Students who choose to study abroad, even for short periods of time, come away from the experience with great personal growth. Check out the many benefits of foreign study.
College years are filled with new experiences. Students go off to live in dorms or apartments for the first time; they have to be totally responsible for themselves; they have to learn time and budget management; and, of course, they make lots of new social connections, party, and pull all-nighters to get papers done and study for finals. All of these experiences are new when they are freshmen, but become rather mundane after that. How about spicing up your college years by studying abroad? There are some pretty amazing benefits.
1. It Can be Much Cheaper
The average student in the U.S. who earns a bachelor’s degree has also earned about $35,000 in debt for that degree. And it will not get any better. Even state schools, which are supposed to be the bargains, have increased tuitions by large amounts over the past five years. American students are looking at these costs, compared to free education that students receive in most every other country in the world, and wonder why their country cannot do the same.
It’s time for more American students to look elsewhere for their educations. Many Latin-American and European countries offer free or very low cost tuition to foreign students, and, as well, have programs of study taught in English. A few examples are as follows:
2.Opportunities for Travel
In the United States, crossing borders to visit other countries means Canada and Mexico. From Mexico, of course, students can travel further south through Latin-America. When students study abroad, though, that have large continents, with one country right next to another. Travel is cheaper too, so the opportunity to visit many countries during breaks looms large. Students can explore and even choose countries in which they might wish to work and live after graduation.
3. A Year Abroad Through Your Home University Has Benefits
If a student takes a year abroad through his home university, he is still eligible for all of the aid and loans he would have had he stayed home. This is a pretty attractive piece of going abroad for students who do rely on financial aid and loans. The other benefit is this: if the year abroad is sanctioned by a student’s home university, all credits earned transfer back.
4. Broadened Perspective
Everyone talks about how studying abroad provides exposure to other social and cultural groups. And yes, it is an opportunity to immerse oneself in the customs and mores of a society that is different. Immersing oneself, however, should include not just the “what” of another culture, but the “why” as well. Take the time to learn and understand the historical perspective of the people of your host country. You can’t really come to know anyone until you know their story. Keep that in mind, and you will be a richer person.
5. Total Immersion into a Language
If you have a working knowledge of a language before you decide to study abroad in a country with that language, choose to take a course or two in that native language. Barring that, choose to converse only in that language on all non-academic occasions. Becoming fluent can serve you well later on.
6. Valuable Grad School Candidate
A year abroad is a great thing to be able to put in your application to grad school. You will no doubt be writing admissions essays for grad school programs, and you will want to bring in the amazing experiences you had as a foreign student. Admissions committees look favorably on students who have expanded themselves through study abroad. As you write those essays, make sure that you highlight all that you gained from the experience. And if you struggle doing that, contact a writing service, to help you encapsulate the value that you can now bring to a graduate program.
7. Career Opportunities
Many students fall in love with their host countries – the people, the traditions, the other cultural aspects. When it happens, they make a decision to finish their educations there and to look for a career locally. With a background in English and a valuable skill, students find that careers are open to them.
On the other hand, you may return home, only to find that you are more valuable to potential employers because of your experience.
There are lots of companies with global reaches. You may find a phenomenal job opportunity with home base in your home country but the opportunity to return to another place you love too.
8. Exposure to New Leisure Time Activities
At home, you probably have certain outside activities you enjoy during your leisure time – maybe swim or lay tennis. Popular sports and other activities vary from country to country. You may very well pick up an interest in something you would never have tried at home. Music and concerts will be different; popular singers and actors will be different. You’ll see movies that would never have been available at home.
9. New Lifelong Friends
Back at home, you have friends that you know are for a lifetime – those that you grew up with all through school. Here’s the thing about studying abroad: you will make more lifelong friends – fellow students with whom you just “click.” For the rest of your lives, you will stay connected and celebrate each other milestones. You will visit one another, perhaps attend each other’s weddings. These relationships are valuable and fulfilling.
10. Personal Growth
Being on your own in a foreign country will give you all kinds of opportunities for developing independence, confidence that you can navigate through new circumstances and challenges, and a sense of being an “explorer.” Your flexibility and ability to adapt will be “tested” and developed. Once you have successfully moved through this experience, you know you will be able to take on challenges that life has to offer.
Wrapping it Up
Students who have had the opportunity to study abroad, whether for a summer, a semester, a year, or for an entire degree program do not regret having done so. They have had experiences that could not have been duplicated at home; they have developed a world view that their counterparts have not; they have grown personally; and they have a value that they can bring to future employers.