Pros and Cons: Studying Abroad vs. Working Abroad

After two years of being abroad for different reasons, I have a few perspectives of some of the pros and cons of both studying and working in another country.

Both of my experiences were spent in Spain with CIEE (studying in Sevilla and teaching English in Madrid), so my time abroad is undoubtably different from many others who studied or worked with other companies in different countries.13565427_10201917017083083_1549226076_n

Nevertheless, these are some pros and cons I have personally noticed:

Pros, Studying Abroad:

  • Everything is new and exciting/calling a new city and country your home
  • Experiencing a different culture from a local’s point of view
  • Taking classes in a foreign language and seeing your skills improve 
  • Earning university credits while exploring another country
  • Having the opportunity to live with a local family
  • Traveling cheaply around Europe with a student card
  • Meeting other students and making friends from around the world
  • Paying the same price as a semester at your university back home 
  • Experiencing Spanish festivals and holidays

Cons, Studying Abroad:

  • Budgeting money without an income
  • It may be a hit or miss situation living with a host family. I was blessed with a wonderful, welcoming host mom who also happened to be a former cooking instructor. Not all of my friends were so lucky. Fortunately, your study abroad program can (normally) help you switch families if you really feel uncomfortable, or you can choose to live in an apartment with other students.
  • Studying abroad may put you back a semester or more depending on your school and what you are studying (Since I spent an entire year in Sevilla, I had to do an extra semester at Elon since some classes were required to take on campus).
  • Missing friends and family back home


Pros, Working Abroad:

  • Getting to work on a student visa rather than applying for a work visa
  • Meeting and working with new people
  • Being able to feel independent vs. living with a host family
  • Hearing squeaky school children’s voices in Spanish
  • Earning money!
  • Three day weekends and time to travel
  • Plenty of tutoring side jobs available (native English speakers are always wanted)
  • Experiencing Spanish festivals and holidays
  • Navigating and learning a new city

Cons, Working Abroad:

  • Paperwork, paperwork, and…more paperwork
  • Dealing with flaky landlords
  • Paying bills! Yay adulting…
  • Living from paycheck to paycheck
  • Missing friends and family back home


I can confidently say that my study abroad experience led to my decision to work abroad as well and I haven’t regretted doing either. I’ve met many wonderful friends (and boyfriend!), my Spanish has improved, I’ve gotten to travel to new countries, I’ve experienced working in a different country’s school system, and I’ve made many unforgettable memories. I will be working in the same school next year, so my Spain adventures will continue!

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  1. Chris McKenney
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