Why are Summit Students Moving Abroad?

By Hannah Kenneth, News Editor

During the college research process, one can’t help but be entranced by the rustic brick buildings of historic New England schools and the sun-soaked, palm tree-lined campuses of California schools. Coupled with the prestigious academic reputations that flank many of these universities, one might wonder why you would ever need to leave the U.S. for college. Newsflash: there’s a lot of reasons. 

Perhaps spurred by the sudden claustrophobia of COVID-19, many are virtually escaping their own four walls for faraway places. 

“I think, because of COVID-19, everyone wants to get out of the house, whether that means leaving the country entirely or just going on a weekend trip,” said senior Amy Morrison, who will be attending the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

Going to university in a country other than your own doesn’t always seem like the obvious choice, but the omnipresence of social media and the connectedness of the world have opened eyes and doors to this possibility. 

“I originally started thinking about going abroad for college right at the start of quarantine, and thought ‘why not,’” said senior Kayla Muller. 

Although the tech age has made travel and education more accessible, there are a variety of reasons people choose to study or attend college abroad. Location, post-degree opportunities and proximity to family are all important factors to consider, however, these eventually make way for the biggest tyrant—cost. 

The truth is, college ain’t cheap. In fact, the average cost of attending a private American university before aid is around $41,000 a year. That’s enough money to go on a 20 week-long cruise.

“It is ridiculous how expensive college is here, and my family straight up can’t afford to send both me and my sister to an American college,” Morrison said. 

Plus, Morrison will get her first year free because of her New Zealand citizenship. Dual citizenship proves to be a very important first step in attending college abroad. It usually makes things cheaper and a lot of times the transition and culture shock will be lessened. 

“My family is Italian and we have citizenship so that was a big factor. Now I can go for way cheaper and have all the perks of EU citizenship,” said Miya Ruane, who is planning to attend Istituto Marangoni in Paris. 

The average cost for a year of studies in France is about $3,000. Add that to the more expensive cost of living—about $10,000 a year—and you’ll find it’s still much cheaper to leave America. Despite what many think, living abroad might not be so expensive after all.

“I know a lot of people see it as a money barrier but tuition and scholarships can be really good,” Muller said. 

Even without dual citizenship, Muller is choosing to pursue her education in Rome, showing anyone can make it work with the right attitude. 

“I wasn’t super passionate about any places in America,” Muller said, “but the [John Cabot University] international affairs major was exactly what I wanted to do, and doing that abroad is going to be such an amazing experience.”

In recent years, it seems that more and more students choose to ditch America for a more diverse experience. According to the Institute of International Education, each year sees an increase in those choosing the path overseas. For the most part, a single motive has tied all these students together. 

“College is your way away from home and your chance to see the world in your own eyes. I think that going abroad and experiencing a new culture is really appealing to some, and to me too,” said Avery Shea, who plans to go to school in Canada.  

This wanderlust isn’t a new idea either. It has permeated generations of hopeful adventurers with bright eyes and hope for the future. 

“I think most people decided to go abroad, when I went, just for the different experiences it offered,” said Kristy Knoll, Dean of Students and AP Coordinator. “People just wanted to get out and see the world.”

Knoll opted to study in Histon, a small town outside of Cambridge, England, to fulfill this desire as well as to incorporate her studies with the stimulating environment around her. Ruane also notes this as one of her reasons for attending a school located in Paris—the prominent fashion capital of the world. By immersing yourself in the optimal environment for your future, success may come much easier. 

Despite all the positive reasons to study abroad, many are influenced to leave the U.S. by negative aspects such as politics, unsatisfactory social culture and lack of diversity. 

“I think it’s very divided here right now politically and socially,” Muller said, “I also prefer the way [Italian] culture works. I like to put a lot of effort into things, which isn’t as common in America, where everything is so fast-paced.”

It’s not unusual for one to feel more connected to another culture. The tired saying of “I was born in the wrong generation” but flip it to “I was born in the wrong country” sometimes rings true. 

 “I do really admire the culture,” Ruane said about Italy. “In America, there’s a bigger emphasis on work that isn’t as creative, [in Rome] it’s more accepted.”

There seems to be a general consensus that America isn’t the most stable of countries politically nor the most expressive, but are these social changes really at the root of a mass exodus? People leave for a variety of reasons, so it’s impossible to give a concrete answer. Whether it be finally allowing their inner adventurer to break out, or because American college is just too damn expensive, I think I’ll take that cruise instead.

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