Benefits of Study Abroad
When you study abroad your education grows exponentially faster than if you stay home. You live and learn in your host culture; every interaction is an opportunity to learn, and to share your culture with others. Your experience will translate into tangible benefits throughout your life:
- You will see historic monuments and famous art first-hand.
- You will experience an academic system of another country.
- You will experience the complexity of another culture, including another language or dialects.
- You will discover yourself and our world in new ways.
If you ask anybody who has studied abroad, most will tell you that it is a life-changing experience and one of the most rewarding things he or she has ever done. Are you still not certain what benefits you can reap from an extended stay in a foreign country?
Here are some excellent reasons why you
should go where you want to be!
Start making the most out of your everyday and become a full-time learner.
Traveling outside the United States will be an education in itself. There's no need to limit yourself to a classroom; while studying abroad you will be able to become a 24/7 student, from the student lounge to the city streets. Study abroad for a few weeks or a year; don't let time constraints hold you back, just work around them. Many students who go abroad report that, in addition to enjoying and learning in their weekly classes, they learned some of the most valuable lessons outside of the classroom. Weekend excursions to museums and cultural sites add to your academic and personal growth. While in a foreign country, even mundane activities like shopping for groceries become an educational adventure.
Become fluent in another language.
For those of us who have toiled at learning another language, we know the way to truly become fluent in a language is to be immersed in it. If you've studied a language for several years and wish to gain fluency in that language, studying abroad is a vital way to make that wish come true. Even if you haven't studied languages at all, many programs don't require any previous foreign language. They also offer intensive language courses alongside English classes, or as the core purpose of the study abroad program.
Learning a foreign language will make you more attractive to future employers, improve your communication skills, and give you a first-hand insight into local culture. As well-known among sociolinguistics, grasping another language will help you appreciate literature, music and film in that language, and better understand the culture in which you live.
Improve your academic, professional and financial potential.
International experience is a critical and impressive part of any resume. In addition to the personal growth you'll undergo while overseas, the international and cross-cultural interpersonal skills you'll develop will certainly expand your employment opportunities and, consequently, your income potential in our increasingly globalized society. Globally-minded employees are in high demand. Many companies seek out individuals with multi-lingual and multi-cultural experience and skills.
What is more, while studying abroad, students can also take advantage of internships for an international work experience that is highly valued among U.S. employers. Your newly acquired skills will strengthen your resume in America's increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse workforce. Furthermore, students typically make great gains in personal confidence and gain valuable insights into their own culture.
Take control of your future by exposing yourself to new paths.
During your time abroad, you will be exposed to countless different experiences that will influence the rest of your life. Some students even end up changing their major or career path as a result of the new things they learn from being abroad. Others discover a newfound passion for travel, decide they want to work abroad, or desire to learn a new language. After studying abroad, you may find your travels have had a profound influence on your career or personal goals.
Gain a competitive edge for graduate school.
If you wish to continue with your higher education into either a masters or a doctorate, study abroad experience will give you an edge on the competition. Graduate programs, law schools, and medical schools all look favorably on such global experience. You never know who may be impressed by your travels.
Acceptance into graduate school is competitive. When you study abroad, you gain many skills which will appeal to graduate school admissions committees, such as:
- You will be prepared to adapt to unfamiliar environments.
- You will be able to learn from different teaching styles.
- You will be able to effectively communicate among diverse groups.
- You will have a willingness to challenge yourself and your comfort zones.
- You will attain knowledge of a foreign language.
Fight stereotypes by educating others about what you represent.
There is a distinct challenge everyone faces abroad. Many other cultures only have experience with different ethnic groups through the American media (e.g. news, sports, music, and movies). Students may become frustrated when the same stereotypes from home follow them overseas. However, study abroad is a unique opportunity to educate others about who you are as an individual and as a group: you can communicate your own experiences in the United States in comparison to what others see and hear. This is your chance to be an individual, as well as a representative of your culture, and to encourage positive understanding of global diversity.
Dispel your own stereotypes.
In addition to serving as a cultural ambassador to dispel other's misconceptions, studying abroad gives you a chance to break down some of your own stereotypes about other countries and peoples. Not only will you have the chance to immerse yourself in another culture, you will also meet people from different backgrounds and make personal connections with people that you may have never expected. Learn to interact with people who may not necessarily think or communicate like you.
Gain perspective by broadening your world experience.
There are countless amazing sites around the world: experience different natural landscapes and climates that do not exist in the United States, and see historical landmarks in countries that have shaped world history. Expand your knowledge of the world by actually getting out there, seeing it, and touching it; pictures in text books do not do justice to standing under the Eiffel Tower or on the Great Wall of China. Is there a place or landmark you have always wanted to see? Do it! Studying and living in a different culture will help you see the world from a completely different perspective; it is an amazing experience that will change your life.
See your own country and customs through new eyes.
Growing up and residing in one country tends to give us a limited view of our world. Traveling outside the country will show you how the United States affects and fits into global society, and how you as an individual fit into this world. From the vantage point of someone else's culture, you can truly see your own, and by being exposed to so many diverse traditions you will better understand the significance of them.
Explore your family roots.
Getting in touch with your family's heritage can be another strong motivation to study abroad. Many students report tremendous educational and personal benefits from exploring countries where their families have roots. Studying abroad can provide you with that opportunity to learn about your own ethnicity and explore your identity. Whether your family recently emigrated to the U.S. or has lived here for decades, or whether you are discovering your family's culture for the first time or interested in learning more, study abroad can help you put together the puzzle of your family's past and your present.
Improve your network through new friends and acquaintances.
The relationships formed while studying abroad might become some of the deepest friendships you will ever develop. You will have the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures, and some of these people may even become life-long friends. Study abroad returnees often report meeting others with whom they expected to have no common ground and then discovered that, despite being from different parts of the globe, they have much in common and much to learn from one another. These relationships, insights, and outlooks are a critical part of the study abroad experience. You'll network with fellow students, teachers, host families and professionals, often leading to many great opportunities.