Benefits of Going Abroad
First and foremost, studying abroad is a personal endeavor: a desire to explore the world around you and engage in cultural exchange. While the desire to explore is foregrounded, the effects of this exploration may not be obvious to the student. Studying or interning abroad increases self-confidence, independence, and self-reliance, considering the lack of instantaneous assistance available to students at home, such as friends or family. Students learn to handle difficulties independently, resolving conflicts and trusting their natural abilities to aid them.
Studying abroad is often the first time that a student is legitimately away from home. Rather than being surrounded by familiar faces and a ubiquitous culture, students are thrust into an entirely foreign environment, complete with its own language, systems of government, currency, and local culture. However, as the student begins to immerse themself in the culture of the host country, they acquire the tools necessarily to navigate the culture, and have fun doing it! Acquiring this knowledge inherently leads to personal development, as the student incorporates these tools to utilize in the future, after they return home.
A Shift in Perspective
While students may be exposed to different cultures at home, the scope of their cultural perspective is often limited to those of their friends, family, and country. This isn’t inherently good or bad; it’s simply a result of environment. Thus, upon being thrust into a new culture, students encounter new ideas, theories, and beliefs, many of which will not mirror their culture’s perspective, or even their own personal beliefs. While students may not necessarily agree with these opposing ideologies, they will begin to understand the factors that inform them, gaining an international appreciation of cultural issues.
With an appreciation of foreign culture comes a novel understanding of their own culture. Students will learn about perceptions of their home country, why these perceptions exist, and ways to approach them in a constructive manner. Differences in government, economy, and social issues allow students to reconsider their own understanding of these subjects from an international perspective. Students are able to reassess their beliefs, assimilating the information they’ve gained to construct a multifaceted worldview.
Building a Career
Studying or interning abroad looks good on résumés. With the increase in globalization, companies are seeking potential employees with previous experiences abroad to tap into their international knowledge and foreign language skills. Along with this knowledge, companies also value the skills developed from studying abroad: communication skills, analytical skills, flexibility, working as part of a team, cultural contexts and understanding, the ability to adapt to foreign concepts, and a multifaceted worldview. In addition, the skills that make you marketable to companies also make you more attractive to graduate schools.