used to be my most convincing arguments:   1. “My English is not good enough” Highly unlikely! Nobody expects your English to be perfect! It only has to allow you to enjoy your experience in the US to the fullest. (Trust me it will!) If you really doubt your English proficiency; to measure is to know! Do not longer hesitate: enroll (and prepare!) yourself for the TOEFL-test.   2. “My academic results are not good enough” Relax! Remember that people often like to show off! Do not blindly stare upon general rules such as “you have to be a top 10-student”. You will always find a rule of thumb telling you that you do not qualify. In general, one has in the US a far more diverse definition of what it means to be “successful”. Look with an open mind at your own strengths and dare to display them: Were you engaged in a volunteer project? Have you studied in another language than your mother tongue? Are you sports addicted? Or just extremely passionate?   DSC00945   3. “I will never be able to pay for a study year abroad” Inform yourself! Do not trust your future to rumors: inquire and be realistic. Moreover, as Belgians we are extremely lucky to have a lot of different possibilities to fund a study year in the US. Question yourself: Do you already know about all of the following organizations: Fulbright (CHECK!), BAEF, Vocatio, Fernand Lazard,…?   4. “I am not the international type” Think again! There is a first time for everything! Are you open to new experiences? Do you like to challenge yourself? Are you prepared to be flexible? You will be fine! Top American universities attract people from all over the world, with all possible backgrounds, who are passionate about the same field as you: chances are slim you will not find someone to connect with! In addition, Fulbright helps you out with all the practicalities. (That reminds me: Thank you very much Ali for all the reassurance during the visa-process!)   DSC00707   5. “I will miss my family and friends” Chances are high that you will not! You will be so busy discovering your new environment and friends that the home front will be complaining about your lack of emails and blog posts before you have even time to realize it. (I plead guilty: Sorry dear friends! I will make it up to all of you!)   And maybe I should add one last deceiving argument:   6. “I missed my chance” It is never too late! Personally I only started to think about studying in the US some time after graduation. However, having some professional experience turned out to be a real advantage: I can put everything into perspective and know exactly what I want to get out of this year. Moreover, most American and International students studying at the graduate level equally have some professional experience. We, for example, all have to dig up those long forgotten study skills.   If you recognize yourself in any of these arguments then it is time for action! Enroll yourself for the TOEFL-test, think about your own strengths, make inquiries about your financial options, search for the American institution that perfectly suits your dreams and aspirations, … and maybe we will be reading your enthusiastic blog posts on this same webpage in the near future.   — Els Vandensande   IMG_4420]]>