7 Books About Studying Abroad

Carolina Jacobs

Jul 15, 2022

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The pandemic put a damper on international travel and made studying abroad a no-go for more than two years. Now, many countries are finally beginning to reopen their borders to welcome students from all over the world. Books about studying abroad can help you plan for your next step.

If you’re planning to study abroad, there’s no time like the present to prepare your mind, body and spirit. Pick up a copy of one — or all — of the following books to read about fellow travelers and glean some wisdom from their journeys. 

1. “The Essential Guide to Studying Abroad: From Success in the Classroom to a Fulfilling Career” — Thomas Klassen and Christine Menges

If you feel overwhelmed and unprepared for life abroad, pick up a copy of this essential guide for student travelers. It tops the charts for books about studying abroad. Written in an engaging and accessible style, this book is full of useful information, regardless of where you go. Perform your best and succeed in your new environment — both in and out of the classroom — with tips from those who have “been there, done that.” More importantly, learn how to use your international education to begin a fulfilling career after graduation. 

2. “Cold Earth” — Sarah Moss

Roughly 13,500 Americans were stranded abroad when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Thanks to virus mutations and variants, history could repeat itself and have you stuck overseas. This situation obviously isn’t ideal, but you can prepare yourself for such a possibility by reading “Cold Earth.” This novel follows a British literature student on her trip to Greenland. While there, she learns that a virus has become a global pandemic and she might remain a student traveler forever. Talk about relatable.

3. “Losing North” — Nancy Huston

How does your language identify you to others? What if you know multiple languages? What does it mean to be part of multiple cultures or groups at the same time? Nancy Huston explores these and other similar questions in her book “Losing North.” This collection of personal essays showcases Huston’s reflections of her vanishing Candian identity and how she came to embrace a new identity as a citizen of the world. 

4. “A Word for Love” — Emily Robbins

Do you plan to stay with a host family while studying abroad? In this case, you’re going to want to read “A Word for Love.” This novel follows Bea, an American student who travels to Syria to study. Yet, she spends most of her time inside the walls of her host family’s home. The quiet relationships she forges with them form the crux of the story and allow you an insider look at what this living situation might look like. 

5. “The Gifts of Imperfection” — Brené Brown

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, one that’s equal parts confusion and confidence. Learn to welcome change and uncertainty and step into wholeheartedness with Brené Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection.” This book comes with the tagline “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.” If that sounds like something you want to accomplish during your travels, pick up a copy and start the soul-searching journey.

6. “Becoming” — Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” was the most popular hardcover in 2018, and it’s still an excellent read today. Worried that all the changes you face will be too much to bear? The former first lady explains that things don’t work out immediately and that’s OK. There’s a process to how things work and you just have to trust that process. This is an invaluable lesson to learn and take with you on your journey abroad. Sure, the adventure might be scary but it will change the trajectory of your life if you let it. 

7. “The Glass Castle” — Jeannette Walls

If you’re worried about uprooting your life and adapting to new surroundings in a different country, Jeanette Walls’ memoir is for you. Although the protagonist doesn’t travel from country to country, she does move from town to town. Her nomadic lifestyle doesn’t allow her to lay down roots anywhere so she’s endlessly uncomfortable, even in the places she calls home. Her story is a wonderful reminder that it’s alright to feel restless, confused and even displaced. Just don’t stop growing. 

The Big Picture

Studying abroad is a big decision, one that will change your life for the better. However, you must cultivate an open mind and heart before you embark on this journey. This way you’re more receptive, flexible and adaptable when things don’t go according to plan. As you read these books about studying abroad, remember to look at the big picture and focus on all the good things that are to come. Then, you’ll be more excited than worried, which is the best way to start any adventure.

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