Study Abroad: Spring vs. Fall Semester
If there’s one thing I wish I knew prior to coming abroad, it’s that spring in Europe is not anything like spring in California. This shit is cold. As my study abroad experience is coming to an end, I thought I would give some suggestions for those of you who are deciding between coming in the spring vs the fall.
When I started planning to go abroad, it seemed as though it was decided for me which semester I would attend. Majority of people studying abroad decide to go during second semester of junior year. This being said, if your school holds big events, that is also a factor to consider. Michigan kids don’t want to miss football games. Tulane kids don’t want to miss mardi gras. Every school has something. But as I’m here I have started to wonder if I came for the right semester. Lets break it down.
- Easier to find a subletter – I would say the majority of kids study abroad second-semester junior year. This makes it super difficult, if not impossible, to find someone to sublease your apartment. And trust me when I say, it sucks going abroad and paying for two rents. Going in the fall gives you a ton of leeway to find someone, or to sublease someone else’s apartment while they are abroad in the spring. This is a HUGE thing to consider.
- Internships – Because the internship process takes place in the spring, this gives you an advantage over other kids. You are home and have more time to spend focusing on getting the job. Trust me, this is a pretty major.
- Airline Tickets are cheaper – This is one thing that most people don’t realize, but flying within Europe during the fall is much cheaper than during the spring.
- Oktoberfest – One of the wildest weekends of your life. Endless beer, schnitzel and Dirndl.
- Warm Weather – I feel like fall in Europe is the perfect temperature. It’s not unbearably hot but you can also get away with wearing shorts and a tank top. It’s easy to pack light when traveling, which means you don’t have to pay for extra luggage.
- Missing Thanksgiving – I don’t know about you, but going home for Thanksgiving is one of my favorite parts of the year. All your friends are home for break, so much good food and moms cooking. It would definitely be a bummer missing out on this.
- The semester is shorter – Studying abroad is truly a once in a lifetime experience so even losing out on a few extra weeks is a huge bummer.
- Limited time to travel after – After the fall program comes to an end, the weather has dropped and it’s not as convenient to spend time traveling. At this point, it is also getting close to the holidays which people generally want to spend at home.
- Time to travel after – One of the biggest pros of studying abroad in the spring is that you have the chance to stay and travel after your program ends. At this point, you have made so many new friends and you will get the chance to roam around Europe for a bit before getting back home. Most programs end in April so you have time before internships really start.
- The people – Because spring is the more common semester to study abroad, you will be surrounded by so many students/ friends from home. Having good company is one of the best things about studying abroad, so this is definitely a plus.
- Getting to attend Football Season – Obviously, fall is football season, so if you attend a school that has a good football team you will still be able to attend game days.
- St. Patricks day in Dublin – I don’t know how to describe this weekend other than pubs, pubs and more pubs.
Depending on where you decide to study abroad, the weather at the beginning is pretty cold. This not only means some days will be miserable, but your skin almost forgets what sunlight feels like. Also, packing for winter takes up way more space than dresses and sandals.
- Packing for the cold – Try to squeeze 6 pairs of jeans, and 8 jackets into a suitcase (plus all the other shit you need.) Packing for a semester in the spring is much harder than the fall. Most places you will visit are in the peak of their winter, so it is essential to bring warm clothes.
- Most places are freezing – You don’t think much about this before, but try exploring all these new cities wearing leggings under your jeans and three jackets. It gets really cold and can really affect your experience in most places.
- Internships – For internships, the job applications don’t start opening up until around January. This means that you will not only be spending significant time applying to jobs, but you will also have to find the time & good internet service for interviews. The time difference doesn’t help either. It can be a huge pain in the ass so try and plan early or just get ready for some stress.
- Seniors are gone when you return – One of the downsides of studying abroad in the spring is that when you return to school in the fall, all of the seniors are gone and the overall atmosphere is much different.
- Weight gain before Summer – Trust me, “Abroad10” is a thing. It’s no surprise that you will gain a little weight in the four months you travel across Europe, so it’s a bit of a bummer when you return home for summer and your pants don’t fit.
No matter when you go, your study abroad experience will be amazing. However before you let your emotions dictate your decision, make sure you consider all of the factors. If you don’t like the cold, I don’t suggest the spring. If you want to be surrounded with 91873819828 other study abroad students, then Spring is for you!