If you haven’t done so yourself, I bet there is at least one person in your life that has moved abroad to live, work or study. I also bet that it’s changed them in more ways than you can even keep track. Well, having been an incredibly shy and nervous teenager throughout high school to taking the opportunity to study abroad in 2012, I think it’s safe to say that there is a lot to be learned from studying abroad. Indeed, it may not be to every student’s taste, but I can guarantee that everyone will get something beneficial out of living in another country for more than the usual “vacation period”:
It doesn’t matter which part of the world you choose to study in as the experience in general will cause you to grow up very quickly. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, in fact it is probably one of the best things you can gain from such an expereince. The maturity and independence you experience will enable you to look after yourself a lot better when (and if) you return home.
2. Job Prospects
One of the major benefits of studying abroad is that it looks utterly amazing on your CV and stands you in good stead, regardless of the jobs you apply for. However, this should not be the ONLY or the main reason to study abroad, because if it is, then I can guarantee you will not have an enjoyable expereince. Since returning home I have applied for more jobs than I can even count, the majority of which I have been turned down for. Just putting ‘I studied abroad” on your CV won’t get you to where you want to be, you have to learn to utilise the experience and transfer it to the potential job.
This may not be a major benefit for everyone, but it certainly was for me. It is one of the main changes in my life I have experienced — the confidence to just speak to people and do things I wouldn’t normally do. It’s easier to be confident when you’re studying abroad as you want to experience as much as possible before it’s time to return home that you have no time to worry or hesistate. I find that the conversations I have with people now are much more fulfilling as I have the confidence to speak to people I wouldn’t normally think of speaking to — such as the man that made me a coffee in my local coffee shop; the couple in the library stuggling over a class I took last semester; or the girl who served my dinner in the restaurant I visited last week. It’s a shame that I had to travel across the world to gain this confidence, but it has made my life that small bit more enjoyable.
4. Global friendships
If you ever take the chance to study abroad, I guarantee you WILL make lots of new friends. It’s practically inevitable. I studied in the United States and the residence hall I stayed in was half American students and half international students, which meant I wasn’t just making friends with people from America — but from all over the world. Now, no matter where I travel to, there’s a high chance I will know someone nearby. Two of the best friends I’ve ever had came from my study abroad experience but live in Singapore and Australia.
5. Money Matters
Keeping a budget was one of the many things I learned that studying at home couldn’t teach me. At least not to the same extent. It wasn’t so much whilst I was studying in America, but more the build-up to it as I had to save a lot of money for my flights. Plus, when I was over there, unable to get a proper job, it really made me watch what I was spending the money on. Although, I did have to buy a whole new suitcase so that I was able to bring back all of my new purchases, which were mostly mugs! It’s a great way to learn more about the value of money.
Sometimes you need to leave, in order to come back. I never actually understood what what that meant until I studied abroad. America was a fantastic place for me to go for several different reasons but I found myself comparing everything to back home, as I’m sure you would expect. I learnt to appreciate everything a lot more. It also made me realise how much I love bacon. American bacon isn’t the same as British bacon and it was one of the things I missed the most whilst I was away!
7. Finding Yourself
Every travel blog I have ever read claims that travelling is the only way to find yourself and that there is this unique happiness that can only be tapped into when you are immersing yourself in another culture. Study abroad counts with this too. I wouldn’t say I “found” myself when I was studying abroad, but I feel I am a lot closer to it than I would have been if I hadn’t taken that opportunity. At the very least, I feel like a better, more optimistic version of myself.
8. Work Ethic
Studying abroad improves your work ethic. You’ll be succumbed to a different system that you’ll find yourself working a lot harder than you usually would in the system you’re familiar with. In America I found I was able to choose a lot more classes that I wanted to do rather than being restricted to only a handful that are chosen for me at home. Also, I found myself constantly studying because that’s just what everyone else did. That was the way the system worked. There’s more work to do as an American college student, but I find the work is a lot harder in the UK (though I wouldn’t have known that had I not studied abroad). Since I got myself into such a great study routine, I was able to continue it when I returned to my home University.
I wasn’t sure whether I should put this in the list but it was one of the main reasons why I chose to study abroad. I study American politics in the UK and I wanted to be in America for the 2012 Presidential election as I am fascinated by the American Presidents. Not only was I in America for the election, I also took the chance to volunteer for it and help sign up voters. It ignited my passion for the subject even more and the whole experience confirmed that I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. So, if you get the chance to study abroad, go to the frontline of your subject — go to the place where you can EXPERIENCE what you’re studying, not just learn about it.
10. Travel Bug
Once you start travelling for periods longer than the average holiday or vacation, you won’t be able to stop. It’s a great way to get to see a part of the world you probably won’t get the chance to see otherwise. It’ll also be the perfect opportunity to travel around the country you’re staying in for a much cheaper price than if you were to travel there as a tourist. I managed to see Orlando, Washington D.C and New York City in the short five months I was in America.
So, just do it. Go to your University’s study abroad office and sign up — it’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.