No tearful goodbye while your spouse is getting a frisky pat down by a TSA agent. No lengthy, transatlantic letters or late night Skype sessions that have the clarity of a Mars transmission. No SIM card, no problem. While it’s unconventional for students to study abroad and bring their spouses, these are the types of problems you won’t have to worry about. On the other hand, housing restrictions, special visa requirements, liability and cost are all factors that have to be addressed. However, if you’re getting to see the world with the love of your life, what are a few extra euros, let alone a college dormitory that isn’t coed?
Individualism and Self-Discovery
When you envision a study abroad program, chances are individualism comes to mind. In other words, your semester in Florence is supposed to be an opportunity for self-discovery and reflection. It’s a chance to test your inner strength. There’s a romanticism about getting to know strangers and heading out for a night of dance music. In fact, that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy movie, “Before Sunrise,” probably courses through your brain like French poetry.
An Unconventional Journey
Life, however, is nothing like the movies. Whether you’re going back to school later in life, have a partner but want to study abroad or simply got married younger than many of your peers, having a spouse shouldn’t dissuade you from studying overseas. Before you pack up your life together and hop the pond, here are three things to consider.
1. Do you remember that spacious two-bedroom apartment you had in the States? Housing in Europe is different. Chances are the accommodations are going to be small—if not downright cramped—with two people. It’s not uncommon for some Europeans to refer to their living quarters as rabbit hutches.
2. A study abroad program is not an all-inclusive vacation. Unless both you and your spouse are going to school, jobs are going to need to be found. In fact, even the person who’s attending classes will probably not have enough work-study cash to cover expenses and will need to find employment as well. The best-case scenario is to find work in your destination country before you arrive.
3. While student travel insurance would’ve been a good idea even if you were embarking on a study abroad program alone, it’s an absolute priority if you’re traveling with your spouse. In other words, the chances are greater that someone will get sick and need to visit a doctor, and seeing your significant other with the flu is worse than seeing him get a pat-down by a frisky TSA agent.
While there’s more legwork involved in traveling as a couple than studying abroad alone, the payoff in the end will be greater. Experiencing a new country and culture together will be an enriching and memorable experience. Penning your spouse a love letter, however, is still optional.